Animal Behaviour Applications for Conservation MSc

Postgraduate ( full-time, part-time)


January 2017, September 2016

Course duration: 12 months full-time or 28 months part-time (September starts), 15 months full-time or 33 months part-time (January starts).


Gain the skills to protect and manage wildlife and habitats to make a difference to their future survival. Train in the technologies and scientific methods used in modern conservation.

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Full description


Our graduates build successful careers in many roles including conservation biologist, scientist or curator at a zoo, conservation educator, ecotourism or environmental consultancy. As a conservationist you can choose work with many organisations, from private companies to NGOs and government departments. You're also in the perfect position to continue your academic career and move up to our Animal and Environmental Sciences PhD.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Technology and Techniques in the Study of Animal Behaviour
    Appreciate of the diversity of methods available when studying animal behaviour. You’ll learn new methods available for understanding animal behaviour and investigate important insights in understanding vulnerability and approaches to conservation.
  • Behavioural Ecology and Conservation
    Consider how behavioural decisions affect the survival of species in an increasingly human-altered landscape, and how understanding behaviour can be critical to conservation initiatives.
  • Research Methods
    Gain the support and foundations in the research skills for your Master’s level dissertation. You’ll investigate generic research activities, including project management and dissertation preparation. Your topics could include the consideration of suitable content, planning, and the use of project management software.
  • Research Project
    Here, you'll be complete a significant research project and present the results in a thesis, prepared to the highest scientific professional standards. You'll focus on a topic that you're passionate about, and receive support from an academic tutor. Throughout the module you’ll develop your academic and research skills, how you express yourself through scientific communication, both verbal and written. There’ll be continued development of skills with regards to writing for publications, considering where your research may be published in the future.

Optional modules

  • Practical Applications of DNA Based Technologies
    This laboratory-based module will introduce you to various DNA technologies that have become pivotal in assessing the conservation status of endangered species.
  • Study Tour: Understanding Biodiversity and Sustainability
    Explore the issues central to wildlife conservation on a residential field trip to Borneo. You’ll integrate an understanding of the natural world and ecological processes, with current conservation problems, including their socio-political and ethical dimensions in a practical context. Please note, this module includes a compulsory field trip. The estimated cost of this is £1,200.
  • GIS Tools for Biodiversity Mapping and Conservation
    You'll look at how and why species distributions change over time and applies skills in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to map and analyse such changes.
  • Introduction to Sustainability and Systems
    Sets the scene for the rest of the course. And addresses the questions; 'What is sustainability?', 'What are its components?' and 'Why is it so important?' The importance of a systems-based approach to addressing sustainability and its epistemology will be discussed and you will examine a range of current concepts and models of sustainability (including 'circular economy', 'five capitals', 'natural step', 'one planet living' etc) and their usefulness in increasing our resilience to environmental, social and economic change.
  • Communication Skills for Conservation
    Explore how to communicate scientific information to different audiences (scientific or non-scientific) verbally and in writing, but also through web pages and social networks. Delivered by distance learning, this module will give you an innovative experience in terms of the learning experience and assessment.
  • Governance and Behavioural Change
    You'll consider how and what can be done to deliver the changes required. You'll explore the drivers for behaviour change and assess some of the top-down (eg legislation, incentives and deregulation) and bottom-up approaches to governance using global (eg Avaaz), national (eg Cuba and Costa Rica) and local (eg Transition Towns, indigenous action, etc.) case studies as well as evaluate what it takes for an individual to become a successful change agent.
  • Better Business
    Focus on the growing business case for sustainability and examine the role of leadership, purpose, innovation and culture to create an organisation which 'does business better'. You'll chart progress and examine good practice towards more environmentally, socially and economically responsible business practice and the emergence of social enterprises and values-led businesses and its articulation through concepts such as cradle-to-cradle, biomimicry and circular economy. We'll examine The Eden Project itself, to help you understand its characteristics, culture and ethos and you will assess the transferability of some of key principles to other organisations - for example, the power of vision, collaboration and effective engagement techniques.
  • Changing Distribution and Invasive Species
    This module examines how and why species distributions change over time. Skills learned in the associated Geographical Information Systems (GIS) module (MOD003359) may be used to map and analyse such changes. The management of biological resources and habitats are considered. The module draws on various case studies and guest lectures on themes such as: urban birds; modelling of elephants in Tanzania; Marine Protected Areas; Key Biodiversity Areas; phenology; and the National Biodiversity Network Gateway. The main subject areas are: (i) Biotic and abiotic limits to species distributions at differing spatial and temporal scales. (ii) The challenges of climate change and habitat fragmentation. (iii) The role of biological recording / citizen science in studying species distribution changes; use of and access to biological records. (iv) Invasive alien species. This is a major theme of the module. Areas considered include: (a) mechanisms of spread and invasion routes of invasive species; (b) impacts on biodiversity and people; (c) risk assessment. Invasive native species are also considered. As a formative exercise, students will work in groups to prepare and deliver a presentation based on a relevant peer-reviewed paper. Assessment will be by coursework, part of which will involve students finding and manipulating a species dataset.. Outline Content - Limits to distribution - Spatial and temporal scales of distribution change - Biological Records - Climate change and its effects on biodiversity - Habitat modelling - Invasive alien species (e.g. animals (terrestrial, freshwater and marine) and plants)
  • System Pressures
    Focus on the scientific underpinnings of some of the main global challenges we face. You’ll assess the approaches we can use to address these risks, including mitigation, adaptation and resilience and the potential outcomes of these interventions, including positive outcomes. You’ll cover the major global challenges of climate change, resource use and population growth. We change some of our topics from year to year, in response to global events. Our topics may include energy use and biodiversity loss, social inequality and the links between environmental resource use and the performance of global and local economies. We’ll also share with you some of the most recent data and thinking coming from the GSI and Eden Project on topics such as resource constraints, conservation and behaviour change.


We'll assess your progress with a combination of assignments, case studies, group work and presentations, as well as your major project.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Science & Technology is one of the largest of five faculties at Anglia Ruskin University. Whether you choose to study with us full- or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, to a BSc, MSc, PhD or professional doctorate. 

Whichever course you pick, you’ll gain the theory and practical skills needed to progress with confidence. Join us and you could find yourself learning in the very latest laboratories or on field trips or work placements with well-known and respected companies. You may even have the opportunity to study abroad.

Everything we do in the faculty has a singular purpose: to provide a world-class environment to create, share and advance knowledge in science and technology fields. This is key to all of our futures.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year part time)


International students, 2016/17 (per year)


Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you're studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

Additional costs

Borneo field trip
Cost £1200

How do I pay my fees?

Paying upfront

You won't need to pay fees until you've accepted an offer to attend, but you must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter/financial guarantee. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees
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Funding for UK & EU students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our funding guide for postgraduate students to learn more about the following:

  • The Government’s new £10k Masters loan
  • Applying for our scholarships
  • Additional funding options and support
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Funding for international students

We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

Entry requirements are for September 2016 and January 2017 entry. Entry requirements for other intakes may differ.

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International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

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English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

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Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online