Wildlife Biology & Conservation MSc

Our course is the first course in Scotland to be accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.


The greatest challenge facing conservation biologists today is the preservation of the world’s biodiversity in the face of considerable human demands on space and resources.

By combining the disciplines of wildlife biology and conservation biology, experienced staff will help you develop and apply both the theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to address this challenge.

This is the first and only degree in Scotland to be accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).

Our graduates have gone on to work for environmental consultancies, government agencies and independent wildlife organisations nationally and internationally.

Our MSc in Wildlife Biology & Conservation has a 100% overall student satisfaction score (PTES,2023).

Typical entry point to this course is in September and January. Please enquire for more information.


Feral cat in the wild

Mode of Study:

Full-time (available as Part-time / Distance learning)


12-18 Months

Start date:


Course details

This course has been designed in conjunction with employers and professional bodies. The main focus is on the development of practical employability skills. In recognition of the strong practical and employability focus, this is the first and only degree in Scotland to be accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), meaning you'll graduate with an accredited MSc.

In addition to studying relevant theory, you’ll have the opportunity to develop:
advanced analytical skills for population quantification and management
practical skills used in identifying, quantifying and assessing biodiversity
transferable skills including communication, IT (GIS, R), problem solving, research and team working

Our staff have years of experience working worldwide in wildlife conservation and consultancy and are keen to help you develop your potential. In addition, external speakers from a range of government agencies, charities and consultancies share their experiences and give insights into career options.
We develop our MSc research project topics in collaboration with a wide range of conservation organisations so that your MSc research answers pressing questions and your findings can be directly applied to real-world problems.

Lead academics

The core academic team boast a wide range of skills and research interests. Staff include: 

Application guidance

The full-time and part-time programmes are accredited with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and consequently carry detailed entry expectations which are likely to be met if you have a science-based Bachelor (Honours) Degree at 2:2 or above, preferably including aspects of ecology/zoology/environmental management.

If you intend to apply, please consult the Personal Statement Guidance document (PDF)which includes the CIEEM criteria and be sure to construct your personal statement according to the format specified. Failing to do so will result in your application being deemed ineligible. Applicants with good degrees in subjects other than ecology/zoology/environmental management will be considered if you demonstrate knowledge and skills gained across the CIEEM criteria described in the Personal Statement Guidance Document.

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    How you’ll be taught

    This is a full-time course.

    You'll learn by a variety of teaching methods including lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions, field trips and independent study, supported with information on the virtual learning environment, Moodle. While the programme is predominantly based around face-to-face campus and field activity, we also use technology-enhanced learning. We have a policy of mainstreaming reasonable adjustments which makes the most common adjustments offered to disabled students in teaching/assessment available routinely to everyone.

    You will have a Professional Development Tutor: an academic closely involved with this programme who will help you to steer your individual development as you progress through the course. 

    As your interests and skills develop through the taught course, you will be able to design a final independent research project to suit your individual objectives.

    The academic year is split into three trimesters with the taught modules running in the spring and autumn trimesters only. September-starting students will follow this route:

    Trimester 1 (September - December)

    Scientific Methods (ENV11109)

    Humans and Wildlife (ENV11101)

    Principles of Wildlife Management (ENV11116) and Case Studies in Applied Ecology (ENV11115) both 10 credit modules

    Trimester 2 (Jan - April)

    Management of Aquatic Protected Areas (ENV11112)

    Biodiversity and Conservation (ENV11100)

    Species Identification Skills (ENV11120) and Field Methods in Wildlife Biology and Conservation (ENV11119) both 10 credit modules  

    Trimester 3 (May - August)

    Project (ENV11117) (60 credits)

    January-starting students will follow this route, which takes 16 months because there is no teaching in the summer (May-Aug) of the first year since the final Research Project module must be done after the taught modules. This can be a useful period to gain additional work or voluntary experience during your MSc:


    Management of Aquatic Protected Areas (ENV11112)

    Biodiversity and Conservation (ENV11100)

    Species Identification Skills (ENV11120) and Field Methods in Wildlife Biology and Conservation (ENV11119) both 10 credit modules 


    No teaching, but this period can be used to gain additional work or voluntary experience.


    Scientific Methods (ENV11109)

    Humans and Wildlife (ENV11101)

    Principles of Wildlife Management (ENV11116)


    Case Studies in Applied Ecology (ENV11115)

    both 10 credit modules


    Project (ENV11117)

    (60 credits)

    A link to the descriptor for each module can be found by using the module code to search on the Module Search. Note that info on the learning, teaching and assessment strategy is revealed by clicking on the ‘View Full details’ link within each descriptor.

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    There are no traditional, end-of-module exams.

    Instead, you will work on a variety of relevant professional tasks, both written and oral. Assessments include a zoning document, biodiversity report and development proposal. Taxonomic identification and statistical analysis are key skills which are assessed using practical tests. 

    In addition, you will produce several audio-visual presentations including a research proposal pitch.

