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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

MRes Wildlife Conservation

The MRes Wildlife Conservation research masters degree is an exciting addition to our portfolio of programmes, designed for graduates of biology, zoology, ecology and other relevant biological or ecological disciplines. It offers you the chance to build on the background of your undergraduate degree, while allowing you to develop within the field of wildlife conservation.

Introducing your degree

This is the course page for MRes Wildlife Conservation at the University of Southampton. Find out everything about Wildlife Conservation and what studying here involves.

In this course page we explain a range of key information about the course. This includes typical entry requirements, modules you can take and how assessment works. We also suggest career opportunities open to you as a University of Southampton graduate of MRes Wildlife Conservation.

If you still have questions, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer any enquiries. See our contact us page for our telephone, email and address information.

Programme Overview

This Wildlife Conservation Masters course is jointly delivered as a collaborative programme with Marwell Wildlife. It offers an unusually high degree of interaction between the University and an action-oriented Conservation organisation. The aim of this MRes is to produce individuals with the skills, experience and academic credentials required for a career in Conservation biology.

In order to provide an immersive experience for students and to ensure we have the scope to cover all that the MRes encompasses, the course is based on a full calendar year, running from the start of Semester one (October-Jan), through semester two (Feb-June), and beyond, right up until late September. The MRes is a full-time course only, with no provision for a part-time option at this time.

MRes Wildlife Conservation is one of 10 Southampton masters degrees to be selected for the Commonwealth Shared Scholarships programme, which means students from developing Commonwealth countries can apply for financial support. To find out more, visit our Commonwealth Scholarships page.

View the programme specification for this course for 2017/18 entrants

View the programme specification for this course for 2019/20 entrants

Research briefs: 

Research projects span the period from February to August, with research presentations and viva voce examinations usually falling in September. Project content is based on conservation challenges within Marwell’s existing portfolio of work in the UK and Africa, and while inspired by Marwell’s need to answer particular questions or gather specific information, students are required to play a critical role in project scoping and design in readiness for undertaking their research. In exceptional cases, we may consider research projects based on material and/or locations outside of Marwell's usual operations.

Fee information:

Course fees are divided into two parts, a base component covering delivery of the programme, including a full semester of teaching and access to facilities within the Centre for Biological Sciences, University of Southampton and at Marwell Wildlife, as well as a 10 day field course to Kenya, including flights and accommodation (students are required to cover the cost of vaccinations and anti-malarials as required). There is also a research component to the course fee which covers all costs associated with the student’s research project (including flights and accommodation for projects abroad), and falls within one of three bands, depending upon how much it will cost to undertake the research project. 

UK and EU

The base component for this 1 year full-time programme is £10,000. The research component cost bands are £1700, £2600 or £4100.

Overseas (non-EU)

The base component for this 1 year full-time programme is £20,000. The research component cost bands are £1700, £2600 or £4100.

  UK and EU fees £ International (non-EU) fees £
Band A research project 11700 21700
Band B research project 12600 22600
Band C research project 14100 24100

To Apply

To register interest or to be sent more information please contact:

Postgraduate Admissions Office

+44(0)23 8059 4348

Application deadline for this degree programme is 30 April 2018 (applications received after this date will be considered on an individual basis, please contact us)


When applying you should:

  • check you meet the general entry requirements
  • if applicable, ensure that you will be able meet any special requirements for international students
  • identify how you will fund your postgraduate study
  • obtain supporting documentation to support your application
  • identify the project you are interest in on your application

You will then be ready to apply, using the University's online application form here.

Search for ‘Wildlife Conservation' or, select Programme Type ‘Research', ‘Full-time' and ‘Faculty of Natural & Environmental Sciences', then choose 'MRes Wildlife Conservation'.

Key facts

Develop an extensive and in-depth knowledge of all aspects of wildlife conservation

Undertake an extensive research project abroad or in the UK

Join an exciting and active team of conservation biologists at Marwell Wildlife

Learn how to effectively communicate your research to colleagues and the public

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

MRes Wildlife Conservation is designed for graduates and postgraduates of biology, zoology and ecological disciplines (2:1 or first class degree), and those currently already working at conservation organisations. It is a one calendar year (October-September) full-time course. There is currently no provision for this MRes as a part time course.

Applicants are invited to outline their research interests and identify their preferred topic or area of study, when making their application. All projects fall into one of three research component cost bands (see Fee Information above), with overseas research and projects involving a large degree of lab work tending to fall into the upper band(s).

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by representatives from the Centre for Biological Sciences and Marwell Wildlife, and in particular, an applicant’s research background and interests will be discussed, along with their experience of fieldwork. Our priority is to match candidates to the programme experience, and to research opportunities, taking account of individuals’ attributes, skills, experiences and career aspirations. In addition, the panel will also raise candidates’ awareness of any logistical challenges they may face while in post-graduate education (e.g. housing, finances, transport to Marwell).

Selection process

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.

Programme Structure

Typical course content

MRes Wildlife Conservation is jointly delivered as a collaborative programme between University of Southampton and Marwell Wildlife, with students spending large proportions of their year on the programme at each institution. Marwell Wildlife is located 9 miles from the main Highfield campus of the University of Southampton, near Winchester and due to a lack of public transport between sites, students need to travel independently between the University and Marwell.

As a conservation charity with a zoological park as part of its conservation profile Marwell Wildlife undertakes a broad portfolio of conservation research which includes managing individuals and populations of threatened species and the restoration of endangered wildlife and ecosystems. During semester 1 you will attend taught modules at the zoological park and, in November, a field course at Marwell Wildlife’s conservation science site in Kenya. You will also have the unique experience of undertaking an extensive 8-month in-depth research project based on real needs arising from Marwell’s ongoing conservation work, under the joint supervision of a Marwell Wildlife conservation Biologist and a University of Southampton academic. Data collection for the in-depth research project may be based at any one of Marwell Wildlife’s sites, in the UK or Africa (prospective candidates are invited to identify their preferred research project at time of application). Through the combination of time spent at Marwell Wildlife’s UK base for module delivery and working alongside conservation biologists throughout your research, you will spend a significant proportion of this one year course playing an important role within Marwell Wildlife’s dynamic conservation team.

On campus at University of Southampton you will be based in the iconic Life Sciences building where a module on research and statistical skills will be taught by Biological Sciences lecturers. Students on other postgraduate programmes within the Centre for Biological Sciences will also join you on this statistics module providing an important opportunity to mix with your fellow postgraduate University of Southampton students, enhancing your student experience. You will also have weekly programme-specific tutorials in small groups throughout semester 1, which will cover research skills including: science communication – posters, seminars, scientific papers; critical evaluation; employability skills; online presence, including blogs and social media; grant applications.

Students on MRes Wildlife Conservation programme take four compulsory taught modules: Three are course-specific modules taught at Marwell Wildlife, delivered by their team of Conservation Biologists. A statistical skills module istaught at the Centre for Biological Sciences. Students start their 8 month research project in semester 2, under the supervision of a Marwell Wildlife Conservation Biologist and a University of Southampton academic, and engage in a series of project design tutorials with supervisory teams in semester 1 and 2.

Semester 1

BIOL6048 Wildlife Conservation: Disciplines and Principles - This module will expand and enhance knowledge of the underlying conceptual and theoretical framework required by conservation biologists .You will recognize and demonstrate an understanding of conservation issues along a spectrum ranging from individual animals, through to populations, reintroductions, habitat restoration and anthropogenic sources of conflict.

By the end of this module you will have an understanding of the value and limitations of applying biological principles and disciplines to real-world conservation

BIOL6049 Fieldwork- Before, During and After - Preparatory sessions delivered at Marwell Wildlife will cover aspects such as risk assessment for fieldwork, politics and diplomacy and basic field skills. There is then a 10 day field course to Marwell Wildlife's conservation and research site in Kenya. On returning from the field site, students will present outcomes of group-based short survey project.

BIOL6050 Techniques in monitoring and surveying - This module will outline the value of monitoring wildlife across several levels (individuals, population and communities). You will be introduced to a host of techniques specific to monitoring and surveying wildlife (for example radio tracking, camera trapping, gathering information from local communities, use of standard population management software). You are encouraged to spend independent study time familiarising yourself with the equipmentin order to develop your competence and confidence in their use. Emphasis is placed upon how these approaches are crucial for informing conservation decision-making, relating to wildlife.

