Postgraduate study

Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health (Online Learning) PgProfDev

Awards: PgProfDev

Study modes: Part-time Intermittent Study

Online learning

Funding opportunities

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
Denisse Guittara

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 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.

What will you learn?

Postgraduate Certificate (1 year part-time, 2 years intermittent study)

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

Evolution and Biodiversity

This course will develop your understanding of evolutionary theory and the concept of biodiversity, including how it is measured and managed. You will explore the drivers for biodiversity loss, with particular emphasis on the interaction between human activities and the current acceleration in biodiversity loss.

Ecosystem Health and Sustainability

This course will develop your understanding of ecosystem health and how this relates to sustainability. You will look at various global conventions and initiatives that attempt to mainstream sustainability goals into broader human activity and to achieve internationally agreed targets. We will look at how the Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved as well as where barriers may exist.

Environmental Ethics and Governance

This course explores the decisions, responsibilities and challenges that underpin many environmental and conservation interventions. From individual research projects to broader requirements of good governance we look at the ethical frameworks that assist in directing meaningful environmental science.

You will be encouraged to analyse in depth the many conflicts that can exist in the development and implementation of new technologies or strategies and to come to their own conclusions as to what is acceptable.

Postgraduate Diploma

(2 years part-time, 4 years intermittent study)

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
  • Reflections on Professional Development
  • 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

Elective course availability will be subject to student demand. Course availability and allocations for Year 2 will be finalised in consultation with students during the Certificate phase of the programme.

(Revised 12 and 16 May 2023 to update elective courses.)

Masters (3 years part-time, 6 years intermittent study)

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)

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Academies.

Online programmes are delivered through the University's Virtual Learning Environment, LEARN. Our award-winning, online learning technology is fully interactive, and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

Our online students not only have access to the University of Edinburgh’s excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

How will you learn?

Study materials are released on a weekly basis, providing an overview of the study topic, suggested reading materials and key questions that address the learning outcomes for the course.

You are expected to split your time between independent study and interacting with peers and course tutors on the discussion boards in order to fully explore the topic and your understanding of it.

Summative written and online assessment will test your knowledge and understanding of the learning outcomes, as well as the ability to communicate with others in a variety of ways. The course relies heavily on reading primary literature as well as key publications from the conservation sector.

You should expect to spend between 12 and 15 hours per week on reading course materials, engaging with peers and tutors on the discussion boards and preparing assessed work. It is up to you how you organise your time from week to week, with course materials and discussion boards available for the duration of the course.

Learning is delivered through:

  • Weekly materials, written notes, recommended reading, organised discussions with other learners, tutors and course organisers. Short recorded items or podcasts may also be available for you to watch or listen to in your own time.
  • Opportunities to connect regularly with your course organiser and programme team to address concerns and monitor progress.
  • Individual assessments including essays, data presentations, proposals and presentations that will reinforce what you have learnt.
  • Group assignments and online discussions with your peers will expose you to different perspectives and new ways of thinking about a problem or topic.
  • Independent study and reflection.
  • Student Support and Facilities

You will have access to online student services including:

  • library resources
  • well-being and student support services
  • technical support
  • study skills support

Studying online at Edinburgh

Find out more about the benefits and practicalities of studying for an online degree:


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. 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.

(Revised 12 May 2023 to add detail around credits for compulsory courses.)

Semester dates for the academic year 2022-2023

These are key dates in the academic year, which vary slightly year to year. For your programme these are:

  • Welcome Week: 12 September 2022
  • Term 1: 19 September - 9 December 2022
  • Term 2: 9 January – 31 March 2023
  • Term 3: 10 April - 30 June 2023

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PgProfDevBiodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem HealthUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2023/24

This programme has been designed to help you find work in environmental, intergovernmental, national and international agencies, as well as lobby groups, NGOs and other research groups.

If I could, I would indeed re-take this amazing Master's programme, because it helped me to understand and see different perspectives on environmental issues across the globe.

I think what makes this particular Master's programme so valuable is not only its time flexibility, but the knowledgable professors, as well as the diverse pool of students all of which are always engaged and willing to support one another.

I think the biggest challenge I faced during my Master's program was completing my thesis but my thesis advisor was a great support all throughout the process. Due to the direction my thesis took at the end, I gained new technical and problem-solving skills which I am applying at my current job. I highly recommend this programme to anyone looking into entering the conservation field or even established professionals seeking to gain new skills.

Denisse Guitarra

Student testimonial: Anthony Adeea

How does online learning work?

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.

Students from China

This degree is Band D.

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 (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, 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 (non-MESC).

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.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PgProfDevBiodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem HealthUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees

The University of Edinburgh offers a small number of scholarships to outstanding candidates. These are very competitive. We publish data on the success rate for scholarship applications to help you understand the level of demand.

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
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Office
  • College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine
  • Chancellor's Building
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4SB

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.

You must submit one reference with your application.

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

Further information

  • Postgraduate Office
  • College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine
  • Chancellor's Building
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4SB