Postgraduate study

Biodiversity & Taxonomy of Plants

Awards: MSc, PgDip

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

The understanding of plant diversity and resources has never been more important. As we face the unprecedented challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, effective environmental surveillance and conservation depend upon detailed knowledge of plants and their habitats.

This programme is run jointly by the University and the world-renowned Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).

This programme is run jointly by the University and the world-renowned Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). The RBGE is home to one of the world’s best living collections of plants (15,000 species across four sites, amounting to five per cent of known world species), a herbarium of three million preserved specimens and one of the UK’s most comprehensive botanical libraries.

RBGE offers collections-based biodiversity research opportunities across a wide spectrum of organisms and geographical regions. This diversity, coupled with the RBGE’s world-leading research in different continents, provides an unrivalled masters programme in plant biodiversity.

This programme is full time and consists of two semesters of lectures, practicals, workshops and investigations, followed by a four-month research project. The programme includes a two-week field course in a tropical country (recently Belize).

The programme is delivered mainly at RBGE but also at the University’s King’s Buildings campus.

There are no option elements to the programme – all courses are compulsory.

Courses

  • Conservation and Sustainability
  • Taxonomy and Plant Collections
  • Biodiversity of Angiosperms
  • Evolution of Cryptogams and Fungi
  • Evolution of Angiosperms
  • Plant Geography
  • Phylogenetics and Population Genetics
  • Biodiversity of Cryptogams and Fungi

Research

Your research project will be chosen in consultation with your supervisor, and will link directly with active research programmes at RBGE or other research institutions.

The field trip, together with training and a short practical exam, qualifies you for the RBGE Certificate in Practical Field Botany.

The programme is good preparation for roles in taxonomy, while many graduates have also continued to PhD studies. Past students have entered a wide variety of jobs at research institutions, conservation agencies and elsewhere.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in biological or environmental science. Relevant work experience is desirable (for example, any prior activities that would prepare you for the programme, such as: attending workshops or short courses, collecting trips, plant-related previous jobs, publication of papers etc).

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section
  • PTE(A): total 61 with at least 56 in each of the Communicative Skills scores
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

For detailed information on fee status, policies and payment see:

Additional programme costs cover research project bench fees and compulsory field course costs.

On acceptance of our unconditional offer, in order to guarantee your place on the programme, you will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £300 within one month. This is not an additional cost; it will be refunded to you after you have paid your fees in full. Payment details will be sent to you.

  • Programme Administrator
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 7052
  • Email: btpmsc@ed.ac.uk
  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit a reference with your application.

Demand for places on this programme is extremely high and places are allocated to suitably qualified applicants on a first-come first-served basis.

If you are applying for funding we encourage you to submit your programme application as early as possible because, in most cases, you will need a programme offer before you can make your funding application. Most funding deadlines are no later than June.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Administrator
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 7052
  • Email: btpmsc@ed.ac.uk
  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD