Biomedical Sciences

Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health (MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma)

This programme will prepare you for a career in conservation, or help existing wildlife and conservation professionals to secure senior roles in specialist areas.   Many of our graduates realise their ambitions to change careers, or to take a more active role in promoting the value of nature in their communities and workplaces. Others use this programme as a stepping stone to further study and research careers.

With ever-increasing environmental threats, it is vital that people fully appreciate the complex relationships between human populations, wildlife and the ecosystems in which they live. There is an increasing need for those in the field of conservation to employ a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to ecosystem management in a way that accommodates the needs of all species living within them.  If you want to be part of a global network working to achieve these goals, this programme may be for you. 


Video: BMTO BWEH Susanna
Susanna explains why she chose the Masters in Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health, and what she enjoyed about the programme


What makes this particular masters programme so valuable is not only its time flexibility, but the knowledgeable professors, as well as the diverse pool of students all of which are always engaged and willing to support one another.

Denisse Guittara


What will you learn?  

Year 1

In Year 1 of the programme you will study three core courses: 

Year 2 

In Year two you will choose six elective courses from the following: 

  • Behavioural Flexibility 
  • Climate Change: Policy and Practice 
  • Connecting Environment and Society 
  • Conservation and Conflict 
  • Conservation Genetics 
  • Conservation Psychology 
  • Ecosystem Resilience and Extreme Events 
  • Innovative Approaches to Health Challenges Across Disciplines 
  • Introduction to Transboundary Diseases and their impact on trade and wildlife populations  
  • Introduction to GIS and Spatial Data Analysis 
  • Introduction to Wildlife Forensics 
  • Invasive Non-native Species   
  • Land Use and Food Security 
  • Led by locals: power and participation in conservation
  • Managing and Leading Conservation Projects 
  • Science Communication and Engagement for Practice 
  • Species Translocations 
  • The Marine Environment 
  • The Modern Zoo 
  • The Use of Artificial Reproduction Technology (ARTs) in Threatened Species   
  • Water and Sanitation 
  • Wildlife, Animal Health and the Environment   
  • Wildlife Trade  
  • Zoonotic Disease 

Year 3

In Year 3 you have the option to either complete a dissertation of 10000-15000 words or take the alternative route to Masters.  If you opt for the dissertation, you will be supported by your supervisor to develop a detailed proposal around a research topic that aligns with your interests.  

If you take the alternative route you will take 30 additional credits of elective courses, and complete 30 credits working on an applied research project, where the output is intended to be a working document or resource developed to communicate with a specific audience.  Examples include a business plan, a public engagement plan, a website, a lesson plan, etc.  Regardless of the option taken,  students often choose to work on topics relevant to their workplace, their community local conservation organisations, and aim to have genuine impact.

Full details of the courses you will study on the programme are available on the university Degree Programme Table (DPT)

Course information

Programme Structure


You can study this programme on a part-time basis. On successful completion of the courses and assessments you can graduate: 

  • After one year with a postgraduate certificate 
  • After two years with a postgraduate diploma 
  • After three years with a Masters. 

Intermittent Study 

Intermittent study allows more flexibility in how you choose to study. With this option you will have:

  • up to 2 years to complete the certificate
  • up to 4 years to complete the diploma
  • up to 6 years to complete the MSc

The standard programme structure is still maintained in terms of the progression requirement, where you must meet a minimum level of success by the end of the diploma study. However, you can tailor your education to fit more closely with commitments in both your private and professional life. If you choose to study this programme on a part-time intermittent basis, you also pay your tuition fees on a course-by-course basis rather than paying for the entire programme at the outset. 

Postgraduate Professional Diploma

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course, without the time or financial commitment of a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.  

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit. Alternatively, after one year of taking courses, you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to studying towards a higher award on a Postgraduate Diploma or MSc programme.  You will be required to take 60 credits of compulsory courses that make up the PG Certificate year but can use your PPD credits towards electives taken during the PG Diploma year.

Although PPD courses have various start dates throughout the year you may only start a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme in the month of September. Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme. 


Entry Requirements  

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.  

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a zoological, biological, environmental, veterinary or a relevant bio-science topic.  

We may also consider your application if your degree is in an unrelated discipline but you have relevant work experience; please contact us to check before you apply. You may be admitted to Certificate level only in the first instance. 

Full entry requirements, including international qualifications and English language requirements, can be found on the University Programme Degree Finder. 

Fees and Scholarships

Tuition fees are standard for all students regardless of location or nationality.

Applicants from eligible Commonwealth countries who secure an offer to study this programme are invited to apply for a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship. The scholarship covers full tuition fees. The deadline for scholarship application is 28th March 2024. Please check the information on Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships for eligibility criteria, number of available awards, T&C and additional information. Deadline for application is 16:00 GMT on Thursday 28 March 2024.

We offer a 10% scholarship in postgraduate degree tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated with an undergraduate degree from the University of Edinburgh.   

A breakdown of fees can be found on the University Programme Degree Finder


Speak to a current student online 

Want to find out more about the online experience? You can email an online student through our student portal, Unibuddy, and ask them questions about their experience.

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