Full time 12 Month(s), Part time 24 Month(s)
Our Conservation and Biodiversity Masters offers great flexibility, with a wide choice of topics from across disciplines, enabling you to construct a programme that suits your individual interests and career ambitions in this increasingly important field.
You will have the opportunity to gain a solid foundation in the key theoretical issues, such as wildlife population dynamics and conservation biology, and learn how these are applied to real-world problems, such as managing habitats or dealing with wildlife-human conflicts. Additionally, you will gain and develop the key skills that are valued by employers, such as problem solving, report writing, data analysis and presentation skills.
You will complete six taught modules delivered by world-leading researchers from our three internationally-renowned partner organisations: Lancaster Environment Centre, Rothamsted Research and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. This gives you the opportunity to interact with a wide range of expert specialists, including lake ecologists, political ecologists, food security biologists, earth observation geographers, social scientists and others, so that you can put your learning into a wider context.
Several modules include field trips to the beautiful and topographically varied countryside around Lancaster, and beyond. If you want to travel further afield, we have research projects and partners across the globe that provide exiting opportunities when it comes to selecting your dissertation project.
This project forms a substantial part of your Masters degree. It will enhance your practical and analytical skills and give you the opportunity to apply your learning to a real-world challenge. This may involve a doing a project with a government agency or conservation organisation through our award winning Centre for Global Eco-innovation, which uses our excellent links with the environmental and conservation sectors. Examples of previous dissertation projects are:
Graduates have gone on to successful careers in the environmental and conservation sectors, as well as further study for a PhD.
You will study a range of modules as part of your course, some examples of which are listed below.
This module covers the full develoment, execution and delivery of the Masters dissertation. In addition to your dissertation project, you will also be offered a series of 1 hour support seminars on specific research skills to cover areas such as scientific communication, data presentation, statistics, referencing and other IT skills. Assessment for this module includes a poster presentation and a 10,000 word dissertation.
Students will gain a critical understanding of key concepts, principles, tools and techniques for the management of natural resources and the environment. Particular attention is given to the challenges of dealing with complexity, change, uncertainty and conflict in the environment, and to the different management approaches which can be deployed in ‘turbulent’ conditions.
Contemporary environmental problems will be examined and interpreted from both an academic and policy perspective. In order to do this effectively, students will learn to evaluate and critique arguments and evidence related to environmental problems, and will demonstrate advanced understanding of alternative management concepts through constructive debate.
This module provides an introduction to basic principles and approaches to computer-aided modelling of environmental processes with applications to real environmental problems such as catchment modelling, pollutant dispersal in rivers and estuaries and population dynamics. Emphasis is placed on the use of computer-based methods and practical examples and you will be introduced to general aspects of environmental systems modelling.
The focus is to understand the component parts and the interdisciplinary basis of the global food system. To this end, students will examine challenges facing global agricultural production as a result of climate change. They will also gain an understanding of the shortage of key resources for food production and the subsequent issues that affect people’s access to food.
In addition to this, the module will demonstrate how basic plant physiology can inform both plant breeding and agronomy to increase the sustainability of agriculture. The factors impacting food safety and food quality (especially nutritive value) will also be explored.
Ultimately, students will develop a familiarity with several current/impending crises in global food security.
Please note, if taking the Food Security pathway this is a core module.
Students will be given an introduction to the origin, purpose and uses of the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) as a systematic and comprehensive survey of the plant communities of natural, semi-natural and major artificial habitats in Britain.
The module will inform students of the NVC survey’s methodology so that they can learn the basic techniques it uses. Recognising boundaries and homogeneous strands; locating sample quadrats; and recording essential features of the composition and structure of the vegetation and its relationship to the habitat, are all essential skills to acquire. They will also come to understand the potential and limitations of the NVC as a monitoring, management and design tool.
Practical field exercises will be included, and will involve data collection from a range of vegetation types with subsequent analysis, evaluation and interpretation which will provide the students with an appreciation of the complex relationships between vegetation and climate, soils and human impacts.
