Ecology & Environmental Biology MRes

student deep sea diving

This Masters programme in Ecology and Environmental Biology is mainly intended to provide training for students who hope to enter a PhD programme in the areas of ecology and environmental biology, and who wish training in transferable skills and in ecological and environmental disciplines.

Key facts

Why this programme

  • This Ecology and Evnvironmental Biology degree programme draws on the research expertise of a large number of University staff and allows you the chance to obtain experience in a wide range of modern research techniques.
  • There is considerable expertise in this area of biology available at Glasgow, especially in ornithology, fish biology, aquatic ecosystems, and theoretical, physiological, molecular and evolutionary ecology.

Programme structure

The programme consists of a taught component, and two research projects in individual laboratories and/or field based.

The taught component consists of core research skills and specialist option in analytical and sampling techniques.

The main part of the degree, however, is devoted to experience of research techniques. You will carry out two 20-week research projects with individual placements chosen to reflect your interests and the skills you wish to acquire. After each project, you will write a scientific report.

Core and optional courses

Core Courses

Key Research Skills
The aims of this course are to ensure that all students receive advanced and evidence-based training in the key skills essential for any modern ecology/evolution-based research career and for the courses that they will take later in the programme.  This includes principles of Scientific Writing and Effective Communication in English, Introduction to the Programming Environment R, Advanced Statistics, and Experimental Design and Power Analysis.

Research Project (x 2)
The aim of this course is to have students undertake a quantitatively orientated independent research project, in which they will use the knowledge gained in the Key Research Skills course to design a feasible experiment, undertake data collection, analyse and write a report.

Optional Courses 

Programming in R (prerequisite for all modelling and epidemiology)
The aim of this course is to provide hands-on training in programming in the R environment, and teach students to use the data structures and libraries provided by the R project appropriately to solve problems. 

Infectious Disease Ecology & the Dynamics of Emerging Disease
The aim of this course is to equip students with the mathematical and programming skills and theoretical background to be able to create simple epidemiological models, to interpret.

Single-species Models
This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of single-species population models.  It will aim to introduce students to the different ways these models can be formulated in theory, and implemented in practice (this will be undertaken in the R programming environment).  Students will be asked to review a range of previous uses of these forms of models, and be asked to develop critical views of them.  Emphasis will be placed on identifying the key assumptions of these different models, and when different formulations are most appropriate.

Conservation Genetics & Phylodynamics
To provide students with the conceptual background and hands-on training required for analysing and interpreting genetic data to answer applied questions in ecology, conservation biology and epidemiology, through the use of relevant specialised computer software and critical evaluation of the scientific literature.

Freshwater Sampling Techniques
The aim of the course is to provide students with core hands-on training in the use of a wide range of sampling techniques currently available for invertebrate and vertebrate organisms in a freshwater environment.

Invertebrate Identification
The aim of this course is to provide students with in depth hands-on training to enable them to identify key vertebrate groups, using field guides, identification keys, and vocalizations, as required for assessment of biodiversity.

Molecular Analyses for DNA Barcoding and Biodiversity Measurement
To provide practical training in and the theoretical basis for basic molecular techniques used for identification and characterisation of biodiversity. Hands-on training will be integrated with the theoretical underpinning of the manipulation and analysis of DNA sequence and microsatellite genotype data, as applied to problems in the assessment of biodiversity.  This will include approaches to DNA barcoding for identification and population genetics analyses of population structure and genetic history. The goal will be for students to learn these analyses at a level sufficient to perform independent analysis of their own data.  The course will also highlight recent advances in sequencing technology and approaches to genotyping, along with the new challenges that this will bring for analytical approaches.

To provide evidence-based advanced practical training in using web services to aggregate and visualise biodiversity data, using an interactive and open-access based approach.

Vertebrate Identification
The aim of the course is to provide students with core evidence-based training in techniques for identifying key vertebrate groups, including bird songs and mammalian scats.

What our students say

Completing my MRes at the University of Glasgow was a wonderful experience and I recommend the program to students who wish to further their knowledge and research skills.  Numerous learning opportunities were provided across a broad range of subjects and support and guidance from supervisors was invaluable. Completion of two separate research projects allowed me to explore different interests and I was able to complete a research project in temperate and tropical climates. The experience gained throughout my MRes studies contributed to my success in obtaining a PhD scholarship and publishing my results in a peer-reviewed journal.

Lindsay Mickelson (Canada): 2008

The MRes course also gave me an opportunity to organise an expedition to to study coral reefs in Nabq, South Sinai, Egypt. The training in underwater visual census techniques and the use of multi-variate statistical packages that I acquired during the study have been essential for my current job with an NGO in India, characterising the grouper fishery of the Andaman Islands. I would highly recommend this course for students who are interested in studying multiple aspects of marine and freshwater ecology and developing their research skills.

Sahir Advani (India): 2011

The MRes made the crucial difference for me in gaining the skills and contacts necessary to progress on to a funded PhD.

Paul Jerem (UK): 2012



Academic staff

Adams, Prof Colin (Professor of Freshwater Ecology; ecological speciation; conservation biology of fishes)

Bailey, Dr David (Senior Lecturer; marine ecosystem conservation and physiology of marine fishes)

Biek, Dr Roman (Lecturer; virus phylodynamics; spatial genetics of hosts and pathogens; ecology and genetics of vector borne diseases in wildlife; conservation genetics)

Cleaveland, Prof Sarah (Professor of Comparative Epidemiology; wildlife disease ecology; one health approaches to understanding zoonotic diseases; role of human social interactions in disease transmission and control)

Elmer, Dr Kathryn (Lecturer; ecological speciation and adaptive radiations in fishes and amphibians; genomics of adaptation)

Ferguson, Dr Heather (Lecturer in Vector Biology; ecology of insect vectors involved in human and animal diseases; community and population ecology)

 Hampson, Dr Katie (Wellcome Trust Advanced Research Fellow; rabies transmission dynamics and control in human and animal populations; surveillance systems for monitoring rabies spread)

Haydon, Prof Daniel (Director of Institute; stability and complexity theory; community ecology; wildlife epidemiology; animal movement)

Helm, Dr Barbara (Lecturer; chronobiology of birds; environmental influences on circadian adaptation) 

Hopcraft, Dr Grant (LKAS Research Fellow; theoretical and empirical studies of animal movement and migration; ecophysiology of ungulates)

Johnson, Dr Paul (Research Fellow; population genetics; statistical genetics; pathogen genomics)

Killen, Dr Shaun (NERC Advanced Research Fellow; physiology and behavioural ecology of marine and freshwater fishes; ecological relevance of life-history tradeoffs)

Lindström, Dr Jan (Senior Lecturer; behavioural ecology; theoretical ecology; games theory)

Mable, Dr Barbara (Reader; evolutionary genetics of plants and animals; evolutionary dynamics of complex gene families; evolution of polyploidy; mating system evolution; conservation genetics)

Macleod, Dr Ross (Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Fellow; population dynamics and life history of birds in changing environments)

Matthiopoulos, Prof Jason (Professor of Spatial and Population Ecology; analysis of animal movement; marine population dynamics; mathematical modelling of population distributions, habitat choice and complex interactions)

McCafferty, Dr Dominic (Senior Lecturer; thermal biology)

Mckeegan, Dr Dorothy (Senior Lecturer; applied animal welfare)

Metcalfe, Prof Neil (Professor of Behavioural Ecology; life history strategies in birds and fishes;  ecophysiology; role of oxidative stress in mediating life history strategies; recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant in 2013)

Monaghan, Prof Pat (Appointed Regius Chair of Zoology in 2012; life history strategies in birds; longevity and adaptation in birds in changing environments; received ERC advanced research grant in 2011)

Nager, Dr Ruedi (Senior Lecturer; ecology and life history strategies of birds; reproductive biology of birds)

Page, Prof Roderic (Professor of Taxonomy; host-parasite co-evolution; systematics; phyloinformatics)

Parsons, Dr Kevin (Lecturer in Marine and Freshwater Biology; evolution and development; ecological speciation in fishes; ecological genomics)

Reeve, Dr Richard (Research Fellow; mathematical modelling; novel mathematical approaches to measuring biodiversity and assessing vaccination strategies in viruses)

Robinson, Dr Jane (Reader; reproductive physiology; endocrinology)

Selman, Prof Colin (Professor of Biogerontology; chronobiology of mammals; mechanisms underlying ageing in mammals)

Honorary Bean, Dr Colin (Honorary Researcher, SNH; conservation ecology)

Downie, Prof Roger (Retired Professor; amphibian conservation and ecology)

Hancock, Mr Geoff (Insect Curator, Hunterian Museum; insect taxonomy and systematics)

Putman, Prof Rory (Visiting Honorary Professor; Independent Deer Consultancy; ecological dynamics of ungulates)

Yeomans, Dr William (Honorary Lecturer; Clyde River Foundation; river ecosystem ecology and conservation)


Examples of Projects undertaken on the MRes programme

  • Habitat use by Red Sea reef fish
  • Immunisation of fish in aquaculture against infectious disease
  • Impacts of oil pollution around a single-point mooring in Oman
  • Homing behaviour of groupers in Nabq Protected Area, Egypt
  • Spring growth of diatoms under the ice in Svalbard
  • Ecology of basking sharks in the Clyde
  • Mercury dynamics in Mediterranean marine foodwebs
  • Shark distribution and abundance in the Red Sea  
  • Long-line bycatch mitigation in the Alaskan halibut fishery 
  • Evolutionary Biology and Systematics Cross-species utility of microsatellite markers in parasitic nematodes
  • Co-evolution between sucking lice and rodents
  • Racial distinctiveness of the subspecies of Starling in the Azores
  • Aquatic macrophytes as indicators of the ecological status of Scottish lochs
  • Co-evolution of albatrosses and their feather lice
  • Mercury in feathers of seabirds from South Georgia
  • Modelling thermoregulation in pupping seals
  • Morphological plasticity in the red mangrove in Grand Cayman
  • Interactions between yellow-legged gulls and roseate terns in the Azores
  • Male phenotype, antioxidants and fertility in the zebra finch
  • Great skua diets in Orkney and Shetland
  • Stable isotopes, contaminants and antioxidants in sequentially laid eggs
  • Porcupine feeding preferences in eastern Canada
  • Tree-frog ecology in Trinidad

Entry requirements

for entry in 2015

A second class Honours degree or equivalent (eg GPA of 3.0 or above) in a relevant subject. Professional experience may be taken into account.

In your application, please submit a statement (up to 200 words) outlining why you want to study this programme in particular and what you hope to get out of it.



International students with academic qualifications below those required should contact our partner institution, Glasgow International College, who offer a range of pre-Masters courses.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 20
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English):  176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • PTE Academic (Person Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the Language Centre Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:


What do I do if...

my language qualifications are below the requirements?

The University's Language Centre offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.

my language qualifications are not listed here?

Please contact the Recruitment and International Office:


For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office:

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2016-17


Home and EU
Full time fee£4633
Full time fee£12600


Home and EU
Full time fee£6950
Full time fee£18900

Fees are subject to change and for guidance only


The University requires a deposit to be paid by International (beyond the EU) applicants in receipt of an offer to this programme: please see: Deposits for entry in 2015/16

Funding opportunities

Career prospects

The programme will provide an excellent training for those who want to undertake a PhD programme and enter ecological management or conservation businesses. It should also serve as an excellent introduction to research in the UK for overseas students intending to proceed to a PhD in this country.

Some of the Institutions/Organisations our M.Res students went on to:

  • Bremen Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT)
  • Clyde River Foundation
  • Dakshin Foundation, India
  • Victoria University, Wellington (New Zealand)
  • University of Glasgow
  • Warwick University

Some of the more exotic locations for MRes projects in recent years have included southern Brazil, Trinidad, Tobago, Kuwait, Egypt, Svalbard (Norway), Canada, the Azores (Portugal), Oman, Cayman Islands, and The Philippines.

How to apply

We ask that you apply online for a postgraduate taught degree. Our system allows you to fill out the standard application form online and submit this to the University within 42 days of starting your application.

You need to read the guide to applying online before starting your application. It will ensure you are ready to proceed, as well as answer many common questions about the process.

Guide to applying online

Do I have to apply online for a postgraduate taught degree?

Yes. To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We are unable to accept your application by any other means than online.

Do I need to complete and submit the application in a single session?

No. You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process. You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload additional documents such as your final transcript or your language test.

What documents do I need to provide to make an application?

As well as completing your online application fully, it is essential that you submit the following documents:

  • A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s) (if you have already completed your degree)
  • A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
  • Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
  • Two supporting reference letters on headed paper
  • Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
  • Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)

If you do not have all of these documents at the time of submitting your application then it is still possible to make an application and provide any further documents at a later date, as long as you include a full current transcript (and an English translation if required) with your application. See the ‘Your References, Transcripts and English Qualification’ sections of our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

Yes, where possible, please upload the supporting documents with your application.

How do I provide my references?

You must either upload the required references to your online application or ask your referees to send the references to the University as we do not contact referees directly. There is two main ways that you can provide references: you can either upload references on headed paper when you are making an application using the Online Application (or through Applicant Self-Service after you have submitted your application) or you can ask your referee to email the reference directly to See the 'Your References, Transcripts and English Qualifications' section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

What if I am unable to submit all of my supporting documents online?

If you cannot upload an electronic copy of a document and need to send it in by post, please attach a cover sheet to it that includes your name, the programme you are applying for, and your application reference number.

You may send them to:

Recruitment & International Office
71 Southpark Avenue
G12 8QQ
Fax: +44 141 330 4045

Can I email my supporting documents?

No. We cannot accept email submissions of your supporting documents.

What entry requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

You should check that you have met (or are likely to have met prior to the start of the programme) the individual entry requirements for the degree programme you are applying for. This information can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab on each individual programme page, such as the one you are viewing now.

What English Language requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

If you are an international student, you should also check that you have met the English Language requirements specific to the programme you are applying for. These can also be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab for each specific programme.

Further Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on applying to a postgraduate taught programme.

Guidance notes for using the online application

These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately, they are also available within the help section of the online application form. If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.

  • Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
  • Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
  • Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
  • Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
  • Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
  • English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
  • Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
  • References: Please provide the names and contact details of two academic references. Where applicable one of these references may be from your current employer. References should be completed on letter headed paper and uploaded on to your application.

Standard application deadlines

  • International applications (non-EU): 22 July 2016 
  • UK and EU applications: 26 August 2016

Classes start September 2016 and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Apply now