Postgraduate taught 

Quantitative Methods in Biodiversity, Conservation & Epidemiology MSc

Core and optional courses

Core and optional courses

Core Courses

Key Research Skills

Course Aims: The aims of this course are to ensure that all students enrolled in the MSc/PGdip programme in Biodiversity, Conservation and Animal Welfare 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.

Spatial Ecology and Biodiversity

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with evidence-based core training in the use of a wide range of sampling techniques currently available for invertebrate and vertebrate organisms in a terrestrial environment, as well as to explore techniques used for the quantification of biodiversity and the measurement of abundance.

Programming in R (prerequisite for all modelling and epidemiology)

Course Aims: 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.

Research Project

Course Aims: The aim of this course is to have students undertake a quantitatively oriented independent research project, in which they will use the knowledge gained in the taught course components to design a feasible experiment, write a proposal, and implement, analyse and write up a discrete project.

Optional Courses

Modelling and Epidemiology

Infectious Disease Ecology & the Dynamics of Emerging Disease

Course Aims: 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

Introduction to Bayesian Statistics

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide the student with an evidence-based founding in the basic theory and practice of Bayesian statistics, using Markov Chain Monte Carlo approaches and Metropolis-Hastings and Gibbs sampling procedure.

Multi-species Models

Course Aims: This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of formulating multi-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.

Single-species Models

Course Aims: 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.

Biodiversity Measurement and Informatics

Molecular epidemiology and phylodynamics

Course Aims: This course will introduce students to current analytical methods for answering applied questions in evolution and epidemiology based on pathogen genetic data. Topics will include tree building, molecular clocks, inferring demographic histories using coalescent approaches, ancestral state reconstruction and phylogeography, focussing on the widely used software BEAST as well as other computer programs.

Conservation Genetics

Course Aims: To provide practical training in analytical skills and the theoretical basis for approaches used for quantifying biodiversity and population genetic structure. The focus will be on the analysis of DNA sequence and microsatellite genotype data, as applied to problems in the assessment of biodiversity and conservation. This course will involve a mixture of theory and computer-based analyses of molecular data commonly used in ecological and evolutionary studies.

Biodiversity informatics

Course Aims: 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

Course Aims: 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.

Invertebrate Identification

Course Aims: 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.

Animal Welfare Science, Ethics & Law

Animal Welfare Science (core for AWSEL; option for QMBCE)

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with an evidence-based critical and detailed understanding of welfare assessment methodologies and practical experience of how welfare issues are addressed at sites that keep animals for different forms of human use, including research on wild animals.

Assessment of Physiological State

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with an evidence-based understanding of methods and techniques used to assess physiological state of wild animals and provide them with the competence to identify the health state of wild animal and to respond appropriately to this.

Biology of Suffering

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with an advanced understanding of issues on consciousness, sentience and suffering in animals and how this relates to ethical and legal considerations.

Care of Captive Animals

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with a critical awareness of issues relating to care of captive animals and relate these to legislation and welfare science.

Enrichment of Animals in Captive Environments

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with the underlying principles that will guide enrichment and the design of enclosures and encourages students to creatively think about their own solution to welfare issues.

Legislation Related to Animal Welfare (core for AWSEL; option for QMBCE)

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with a rigorous evidence-based understanding of the different pieces of legislation underlying the use of animals in scientific research, in zoos and in farms.

Human Dimensions of Conservation 

Course Aims: The course explores human dimensions of conservation, including topics relating to biodiversity conservation and human development, sustainable use, wildlife trade, hunting, human-wildlife conflict and wildlife interventions.  These subjects will be considered from diverse ethical, ecological, socio-economic and political perspectives.

Principles of Conservation Ecology

Course Aims: The course explores the interaction between species and environment in protected African ecosystems. It will examine the ecological factors and processes that underpin the abundance and spatial distribution of populations, and the dynamics of their within and between species interactions. It will be familiarise students with the key conceptual and quantitative paradigms relevant to conservation ecology the practice of conservation management, and the study and monitoring of components of African ecosystems. It will focus particularly on how to study and quantify ecosystem stress, and how ecological dynamics respond to stress and environmental change in African settings.

Protected Area Management

Course Aims: This course will introduce students to key issues in the management of protected areas in Africa, including resource protection, ecological monitoring, fire management, tourism management and development, infrastructure management and community conservation. The course will draw on examples from savannah, forest, wetland and marine ecosystems in Africa and special emphasis will be placed on introducing students to practical aspects of protected area planning. Further topics will consider setting of conservation priorities, monitoring and evaluation of conservation actions, and conservation financing. 

GIS for Ecologists

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with training in the collection and analysis of ecological data using a geographic information system (GIS). The objective is to develop key skills in creating a GIS using existing data and collecting suitable field data for an ecological project.