During this module, students will gain both theoretical and practical experience of analytical chemistry techniques used to obtain environmental data, from sampling and storage to analysis and data interpretation. They will learn about entire sampling analytical systems and the fundamentals of common analytical techniques such as mass spectrometry and chromatography.
Students will come to understand the typical applications of the selected instrumental methods, as well as the principles of quality assurance and method validation, ensuring the high quality of analytical results for statistical interpretation etc.
This module focuses on key challenges facing the conservation of biodiversity today. We examine trade-offs between conservation goals and human desires, and wellbeing. The module highlights emerging understanding of the complex relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human life.
Students will be engaged with specific examples of how conservation science is changing to address social-economic-ecological conflicts. They are encouraged to critically analyse literature on topical issues confronting biodiversity conservation. By doing so, they will gain an understanding of the factors that constrain conservation aims, and of the need for interdisciplinary approaches to conserve biodiversity in the real world.
Those who take this module will develop an understanding of how conservation has changed, and be able to define criteria to identify species and ecosystems of high conservation importance. They will also learn how conflicts between social, economic and ecological objectives can be understood and addressed in partnerships.
The aim of this module is to introduce students to key issues surrounding the loss of agricultural and horticultural produce to a range of pests and diseases, and the approaches that can be used to minimise these losses. This understanding will be underpinned by providing detailed knowledge of natural plant defence mechanisms and of the biology and ecology of plant-pathogen and plant-insect interactions.
Students will learn how these features can be exploited to assist in crop protection. They will be taught that problems faced by researchers and practitioners aiming to improve food production in the 21st century are complex, and cannot be solved by single technological advancements. Instead, they should understand that a holistic, integrated approach is required. As such, students will come to understand the complex interactions between multiple approaches to crop improvement, and will readily discuss the need for interdisciplinary research in the field of sustainable agriculture.
Students will learn about the planning that goes into, and the ecological principles underlying, habitat management.
There will be a series of excursions to sites of conservation interest, led by external contributors and experts within the Department. Workshops will train students in habitat management techniques and planning, and students will write a conservation management plan for a particular site.
Students will be able to describe how the principles underlying the management of habitats for conservation can be applied in a range of habitat types, and will be able to construct a standard conservation management plan.
They will also develop skills in identifying, abstracting and synthesising information, and report writing.
This module will provide you with a broad view of issues related to contaminated land, in particular: typical contamination problems; methodologies for assessing the extent and seriousness of contamination; and the applicability and effectiveness of remediation techniques as a function of contaminant and site conditions.
The legislation pertaining to and the processes used to assess the risk associated with contaminated land will be appraised, as will risk-based approaches to contaminated land assessment in general. The fate and behaviour of contaminants in the environment will also be examined. Students will gain knowledge in these matters via the risk assessment and remediation case studies.
An awareness of the scale of contaminated land in the UK will be acquired, and students will gain the ability to scientifically discuss the processes which control the behaviour of chemicals in soil.
Please note, this is a core module for the Pollution pathway.
This module will give students a grounding in the scientific process behind chemical risk analysis. The effect of chemicals in the environment will be observed and explained. Concepts such as dose-response relationships and observed-effect levels, as well as modes of entry and routes of exposure to humans, biota and the ecosystem as a whole, will be examined.
A large part of the module will be dedicated to understanding quantitative exposure assessment, which will include the introduction of fate modelling and the prediction of chemical concentrations in different environmental compartments. Students will also be familiarised with current assessment procedures for chemical registration and will partake in group practicals/workshops to understand the steps in chemical risk analysis. They will perform their own chemical risk assessment procedures, learn to use simulation models to predict outcomes, and will understand the role of risk assessment in decision making.
The aim of this module is to introduce the concept of the Earth system and how the different components (atmosphere, ocean, ice and ecosystems) all interact with each other to shape the Earth's climate and control how the climate might change. The module will cover issues related to recent climate change, including natural and human drivers of the change. It will introduce the computer models and global observation networks that scientists use to understand the Earth system. It will also discuss the role of atmospheric chemistry and climate in the Earth system, including issues related to air quality, greenhouse gases and aerosols.
Overall, this module aims to provide an introduction to the physical processes which influence global climate change, leading to a better understanding of Earth system science.
This module will introduce you to the fundamental principles of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing and shows how these complimentary technologies may be used to capture/derive, manipulate, analyse and display different forms of spatially-referenced environmental data.
Students will consider four inter-related, important factors (soil water, nutrients, physics and biology) that determines a soil’s ability to produce crops, and the agricultural/economic consequences of failing to manage this resource properly. Most agricultural production is dependent on the soil not only to anchor plants, but to supply their hydraulic and nutritional needs. This module will teach students a range of management approaches that contribute to the long-term ability of the soil to sustain agricultural production. They will learn to compare and contrast soil carbon stocks in agricultural/non-agricultural land and to evaluate methods used to raise soil carbon status.
From this, students will learn to recognise effective soil and plant-based crop nutrient management. They will also be able to evaluate the impacts of plant-microbe interactions on crop disease and nutrient status, and appraise the impact of soil erosion on water body pollution.
This module explains what wildlife population ecology entails and how it can be studied. It will explore the factors influencing population growth and involves quantifying the reproduction, survival, birth and death rate of various animals and plants.
One of the ways this exploration will be done is through completing a presentation which synthesises a quantitative aspect of wildlife population ecology. Through this, students will demonstrate an ability to use disparate literature sources and to present a coherent story of applied or theoretical interest.
They will come to appreciate how individual life history decisions determine population level processes, and will learn to resolve applied ecological problems using basic biological information.
They will also demonstrate knowledge of other basic population concepts, such as density-dependence, trade-offs, competition, predation, parasitism, etc. Another aspect will involve learning the fundamentals of population models, such as the Logistic and Lotka-Voltera models, and appreciating the use of population models in applied ecology.
Students will gain knowledge of identification, sampling and monitoring methods for some key taxa and an understanding of how these methods may be used in a wider context, e.g. local, national and international contexts of different types of survey.
The module will have five sections, each delivered with one or two lectures and including a field component on campus or away. It will also include the analysis of quantitative data.
Those who take this module will be taught to identify some taxonomic groups to appropriate levels (species, genus, etc.) and will devise appropriate sampling regimes to derive population estimates or indices for population monitoring. They will also use other monitoring techniques that may be appropriate for recording behaviour and quantifying biodiversity.
Students will be given an introduction to the foundations of lake ecology, an area with an acknowledged national lack of expertise. The module presents a holistic approach to the drivers and internal interactions that control water quality in lakes.
Those who take this module will be taught basic ecological principles, which will be elucidated using lake ecology. They will also be introduced to the various applications of state-of-the-art techniques and provided with essential background information for dealing with regulation such as the Water Framework Directive.
This module also includes a field trip and practicals that will give students experience of working with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in a management/policy context. Modelling to predict impact of management measures is also an important aspect of the module, and an appreciation of its principles and uses when it comes to lakes and catchment will be encouraged.
Students will come to understand the state-of-the-art tools and approaches needed to study and manage lakes as used in industry, government and science.
Please note, this is a core module for the Water pathway.
Students will be introduced to the interactions between microorganisms and naturally occurring organic matter, and how this relates to the degradation and persistence of environmental pollutants. The mechanisms of organic matter decomposition and pollutant degradation will be discussed in detail, with emphasis being placed on environmental systems, particularly that of soil.
The application of these processes in biological treatment of chemically contaminated ecosystems will also be considered, with the strengths and weaknesses of the processes being highlighted using case studies.
The module will encourage discussion of pollutant degradation in the environment, focusing on the interactions between pollutants and the abiotic and biotic environment and how this impacts on biodegradation.
