Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity MSc

Awards: MSc

Funding opportunities

We live in a period of exceptional rates of environmental change, including climate change, urban expansion, the spread of invasive species, and ocean acidification. These changes present an unprecedented challenge to biodiversity.

This MSc is designed to equip you to play a key role in developing solutions to this global change crisis. The programme will provide you with opportunities to critically evaluate and apply state of the art quantitative ecological and evolutionary methods, combined with practical field skills, and to tailor communications for a diversity of audiences, from scientists to government.

You will be based in the School of Biological Sciences, which ranked in the top 5 for the UK for research power (REF 2022). The School is part of the new Centre for Adapting to Changing Environments, composed of over 100 research groups.

Courses will draw on a breadth of case studies across different ecosystems, from long-term vertebrate studies to marine microbes. There will be an emphasis on practice, including fieldwork, statistics, and coding.

The MSc comprises two semesters of taught courses followed by a research project and dissertation. Semester 1 includes 60 credits of compulsory courses and semester 2 has 30 credits of compulsory and 30 credits of optional courses.

Teaching is through lectures, tutorials, seminars, computer practicals, presentations and fieldwork. The semester 1 Professional skills for Ecology & Evolution course includes a residential field course, which will run at the start of semester 1.

Semester 1 courses:

  • Professional skills for ecology and evolution
  • Biodiversity under pressure
  • Data analysis and statistics

Semester 2 courses:

  • Eco-evolutionary responses to environmental change
  • Research proposal
  • Optional courses

Field course

The residential field course will run at the beginning of the academic year in Welcome Week. As well as providing you with an opportunity to get to know and work alongside your peers, you will have the opportunity to learn/refresh use of a wide range of ecological survey methods that are appropriate for different organisms and habitats.


You will carry out your research project independently, under the guidance of a supervisor, with results presented in a dissertation. A wide range of projects based at the University and with external partners will be available.

The programme places a strong emphasis on collecting, accessing, handling, analysing and visualisation of data. You will also receive training in how to tailor written and verbal communications for a diversity of audiences and purposes.

Teaching philosophy

Courses will emphasise the value of creativity and curiosity and identifying the limits of our knowledge and priorities for future work. There are many opportunities for discussion between students, and with staff and stakeholders embedded in the programme.

The programme has been designed with student experience in mind with courses capped at 30 to provide personalised feedback. Teaching will focus on skills, attributes, experiences and networks that benefit employability.

On completion of this programme, you will be able to:

  • explain how ecological and evolutionary processes can underpin biotic responses to anthropogenic change at a variety of spatial scales
  • identify the key steps and techniques involved with a major ecological project
  • design and implement an empirical or theoretical study to quantify impact of environmental change on any level of biodiversity
  • identify appropriate statistical approaches for analysing different types of data
  • apply and evaluate evidence quantitative methods for assessing evidence of evolutionary changed
  • account for the complexity and relationship of drivers and impacts in the face of sources of uncertainty
  • apply data-handling, statistical, modelling and visualisation approaches, including use of R software
  • communicate research outcomes to academic and non-academic stakeholders in written and oral presentations.
  • Work effectively across a diversity of group settings, taking on a range of roles.

The Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity MSc will provide you with the skills, knowledge and experience for careers in research, conservation, environmental consultancy, public relations, media, industry and policy.

Teaching is centred around examining a breadth of global anthropogenic stresses on organisms, and you will learn how to apply state-of-the-art quantitative methods, critique findings and communicate results to different audiences.

The MSc programme was developed in consultation with a broad range of potential employers and includes training in the key skills they identified as important. These include field skills, data-handling, visualisation and modelling in R, GIS, and project design and implementation.

Career Support

Our Careers Service will support you throughout your time studying with us and for 2 years after your course finishes. They can provide:

  • tailored advice
  • individual guidance and personal assistance
  • internship and networking opportunities (with employers from local organisations to top multinationals)
  • access to the experience of our worldwide alumni network

Studying at the University of Edinburgh will lay the foundations for your future success, whatever shape that takes.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in biological (including ecology and zoology) or biomedical sciences, medicine, agriculture, or environmental science.

We will also accept a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in geography, mathematics, statistics, or physics from applicants intending to transfer into the biological sciences.

We will also consider your application if you have less than the minimum qualification but can show sufficient relevant experience such as significant work history in a related discipline. Your application must show evidence of an interest in ecology and evolution alongside quantitative skills.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 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 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 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 five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:


If you receive an offer of admission, you will need to pay a deposit to secure your place.

  • £1,500 (this contributes towards your tuition fees)

Any applicants who are required to pay will receive an offer with full details.

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

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
  • your tuition fee status

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

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • 2105 JCMB
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications may close earlier than the published deadlines if there is exceptionally high demand.

We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline.

We aim to make the majority of decisions within eight weeks of the selection deadline.

If we have not made you an offer by a specific selection deadline this means one of two things:

  • your application has been unsuccessful, in which case we will contact you to let you know, or
  • your application is still being considered, and will be carried forward for consideration in the next selection deadline. We will be in touch once a decision is made

Selection Deadlines

Round Application Deadline Decisions made or applications rolled to next deadline
1 15 December 1 March
2 31 March 31 May
3 31 May 31 July

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

Further information

  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • 2105 JCMB
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh