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MSc Environmental Management (Conservation)

Seeking a career in conservation science? Our innovative Masters course provides the scientific knowledge and transferable skills for a career in conservation.

Environmental Management (Conservation)

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date September
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months, MSc part-time: 24 months
  • Mode of study Part-time, Full-time, Campus based, Stand-alone modules

We’ve offered our innovative Environmental Management course with a specialisation in Conservation since 2013. With this Masters degree, you’ll gain the scientific knowledge and learn the approaches for conservation science and practice.

You’ll get the opportunity to specialise in particular areas with the selection of relevant modules and in your research project. Areas of potential specialisation include:

  • ecosystem services
  • environmental economics
  • conservation conflicts
  • habitat and biodiversity management
  • application of geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing

You’ll get plenty of practice in environmental conservation and management field skills, as there’s a compulsory residential field trip which takes place in the Cairngorm National Park. We also offer a two week field course on tropical ecology and conservation in Gabon. Find out more about the Gabon field course.

This course is relevant to both recent and mature graduates who are seeking a career in environmental management and conservation science, either in governmental or non-governmental organisations. Graduates from this course are knowledgeable in the broad field of conservation science. They have skills in collecting and analysing relevant data for sustainable decision-making, as well as transferable skills relevant to future employment at national and international level.

Watch our webinar

Find out more about our MSc Environmental Management course, as well as life at Stirling. Watch our webinar >>.

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Course objectives

    Our course will give you:

    • an understanding of the scientific principles that underpin environmental management
    • an understanding of the ecological, economic, social, political and legal frameworks for conservation
    • a sound training in the relevant practical, investigative, research and all-encompassing skills that are the most sought after by employers
  • Flexible learning

    If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

  • Faculty facilities

    Some of our key facilities include:

    • 11 specialist laboratories supporting a wide range of research interests from ecology to analytical chemistry to thin section and micromorphology
    • Stirling Controlled Environment Facility: a world-class facility for conducting experimental research investigating the impacts of climate and climate change
  • Research

    In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), 80% of our research impact in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences and 100% of our research impact in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology was rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

    Our research and impact positions us as leaders in the area of Environmental Protection and Biological Conservation. We are organised into two research groups:

    • Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
    • Environmental Systems, Change and Protection

    We specialise in studies of human interactions with the environment, and conservation science and sustainability is one of our core strengths. We have leading researchers working on various aspects of evidence-based conservation, including:

    • habitat management and restoration
    • population genetics of endangered species
    • tropical community ecology and impacts of invasive species

    Our areas of research include:

    • human-wildlife conflict (cranes)
    • forest management (pine marten)
    • urban ecology (bats),
    • the reintroduction of species (beavers)

    We also work on a diverse range of study systems such as African and South American forests, bushmeat and local livelihoods across Africa.

  • Academic requirements

    A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2:1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. If you have a 2:1 or a first class honours degree in another discipline and significant relevant work and life experience we still encourage you to apply.

  • English language requirements

    If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

    • IELTS 6.5 with 5.5 minimum in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 176 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with a minimum of 51 in each sub-skill
    • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing
    • Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Merit in all sub-skills, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills

    Last updated: 5 December 2019

    For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.

  • Pre-sessional English language courses

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

    Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

You’ll take three modules in each semester followed by a dissertation. Each module is worth 20 SCQF credits at level 11 and the dissertation is worth 60 credits.

If you meet the requirements of the taught course you’ll qualify for the Diploma and may proceed to the MSc. This involves completion of a three-month Research Project, often in collaboration with an outside agency. Students frequently choose a topic complementary to their option selection, allowing them to develop a high level of competence in aspects of environmental management relevant to their future employment.


The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery in the next academic intake of this course. These may be subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes.

Course Details

  • Teaching

    Delivery will include a mixture of conventional lectures, workshop sessions, field excursions, student-led debates and oral presentations.

  • Fieldwork

    You’ll take a residential field module and immediately begin to learn practical identification, surveying, measuring and sampling skills.

  • Assessment

    Various means of assessment will be used as appropriate to the content and outcomes of the individual modules. For example, the Field Techniques module is a practical skills-based course, so assessment will be based on testing these skills and on a collection of specimens put together by the student. Other modules are based on lectures and seminars and have a more traditional mix of essay assessments and exams

  • Classroom hours

    Contact hours in all modules will be 27 to 30 hours.

    Full-time students are expected to be on campus most days of the week, and part-time students should ensure that they are available for two to three days each week.

    The residential Cairngorms National Park field course takes place in early October over six days and the Gabon field course is during the last two weeks of February.

  • Course director

    Dr Nils Bunnefeld

    +44 (0) 1786 467804

    Dr Nils Bunnefeld is a leading researcher in conservation science and a member of the Tropical Ecology and Conservation Group.

  • Fees and costs

    Fees shown are per year (fees are different for each course)


    Home/EU Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course*

    If you’re domiciled in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover your tuition fees and associated living costs. Students domiciled in the EU can also apply for tuition fee support, although may not be eligible to receive funding to support living costs.

    If you're domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you should be eligible to apply for a loan from your regional body.

    English students apply for a loan of up to £10,609 per year as part of the UK Postgraduate Loan Scheme, Welsh students can apply for a non-means tested loan of up to £13,000 from the Welsh Government and Northern Irish students are eligible to apply for support of up to £5,500.

    *Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.


    Overseas (Non-EU) Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course. Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.


    Please note: You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

  • Scholarships and funding
    Commonwealth Shared Scholarships

    Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are for candidates from least developed and lower middle income Commonwealth countries, looking to study full-time on selected postgraduate Masters courses. Eligible courses include the MSc Environmental Management (Conservation).

    If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

    Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

  • Additional costs

    There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

  • Cost of living

    If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

    EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

    Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

  • Payment options

    We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

Graduates from the course have been quick to gain employment in the conservation and environmental sectors, with organisations including:

  • Scottish Wildlife Trust
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Keep Scotland Beautiful
  • Historic Scotland
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
  • Employability skills

    Early on in this course you’ll take a residential field module and immediately begin to learn practical identification, surveying, measuring and sampling skills. You’ll also have the option to take part in a two week field course studying tropical ecology and conservation in Gabon, where you’ll focus on collecting data at the interface between climate change, forest dynamics and people’s use of the forest.

    Having learned how to collect data, you’ll be taught how to analyse, report and present data through the modules, Analysis of Environmental Data (using R), GIS and Remote Sensing. You’ll gain the transferable skills often required within environmental agencies/consultancies, including the ability to translate theory into practice, to work in a team and independently, to plan and coordinate research, and to engage with a variety of different users.

  • Companies we work with

    The University of Stirling is a hub for environmental bodies in Scotland. Several environmental consultancies and NGOs have offices in or around the University, including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), British Trust for Ornithology and The Bumblebee Conservation Trust. We work closely with these organisations in conducting research which provides the evidence upon which their conservation strategies are based.

    We also have very good links with international organisations such as Wildlife Conservation Society, with governmental organisations such as Gabon National Park Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage. Some staff from these organisations are our Honorary professors.

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