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MSc Biodiversity and Global Change

The MSc Biodiversity and Global Change focuses on the evolutionary and ecological processes that underpin biodiversity. The MSc will provide vocational training for those developing careers in applied conservation, environmental policy, and environmental management.

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. 

Course benefits

  • Students have access to excellent facilities, including the field station at Blakeney Point in Norfolk, our on-site museum, the Grant Museum of Zoology and the UCL Cruciform Hub.

  • Our research-led teaching also takes advantage of our links with other top London institutions such as the Natural History Museum and ZSL London Zoo.

  • Taught in the Division of Biosciences, we offer a breadth of biological education unmatched in almost any other UK university.

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.

Modules 

Compulsory modules

  • Computational Methods in Biodiversity Research
  • Biodiversity Generation and Maintenance (15 credits) (delivered collaboratively by UCL, ZSL and NHM)
  • Applied Biodiversity Conservation (15 credits) (delivered collaboratively by UCL, ZSL and NHM)
  • MSc Biodiversity and Conservation Research Project (90 credits) (delivered collaboratively by UCL, ZSL and NHM)

Optional modules

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.

bird at blakeney point png

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.