Environmental Management (Conservation)

Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc


The University of Stirling has offered an innovative postgraduate course in Environmental Management with a Conservation specialisation since 2013, leading to the qualification of Diploma or MSc. The course provides the scientific knowledge and approaches for conservation science and practice and the opportunity to specialise in particular areas via the selection of relevant modules and the research project. Areas of potential specialisation include ecosystem services, environmental economics, conservation conflicts, habitat and biodiversity management and application of GIS and remote sensing. There is a compulsory residential course in field techniques, which takes place in the Cairngorm National Park. The MSc course is equally relevant to recent and mature graduates seeking a career in conservation science, governmental and non-governmental organisations.

In 2015/2016 we offer a brand new 2-week field course on tropical ecology and conservation in Gabon. Please find more information about the Gabon field course here

Our course gives students:

  • An understanding of the science that underpin conservation and sustainability
  • An understanding of the ecological, economic, social, political and legal frameworks for conservation
  • A comprehensive training in quantitative, theoretical, analytical and practical and generic skills.

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc
  • Study methods: Full-time, Campus based
  • Duration: MSc: 1 Year PG Diploma: 9 months PG Certificate: 4 months
  • Start date:


  • Course Director: Dr Nils Bunnefeld
Download postgraduate prospectus

Dr Nils Bunnefeld


University of Stirling

Course objectives

Graduates from this course will have gained knowledge in the broad field of conservation science, including collecting and analysing relevant data for sustainable decision-making and transferable skills relevant to future employment at national and international level.

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants from other disciplines with a 2:1 or 1st but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged 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 skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email graduate.admissions@stir.ac.uk to discuss your course of study.

Application procedure

Use the 'Apply Now' button on this page. If you have questions about the degree course, email Nils Bunnefeld.

Fees and costs

2018/19 Overseas £15,250
2018/19 Home/EU £7,900

Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & funding

SAAS Postgraduate Loans

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) is now offering a generous loan scheme to assist eligible Scottish and EU-domiciled students pursuing a Masters at the University of Stirling during 2018/19. Find out more about SAAS Postgraduate Loans

For further information on possible sources of funding, visit: http://www.stir.ac.uk/postgraduate/financial-information/

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The basic structure is three modules in each of Semesters 1 and 2 followed by a dissertation with each module worth 20 credits at level 11 and the dissertation worth 60 credits. Students who successfully complete the taught course over two semesters will 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 conservation science relevant to their future employment.

Delivery and assessment

Contact hours in all modules will be 27-30 hours. Delivery will include a mixture of conventional lectures, workshop sessions, field excursions, student-led debates and oral presentations.

A variety of 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 tests of 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.


Students choose three of the following modules in the autumn

Analysis of Environmental Data builds competency in the use of R (a statistical analysis package) and RStudio (which makes coding in R easier) for the analysis of environmental data. Students understand how to undertake effective manipulation, statistical analysis, interpretation and presentation of data, and how to critically assess the same procedures in the scientific literature.

Environmental Policy and Management focuses on the establishment of environmental policy formulation principles and its relationship to environmental management, a critical awareness of the objectives, principles and instruments of environmental policy at a UK/EC level, and an understanding of how environmental management systems can be effectively integrated with business operations.

Environmental Economics enables students to understand and apply economic theory and methodologies to the better understanding of environmental problems, and to become competent in applying economic analysis to improve the design of environmental policy. 

Field Techniques  On this residential field course in the Scottish Cairngorms National Park students learn environmental monitoring and survey techniques and their limitations, and about sampling issues develop an awareness of up to date approaches and technology available for fieldwork. 


Students choose 3 of the following modules in the spring

Tropical Ecology and Conservation field course, Gabon On this two week field course to Lopé National Park in Gabon, students learn about the underlying ecological and socio-economic theories in tropical forest ecology and conservation which not only shape the management decisions at Lopé National Park, but are highly significant to global tropical ecology and conservation.

Environmental Impact Assessment focuses on the understanding of the current approaches, concepts and requirements for environmental impact assessments. In particular, specific knowledge on the types of environmental impacts caused through the different phases (e.g. construction, operation and decommissioning) of energy production infrastructure will be gained. 

Environmental Geomatics (GIS) delivers a knowledge of the concepts and foundations underlying Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Earth Observation (EO )and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), an understanding of different remote sensing platforms, instruments and data types, and builds an appreciation of the use of GIS and EO in environmental management.

Environmental Law covers the principles of environmental law at different levels (e.g. international, European, UK and Scottish) and examines how the regulations are enforced in Scotland and the UK.

Ecosystem Services explores the application of the ecosystem services concept to environmental management and conservation, provides an understanding of the principles of ecosystem functioning and the importance of biodiversity, raises awareness of the complex interactions and feedbacks between environmental and ecological processes and the policy context of different energy technologies. 

Modes of study

Full-time, one year; part-time, 24 months

Study method


Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

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 in the last two weeks of February. 

Why Stirling?


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 40 percent of research in Biological and Environmental Sciences at Stirling was graded as 'Internationally Excellent' or 'World Class' and a further 50 percent 'Internationally Recognised'.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .


Biological and Environmental Sciences at Stirling specialises in studies of man’s 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), and 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.

Our students

My time spent studying at the University of Stirling has been fantastic. On this course I've learned a lot of new skills, such as GIS and how to use the statistics package R, along with gaining new knowledge in a wide array of subjects. The stunning campus coupled with inspiring lecturers and classmates has provided the perfect learning environment for me to achieve my aspirations.

Will Smith studied Conservation and Sustainability in 2013/14

Our staff

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

You can follow the latest activities in conservation science at Stirling on our blog:

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Graduates from our School traditionally move swiftly into employment in the  conservation and environmental sectors. The Stirling area has a greater than average number of jobs in the conservation and environment sector. 

Examples of organisations where former students from our masters' courses are employed are:

Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Historic Scotland, and the RSPB.


98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16

Early on in this course, students take a residential field module in Scotland and immediately begin to learn practical identification, surveying, measuring and sampling skills. In addition, there is the option of a 2-week field course in tropical ecology and conservation in Gabon focusing on collecting data at the interface between climate change, forest dynamics and people’s use of the forest. Having learned how to collect data they are then taught how to analyse and report them and to work in a team to produce oral presentations. There are modules in Analysis of Environmental Data (using the free software R), GIS and Remote Sensing delivering transferable skills often required within environmental agencies, consultancies and international conservation organisations.

Industry connections

The University of Stirling is a hub for conservation activity in Scotland. Several conservation NGOs have offices in the University or on campus, including RSPB,  Scottish Natural Heritage, British Trust for Ornithology and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and we work closely with these organisations in conducting research which provides the evidence upon which they base their conservation strategies. We also have very good links with international organization such as Wildlife Conservation Society, with governmental organization such as Gabon National Park Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage and staff from these among our Honorary professors.

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