BIOL6052 Advanced Quantitative methods - Evidence-based conservation requires quantitative analyses of field data typically collected under imperfectly controlled conditions and across heterogeneous habitats. This module will develop generic skills in (1) the design of data collection protocols, particularly for field experiments and observational studies, and (2) the testing of hypotheses with statistical models.

Semester 2

BIOL6051 MRes Wildlife Conservation research project -In addition to enabling you to complete a substantial piece of independent research (8 months in duration), this module will provide you with training in research methodology and science communication. You will have a supervisory team composed of a Marwell Wildlife Conservation Biologist and a University of Southampton academic. Over the course of four weeks of formative tutorials, you will develop a concept note paper. This will be presented individually to your supervisors and your internal examiners (one from Marwell and one from University of Southampton), followed by a discussion about your proposed project. Following this, data collection for your research will be undertaken at one of Marwell Wildlife's conservation science sites. You will work closely with your supervisory team to ensure that the project outcomes address real identified needs arising from Marwell Wildlife's ongoing conservation work. The project will culminate in a final report, in the style of a peer-reviewed paper, as well as a viva and research presentation to your University and Marwell peers and supervisory teams. There may be the opportunity to refine your work into a draft paper, with your supervisory team, for submission to a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Research project topics

Species integrity

Exploring the genetic, behavioural and physiological basis of species allocations, and developing a better understanding of the critical requirements. There is a particular focus on the reintroductions of captive-bred animals and other conservation translocations. Activities include the assessment of the adaptive impacts of captivity in relation to the dynamically changing environments into which animals are released. Ongoing projects currently include: addax genetics in Tunisia; monitoring released scimitar horned oryx, spur thighed tortoises and North African ostrich in Tunisia; developing research on Partula species using Marwell’s new tropical house as a study arena; ongoing research on sand lizard.

Ecosystem function

Drawing on our experiences in UK, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and China, we will explore critical impacts of management on ecosystem function. Using management variability across our numerous sites and our long-term databases, studies to explore dynamic trends, threats and management options to mitigate negative change and maximise benefits will be undertaken. Key research questions about ecosystem management and change, studies on grassland and vegetation management, species movement and landscape connectivity are likely to be priorities.

People and nature

Conservation goals and outcomes can be a common good whilst mindful of the impacts of wildlife conflict, often faced most pointedly by poorer communities, the overarching benefits of functioning ecosystems as our “life support machine” are undeniable. Studies to understand the differing values people attribute to nature and that contribute to development of mechanisms to engage people with conservation in ways that provide benefits to them and wildlife are of critical importance. Marwell’s work in this area includes: community engagement in Northern Kenya in concert with our Grevy’s zebra monitoring and research; working with closely area staff and officials, for example in Tunisia and China.

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Learning & Teaching

Career Opportunities

This MRes allows those with career aspirations within conservation to enhance their prospects in a number of ways. You will develop your academic credentials and your practical skills, jointly, without having to choose to invest in one route or the other. You will be exposed to, and have the opportunity to work alongside, practicing conservation biologists, providing you with valuable experience and insight into the realities of working in conservation. By undertaking an in-depth 8 month research project you will develop some specialist knowledge within your area of interest, and be exposed to a wider network of conservation biologists and other industry professionals working for organizations that collaborate with Marwell Wildlife (for example, European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, Kenya Wildlife Service, Natural England). This wide range of experience, and any contacts within the conservation network you have made, will assist you when applying for positions within conservation NGOs and wildlife focused government agencies.

Additionally, graduates will find the MRes programme an excellent way to prepare for a PhD in conservation science as you will gain experience of undertaking postgraduate research, as well as having the opportunity to begin developing your own specialist area of study, off the back of your 8 month in-depth research project . Students should note that the research undertaken for the MRes Project would be independent of research for a PhD.

Study locations

The Life Sciences Building

Biological Sciences Building, Highfield Campus

The Life Sciences building is a £50 million state-of-the-art laborator...Find out more

Marwell Wildlife

Marwell Wildlife

Marwell Wildlife is a charity dedicated to the conservation of biodive...Find out more

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