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    We are based at the Sighthill Campus where we enjoy excellent well-equipped laboratory and IT facilities. In addition, the good transport network around the city allows us to visit and study a range of terrestrial and aquatic habitats within easy reach of the campus.


Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Biodiversity and Conservation ( ENV11100 )

Why should we conserve biodiversity? Indeed, what is it? This module looks at levels and patterns of biodiversity and how they are measured using estimators & indices. You will use R to carry out biodiversity measurement and consider how to use such data to prioritise areas for protection. You will study aspects of conservation biology such as speciation and extinction and debate the challenges around reintroduction programmes and conservation in the face of climate change.

Further information

Case Studies in Applied Ecology ( ENV11115 )

The module will present 3 case studies within wildlife management and conservation. Case-studies will be introduced with a lecture that gives the background to a conservation/management issue and the techniques that could be utilised to provide new information. Each case-study will have computer practicals during which you will be presented with a dataset that is either from, similar to, or a subset from the appropriate case-study. Guest lecturers will then speak to you about how that approach, and related approaches are used in real world contexts. Case-studies will cover a range of management issues, and will be based on real scenarios that can be drawn from research experience of staff or drawn from the literature. Indicative areas are: assessing the impacts of predator removal on nest success of birds, assessment of space use by marine species in designing marine protected areas, and using camera-trap surveying to identify protected mammal den sites.

Further information

Field Methods in Wildlife Biology and Conservation (on-campus) ( ENV11119 )

Field Methods in Wildlife Biology and Conservation (onsite) builds upon the foundational knowledge and skills acquired in Species Identification Skills (onsite). This module focuses on advanced techniques used in wildlife biology and conservation by studying diverse population monitoring and ecological sampling tools. You will further develop practical skills in the field and lab settings, gaining hands-on experience with advanced research methods commonly employed in wildlife biology and conservation.

Further information

Field and Laboratory Skills ( ENV11108 )

A series of practical sessions in the field and lab will be followed by a residential field course during which students will conduct (under supervision) sampling/monitoring in terrestrial and aquatic habitats with identification and enumeration of various taxa. Habitat and species specific methods related to terrestrial invertebrates, aquatic invertebrates, small mammals, birds and plants will be covered. Students will be tested on the key employability skills of species identification and report writing.

Further information

Humans and Wildlife ( ENV11101 )

Topics include ecotourism, human-environment interactions, and environmental education. Aspects of urban ecology, community engagement, and social research in conservation relate directly to the challenges of land management to benefit both human and the environment, which forms one of the assessments. Agricultural ecology, and examples of human-wildlife conflict and protected area management around the world are also studied in relation to wildlife law and economics.

Further information

Management of Aquatic Protected Areas ( ENV11112 )

The module will cover the following topics: marine and freshwater protected area planning, legal and legislative frameworks for the designation of aquatic protected areas, assessing and managing water quantity and quality issues, aquatic-terrestrial linkages, landscape scale approaches and management at the catchment level, the DPSIR (Drivers-Pressures-State-Impacts-Responses) framework for analysis of environmental state and management, catchment management plans, coastal zone management, marine spatial planning, the ecosystem approach to aquatic resource management, including fisheries and sustainable use of aquatic protected areas. You will also gain skills in the use and application of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in the context of managing aquatic protected areas.

Further information

Principles of Wildlife Management ( ENV11116 )

Disciplines covered initially include wildlife population dynamics and wildlife meta-populations. Practical techniques covered in detail then include mammal and bird capture techniques, and sampling design in wildlife population monitoring. We then discuss the foundation of more complex analytical techniques such as information theoretic modelling and maximum likelihood estimation in wildlife studies, and use of generalised linear modelling in wildlife studies.

Further information

Research Project ( ENV11117 )

In this module you will design and conduct an independent research project. This may be a field or lab based study, a data analysis project or a piece of qualitative research (e.g. questionnaires). This involves design, development and implementation of a programme of research in a particular field of study relevant to your interests. You will critically analyse data/information generated, and communicate the outcomes in a research paper, which will develop your skills in scientific writing. You are encouraged to develop a project which meets your constraints in terms of location, funding and interests. Projects can be undertaken independently (provided health and safety concerns are met) or in collaboration with organisations locally or around the world.As a full-time (FT) student, you will have one trimester to complete the module. If you are a part-time or distance learning student (PT/DL), you will have 2 trimesters to complete. In either case, you will first develop a project proposal and complete any necessary risk assessments and ethics approvals prior to getting under way with the actual project work. If your project idea cannot be completed in the trimester when you are due to take this module e.g. your focal species is not active at that time of year, you should consult staff as to possible options.

Further information

Scientific Methods ( ENV11109 )

This module has three strands: philosophy and practice of science; statistical analysis and the use of R; an introduction to taxonomy and species ID. Content will include the nature of the literature and scientific method including survey and experimental strategies and the need for replication and controls. Working with people and qualitative research methods involve a different set of ethical and regulatory issues which will also be discussed. Statistical and related methods for analysing and presenting data will be covered in the first half of the module together with taxonomic theory and field and lab sessions looking at a range of taxa.

Further information

Species Identification Skills (on-campus) ( ENV11120 )

This module is designed to provide you with foundational knowledge and practical experience in species identification, focusing on plants, terrestrial invertebrates, aquatic invertebrates, and birds. The module emphasises the development of practical skills required for accurate species identification, both in the field and in the laboratory. You will learn to recognise key species, understand their ecological significance, and gain proficiency in field and lab species identification.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.



Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

What are the entry requirements for Wildlife Biology and Conservation?

A Bachelor (Honours) Degree at 2:2 or above, including aspects of ecology/biology.

If you intend to apply, please consult the Personal Statement Guidance document (PDF) which includes the CIEEM criteria and be sure to construct your personal statement according to the format specified. Failing to do so will result in your application being deemed ineligible.

Can I make an appointment with an advisor to discuss further about the admission process?

If you want to get more information on the admission process, please get in touch with the postgraduate admissions team by submitting an enquiry form above.

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery
  • All Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

See who can apply for more information on Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2023/24 2024/25
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £6,930 £7,280
Overseas and EU £ £20,395
Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next. For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships
The University offers a 20% discount on Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes. The discount can only be applied to year one of a full-time Postgraduate degree, any additional years are exempt from the discount. For part time Postgraduate degrees the discount will apply to years one, two and three only and any additional years will be exempt from the discount.
Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.

Please note:

The discount for Edinburgh Napier alumni can only be applied to year one of a full-time Postgraduate degree, any additional years are exempt from the discount.

For part time Postgraduate degrees the discount will apply to years one, two and three only and any additional years will be exempt from the discount.

Please read our full T&C here


What can you do with a wildlife and conservation biology degree?

By studying wildlife and conservation biology at Edinburgh Napier University, you will develop the practical. technical and intellectual knowledge to be able to apply your skills within the field. If you are interested in in conservation, wildlife and the environment, then this might be the right course for you. You will be able to go onto work for a range of different organisations within different sectors, including Government agencies (e.g. Nature Scot, Natural England, British Columbia Fish and Wildlife, Forestry and Land Scotland, US National Parks Service, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Government, Defra, other national governments) · Non-governmental agencies and charities (e.g. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Wildlife Trusts, Marine Conservation Society), Private consultancies (e.g. Jacobs, Atkins, Atmos, Echoes Ecology, RPS, LUC) and Worldwide research institutions including universities and research institutes (e.g. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology), showing that there are a wide range of opportunities available upon graduation.

You may be likely to work as an ecologist, ecological consultant, wildlife ranger, education officer, conservation project officer, wildlife technician, docotoral researcher, scientific adviser or a species licensing officer, as examples.

Our Alumni also visit regularly to share their work experience and advice with current students and have emphasised the importance of the skills gained from this course in their subsequent success.

In addition, by studying on a CIEEM accredited degree you will receive a free student membership of CIEEM which gives you additional access to resources, training, mentoring and networking that will help you to pursue a career in ecology or environmental management. 

Below are just some of the roles you could go into with an MSc in Wildlife and Conservation biology.

What does a conservation project officer do?

As a conservation project officer, you will be responsible for implementing and overseeing conservation projects. You will coordinate activities which are aimed at preserving wildlife and natural habitats, as well as ecosystems. This may include carrying out habitat restoration, biodiversity conservation and sustainable resource management.

You will have strong problem solving and communication skills to work effectively within the field, and will be able to manage conservation plans, field surveys, and collaborate with government, local authorities and stakeholders.

Daily tasks and responsibilities within this role may include:

  • Project planning
  • Conducting fieldwork
  • Report writing
  • Data analysis
  • Community engagement
  • Policy advocacy
  • Environmental education through community engagement

What does an ecological consultant do?

As an ecological consultant, you will be responsible for advising on human activities and development, and how they interact and impact the environment. You will aim to maintain sustainable development and environmental conservation through collaborative problem solving. In this role, you will be expected to be an excellent communicator and team player. You will likely work for the government, local authorities, environmental organisations or within the private sector.

Daily tasks and responsibilities within this role may include:

  • Carrying out Environmental Impact Assessments
  • Site Assessments
  • Protected species surveying
  • Habitat Restoration
  • Report Writing
  • Public and Community Engagement

What does a biodiversity officer do?

As a biodiversity officer, you will be responsible for raising awareness of nature conservation and ensuring that regulations and legal requirements relating to biodiversity are adhered to within projects relating to infrastructure developments, for example. You will develop strategies and conduct field surveys in order to promote sustainable practice, meaning strong teamworking and communication skills are required. This is a dynamic role which requires fieldwork, office tasks and community engagement. You will likely work with organisations such as the government, environmental agencies or the private sector.

Daily tasks and responsibilities within this role may include:

  • Biodiversity surveying
  • Conservation planning
  • Education and outreach
  • Policy development
  • Site management
  • Monitoring and evaluation

Many of the types of roles that our graduates go into are listed on the Green Jobs for Nature website and this might give you and idea of the types of careers that you could pursue with your MSc Wildlife Biology & Conservation. 



Students amongst green vegetation learning at Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden