UCL Division of Biosciences


New Draft of MSc Biodiversity and Global Change

This programme is a collaboration between three globally renowned organisations with world-leading expertise in applied biodiversity research: UCL's Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, including the Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, the Natural History Museum and the Institute of Zoology at the Zoological Society of London. Collectively, the partners lead international research into global biodiversity declines (including leading the Living Planet Report and contributing to the Intergovernmental Panels on Climate Change and Biodiversity/Ecosystem Services), understanding the ecological basis of zoonotic disease, wildlife health, field-based conservation programmes in both terrestrial and marine environments, molecular and autonomous approaches to biodiversity monitoring, harnessing the vast collections at the Natural History Museum, and securing a secure and sustainable supply of food for humans, among a vast array of other research areas. By having access to the enormous range of world-leading research topics and methodologies, students will get a unique insight into the many ways that biodiversity research is applied to topics of critical importance for achieving a sustainable future.

MSc Biodiversity and Global Change Degree Overview

The MSc Biodiversity and Global Change provides a grounding in the science that is essential for tackling the biodiversity crisis in an era of global change. The MSc provides vocational training for those developing careers in applied conservation, environmental policy, and environmental management. This new programme took its first cohort in 2021. 

Biodiversity provides many benefits to people, for example by pollinating crops, controlling pests, promoting soil fertility, and providing goods and aesthetic pleasure. Yet biodiversity is threatened, with global and local extinctions and widespread population declines driven by factors including land use change, climate change, overharvesting and invasive species.

Maintaining biodiversity is crucial for supporting economic and social development, as recognized in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and through initiatives such as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). To understand biodiversity and prevent further loss, we need to meld approaches from ecology, evolution and conservation biology. 

Why Study Biodiversity and Global Change at UCL?

Learning objectives

  • Understand the science of biodiversity, including key concepts in macroecology, evolutionary biology, global change biology, and conservation biology. 
  • Understand the scientific methods that underpin the study of biodiversity, including ecological and evolutionary models, statistics, and experimental design. 
  • Understand how biodiversity conservation relates to human wellbeing and learn tools and skills of applied biodiversity conservation.
  • Link academic research to applied conservation challenges, including engaging with leading conservation organisations. 
  • Develop skills in communicating biodiversity science to a non-specialist audience.

Course Structure

You will learn through a mixture of lectures, seminars, discussion classes, and group work, as well as undertaking personal reading and research for your dissertation under the supervision of at least one expert in the field. 

Compulsory modules

Optional modules

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits comprising compulsory modules of 135 credits and optional modules of 45 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Biodiversity and Global Change.


Students undertake a field trip to Blakeney Point, Norfolk. Taking place towards the beginning of term one, students are introduced to field techniques and experimental design

2021 Field Trip: Blakeney Point

The trip, which involved students staying on Blakeney Point for two to three nights, provided students with their first exposure to teaching on their course, and aims to encourage them to think about experimental design, how to design a protocol for field sampling to solve a specific problem, and collect data following said protocol. This introduced them to some of the problems they may experience whilst working with biological samples and sampling.

students on a field trip to Blakeney Point

UCL has been running field trips to Blakeney Point for over a century. Students arrive by boat in small groups and are often the only people staying on the Point at one time. During their stay, students are able to see the habitat of an array of residential and migratory wildlife.

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Professor Tim Blackburn states: “The Blakeney field trip is a great way for us to get to know the students – and for the students to get to know each other – against the backdrop of one of England’s oldest nature reserves."

Career Opportunities

The MSc will provide vocational training for those developing careers in applied conservation, environmental policy, and environmental management. 

There is growing need for individuals with strong grounding in these disciplines to play central roles in tackling this challenge within different sectors, including government departments, NGOs, businesses, and academia. We can meet this need due to our long experience with teaching methods in biology that promote biodiversity education and how they support biodiversity learning.

Useful Careers Resources:

My UCL Careers
UCL Neuroscience Careers Network
Innovation and Enterprise Training and Opportunities for Students
Professional Development Courses
Linked In Learning
Public Engagement Training
Public Policy Training

Interested in Start-ups?

Many of our students are interested in start-ups, social enterprises and developing entrepreneurial skills. UCL's Innovation and Enterprise division offer training, start-up grants, competitions, communities and much more, all of which are free to students on this programme.

UCL's entrepreneurship community has supported over 300 UCL start-ups since 2010 and raised over £280 million in investment. 

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In addition to potentially starting a successful business, making use of the resources at UCL in this area provides students with the opportunity to develop business skills, chances to network in London's start up community and projects that will serve them well on their CVs as well as in future job interviews. 

Find out more about the exciting opportunities to develop your entrepreneurial skills while you undertake this programme. 

Find Out More

For information on entry requirements, fees, how to apply and much more visit the MSc Biodiversity and Global Change Prospectus Page.

MSc Biodiversity and Global Change Prospectus Page