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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

MRes Wildlife Conservation

Develop the skills and knowledge required of a 21st century conservation biologist on our unique MRes Wildlife Conservation, a collaborative provision programme with conservation Non Government Organisation (NGO), Marwell Wildlife. You will consider conservation along a spectrum, from individuals to species, to populations and communities.

Why study an MRes?  A Master of Research (MRes), has some taught elements, but the main focus is on research skills (usually 33% taught, 66% research), while Master of Science (MSc) degrees are largely taught courses (typically 66% taught and 33% research).

Information on projects available for September 2020 entry is now available under Modules, at the bottom of the page. Please apply by 20 April 2020 for first round interviews in early May.

Introducing your degree

This collaborative programme is jointly delivered by the University of Southampton and Marwell Wildlife, an action orientated conservation organisation, dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity and other natural resources. You will be taught by active conservation biologists, and undertake a 8-month research project, feeding into the wider ongoing research at Marwell, which has real-life conservation implications. Unlike other institutions, during the application process you will have the opportunity to highlight 3 projects you have an interest in and will be assigned to a project based on your preferences before starting the programme. You will also undertake a field course to Kenya (unless the political situation deteriorates, in which case we will seek an alternative location), as part of the taught component of the programme.

Photo of Rachel Gardner
We have been provided with many opportunities which (having looked at a number of other courses within this field) I believe you would be pushed to find elsewhere in the UK, and probably even beyond. We have undertaken a field course to Kenya, and been involved in Marwell's conservation efforts both in the zoo and at its conservation sites in the UK.
Rachel Gardner, MRes Wildlife Conservation
MRes Wildlife Conservation

Distinctive benefits of your course:

  • The teaching of Wildlife Conservation is mainly delivered by the Marwell team of professional conservation biologists and take place in the Science & Learning Centre at Marwell Zoo, (next to the snow leopard enclosure), with practical sessions at Marwell’s research sites.
  • A large ‘Wildlife Conservation’ module provides the opportunity to synthesise knowledge and promotes an integrated approach across the discipline.
  • Develop your generic skills in the design of data collection protocols, through our 'Advanced Quantitative Methods' module
  • Undertake an in-depth 8-month individual research project in collaboration with Marwell Wildlife’s ongoing conservation research, either in the UK or abroad.
  • Currently the only UK Wildlife Conservation programme with such a high degree of collaboration between a university and a conservation organisation, with the ultimate aim of producing graduates who have the skills for employment by conservation non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and/or to pursue an academic career.
  • During your MRes year, you will be a member of the team of conservation biologists at Marwell, and treated as such. Free access to Marwell zoo, including staff discounts in cafes and shops. A small number of passes for friends and family to visit the zoo.

View the programme specification for this course for 2020/21 entrants

View the programme specification for this course for 2021/22 entrants

Research project briefs: 

Research projects briefs will available under the "Modules" tab in January 2020. Applying for a particular project means that you will know your research project title before you begin the course, and can therefore begin immediately. Final assessments take place the following September. Project content is based on conservation challenges within Marwell's existing portfolio of work in the UK and overseas. In the person specification part of your application, state your top three research project choices, by rank, providing information on why you would be an appropriate person to undertake the project and what you hope to gain from it. A document listing BIOL6051 Research project briefs for 2020-2021 entry will be available under the Modules tab in January 2020.

Fee information (see "Fees and Funding" tab for more detail):

The tuition fee covers the delivery of the programme’s taught modules, including a full semester of teaching and access to facilities within the School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton and at Marwell Wildlife. As well as a 10-day field course, including flights and accommodation (students are required to cover the costs of visas, vaccinations and anti-malarials, as required). There are additional costs associated with the research project (see below).


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.

Costs associated with this course

  1. Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.
  2. Students must also separately cover the costs for BIOL6051, the research project. A standard fee is not charged, students pay costs directly as incurred. Descriptions of available research projects including indicative costs can be found under the “entry requirements” tab. The research costs fall into three bands and are based on the typical costs incurred in previous years. You must ensure that you have the funds to support your research project. During semester one you will work with your project supervisor to produce a detailed budget. These costs are to cover items such as all travel (international and local), accommodation, subsistence, clothing, visas, vaccinations, printing, small pieces of equipment and consumables etc. You will not be expected to pay for expensive pieces of equipment if they are available from Marwell e.g. Camera traps, environmental measuring equipment, binoculars, etc. If your financial circumstances suddenly change due to reasons beyond your control, you may be eligible for the University hardship fund, and we may be able to adjust or change the project to reduce costs.

To Apply

To register interest or to be sent more information please contact: Postgraduate Admissions Office +44(0)23 8059 4348 /

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 (See "Fees and Funding" tab)
  • obtain documentation to support your application
  • identify the project you are interested in on your application (see "Entry Requirements" tab)

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'.

Important dates

We will have two main dates for considering applications and holding interviews. The first will be around Easter and the second during the summer. Projects offered to applicants from the first round will be removed from the list of those available to second round applicants. More specific application and interview dates will be provided here in January 2020.

Later applications will be considered on an individual basis.

Following interviews, offers will be made and projects allocated, thus to choice of projects could be reduced for later applicants.

Programme Structure

The duration of the full-time programme is one year. The programme involves teaching activities occupying one third of the programme and a research project occupying the remaining two thirds of the programme. All taught modules will take place in Semester 1, generally running from October to January and including a field trip. You will attend lectures at Marwell Wildlife’s zoological park on Mondays and Tuesdays during this time.

The research project starts in the first semester with the development of a detailed proposal, then leads to the practical research undertaken from January and normally completed with your project presentation in early September.

There are two taught modules on this programme, one is worth 7.5 ECTS credits which equates to 150 hours of study, and one worth 22.5 ECTS which equates to 450 hours of study. The hours of study include contact teaching with the remainder of the time for your own independent study.

You will also be encouraged to attend research seminars in the School of Biological Sciences. In particular, you will be encouraged to attend key seminars from leading visiting scientists. You will also have the opportunity to be part of the Biological Sciences’ weekly “Conservation club”, which includes presentations from PhD students and academic staff, and discussions on new or seminal research or topics related to Conservation Biology.

Graduates will find the extra support offered by the MRes programme an excellent way to prepare for a subsequent PhD project as you will experience what it is like to be a postgraduate research student and benefit from the experience of an intensive research project. Students should note that the research undertaken for the MRes Project would be independent of research for a PhD. Graduates will also have the experience of working amongst a team of conservation biologists at a conservation organisation, Marwell Wildlife.

Key Facts

Our students benefit from £50 million investment in our purpose built Life Science building.

100 percent of our research has been rated world leading or internationally excellent for its impact on society (REF2014).

We are a founding member of the Russell Group, an organisation of 24 major research-intensive universities in the UK, with a strong history of translating research into real-world impacts.

Typical entry requirements

Selection process

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 asked to list their top three research project choices in the person specification of their application.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by representatives from the School 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).

Interviews will take place at Marwell Wildlife, in the Science & Learning Centre. Overseas candidates can be interviewed via Skype or equivalent.

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.

Typical course content

Students on MRes Wildlife Conservation programme take two core taught modules: One large module (BIOL6091) is programme-specific and taught at Marwell Wildlife, delivered by their team of Conservation Biologists. A statistical skills module (BIOL6052) is taught at the School of Biological Sciences. The research project (BIOL6051) starts by developing a research proposal followed by the 8-month research project in semester 2, under the supervision of a Marwell Wildlife Conservation Biologist and a University of Southampton academic.

Semester 1

BIOL6091 Wildlife Conservation 2020-21

Marwell Wildlife’s conservation biologists deliver this large module. Lectures and seminars take place in the Science & Learning Centre at Marwell Zoo, and practical sessions at Marwell’s research sites, including the zoo and a field trip to Kenya. The module is taught as three integrated themes:

  1. Wildlife Conservation: 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, ecological restoration and anthropogenic sources of conflict. By the end of this theme, you will have an understanding of the value and limitations of applying biological principles and disciplines to real-world conservation.
  2. Species Integrity: we will discuss the biological components of species integrity, from molecular genetics, to morphology, to behaviour, and interactions with environment (e.g.functional niches), through to ecosystem functioning. You will consider the role of species life histories and individual differences in selective processes in human-dominated environments; the preservation of species integrity in zoos, human-dominated landscapes, in protected areas and beyond, into the wild (however we define it).You will evaluate exactly what it is we are conserving and consider what is important, the species itself or the process that produces them.
  3. Fieldwork Techniques: you will be introduced to a host of tools specific to monitoring and surveying wildlife, and encouraged to make use of the facilities at Marwell, to spend independent study time familiarising themselves with the items and becoming competent and confident in their use. Students will visit one of Marwell’s conservation science sites in Kenya for 10 days and seek to understand the context and complexities of conserving species and habitats at that location. Small groups of students will undertake a small survey devised with Marwell Conservation Biologists, to allow them to understand and apply field survey techniques.

Tutorials will consider wildlife conservation from a broader context, bringing together the three themes. Students will complete a reflective notebook based on discussions during tutorials.

BIOL6052 Data Management and Generalised Linear Modelling for Biologists

Semester 2

BIOL6051 MRes Wildlife Conservation research project


Research project

MRes Wildlife Conservation research projects 2020-21

Information on available projects for 2020 entry is available at the bottom of this page


Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Tuition fees

List of tuition fees for this course and it's variations
Course TitleAwardYear of entryMode of studyUK/EUInternational
Wildlife ConservationMRes2020Full-time£13,000£23,400
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

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Teaching and Learning Methods
To assist the development of your knowledge and understanding of wildlife conservation we use a wide range of teaching methods in this MRes Wildlife Conservation Masters by Research programme. Prior to your in-depth 8 month research project, you will develop core knowledge and understanding via two core taught modules (BIOL6091 and BIOL6052) which will include: lectures, tutor-led and student-led tutorials, student-led seminars, presentations, practical classes, case studies, fieldwork, group exercises and guided independent study. A wide range of support is available for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Assessment methods

To test your knowledge and understanding of material presented in the lectures and associated practicals, you will be assessed via a combination of written submissions, oral presentations, fieldwork reports, and practical competence exercises.  Assessments will be both Formative (do not contribute marks, purely for feedback and development), and Summative (marks contribute to the award, feedback provided). These modules do not use traditional unseen exam paper tests at the end of a module. At the start of your research project, you will complete a research proposal that will include a logistical framework matrix, financial budget, Gantt chart, risk and ethical considerations, which will be assessed by the project supervisors, based at the University of Southampton and Marwell Wildlife. Following this, data collection for your individual 8-month research project 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, written in the style of a journal paper and an oral presentation. Following successful completion of the project, there may be an opportunity to refine your draft paper, with your supervisory team, and to publish your research in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Additional support can be provided for those students who have further or specific needs.


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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