After completion of the module, the students will be aware of the importance of microorganisms within different ecosystems, considering biotic interactions, nutrient cycling and organic matter turnover. Furthermore, they will be cognisant of the role of microorganisms in waste treatment systems, how microorganisms adapt to and metabolise man-made chemicals, and their role in the assessment and remediation of contaminated land.
This module consists of a full course in statistics and data analysis from a non-mathematical viewpoint. It covers both parametric and non-parametric methods, up to and including generalised linear models. Other topics include data types, graphs, statistics, estimation and testing, categorical and continuous responses, and sampling strategies and designs of experiments.
After taking this module, students will be able to design a sensible experiment or sampling scheme and perform exploratory analysis. They will be able to decide on sensible statistical analysis, including a choice between parametric and non-parametric testing, if relevant, and perform that analysis in SPSS followed by interpretation of the results. They should also be able to realise when the analysis that they need to perform is beyond the materials covered in the module and that they should therefore consult a statistician.
Having a basic level of numerical skill is required in order to perform well in many LEC PGT modules. This modules provides baseline numerical, statistical and mathematical skills to underpin academic modules and as an employability skill in its own right.
Current approaches to cutting-edge research in the environmental sciences are highly dependent on digital data, and a wide variety of different data types can now be accessed relatively easily. You only need to consider the data required to understand climate change to appreciate the diversity of information that is currently available, and which is needed to address the biggest global issues.
In this module you will learn the fundamentals of retrieving, annotating, analysing and interpreting digital data from a variety of sources, applying integrated, scientific methodologies. You will develop data manipulation skills and an awareness of the tools available to maximise the value of heterogeneous digital data. We demonstrate everyday problems in data collection, both avoidable and unavoidable, and explore techniques that minimise their impact. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of current software for data mining and visualisation, and you will get hands-on experience of data integration using spreadsheet, database and GIS technologies.
This module covers the possible positive and negative effects that various forms of renewable energy have on the environment. You will develop a critical understanding of the key concepts of renewable energy, and the tools and techniques for assessing the environmental impact of renewable energy schemes. In particular, you will be able to assess the challenges facing the development and deployment of large renewable energy schemes and the uncertainties related to their environmental impact.
Please note, this is a core module for the Energy pathway.
This will be an analytical and applied seminar exploring the political ecology of international development. First, students will discuss a range of explanatory frameworks guiding the field, then they will critically analyse several areas of resource management and environmental governance. The module asks how different institutions, and the politics surrounding them, impose constraints upon, and present opportunities for, the promotion of sustainable and equitable development.
Students will give insightful critique and comment on the political ecology approach, and will become familiar with the rich literature of political ecology. They will also develop a greater understanding of the driving forces of human and environmental resource pressures and responses at different scales.
The module encourages a more in depth knowledge of the diversity of experience among developing countries, including in regards to tackling environmental problems and development inequalities in rural and urban environments. Students will gain this through analysing comparative case studies. A political ecology approach will be used to understand the deeper causes and implications of localised environmental problems and development injustices.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Designed for: For graduates of ecology, biology, biological sciences, environmental sciences,geography or similar degrees who are interested in extending their knowledge and gaining experience. This course is good for people preparing for a career in consultancy, working with wildlife monitoring organisations, nature conservation charities or going on to do a PhD.
Entry requirements: 2:1 (Hons) degree (UK) or equivalent in Environmental Science, Biological Sciences, Ecology, Biology, Geography or a similar degree
If you have studied outside of the UK, you can check your qualification here: International Qualifications
We may consider non-standard applicants, please contact us for further information.
IELTS: Overall score of at least 6.5, with no individual element below 6.0
We consider tests from other providers, which can be found here: English language requirements
If your score is below our requirements we may consider you for one of our pre-sessional English language programmes:
10 week - Overall score of at least 5.5, with no individual element below 5.0
For details of eligibility see: Pre-sessional programmes
4 week - Overall score of at least 6.0, with no individual element below 5.5 Further information is available at English for Academic Purposes
Assessment: Coursework, presentations, examinations and dissertation
Funding: All applicants should consult our information on Fees and Funding.
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