Postgraduate study

Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants MSc, PgDip

Awards: MSc, PgDip

Funding opportunities

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). 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 can also be taken on a part-time basis over two years. Part-time students can opt either to take 60 credits of taught courses in the first year of study, followed by the remaining 60 credits of taught courses and the four-month research project in the second year of study, or all taught courses in the first year followed by the four-month research project in the second year of study.

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.

The programme can also be taken on a part time basis over two years.

Part-time students wishing to take 60 credits of taught courses in the first year of study, followed by the remaining 60 credits of taught courses and the four-month research project in the second year of study should apply for the MSc Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants (60/120 credits) - 2 Years (Part-time).

Part-time students wishing to take all taught courses in the first year followed by the four-month research project in the second year of study should apply for the MSc Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants (120/60 credits) - 2 Years (Part-time).

Please note that part-time tuition fees vary depending on the number of credits taken per year.

If you are interested in part-time study but unsure which part-time route to apply for, you are encouraged to contact the Programme Director to discuss both options prior to submitting an application. It is possible to transfer between part-time routes prior to the commencement of study.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in biological, horticultural, 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).

Other degrees will be considered on an individual basis, provided that a keen interest in plants can be demonstrated.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • 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 Academic: 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

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fee deposit

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.

Tuition fees

Please note that part-time tuition fees vary depending on the number of credits taken each year.

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

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

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
  • Contact: btpmsc@ed.ac.uk
  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD