Applied Ecology (Postgraduate Certificate / Postgraduate Diploma / MSc)

close-up of a moth

Study mode

Full-Time or Part-Time


Francis Close Hall, Cheltenham

This course has a highly practical emphasis involving hands-on exercises in field and laboratory settings. In the field, you will cover identification skills for a wide range of species, as well as industry-standard survey techniques such as phase 1 habitat surveying, habitat condition assessments, national vegetation classification and bird territory mapping. Laboratory sessions will include use of microscopes in taxonomy and analysis of environmental parameters such as water oxygen levels and soil nutrient status to enable better understanding of species–environment interactions.

There will be opportunities to work on projects with linked organisations, including wildlife trusts, nature reserve managers, charities and public authorities. There is also the option to take a residential field trip; this currently takes place on a wildlife reserve in South Africa. The course is underpinned by the applied research expertise of the teaching team, which includes optimising conservation of species, bird and mammal biology, insect behaviour and evolution, non-native species introductions, population and community ecology, and environmental biology. An additional theme of citizen science develops awareness of the role of public engagement in surveying and conserving species in the wider environment.

There is considerable optionality in the course, both in choice of modules and in assessment topics within modules, to allow students to tailor course content to their own interests and career aspirations.


  • Applied Conservation
  • Practical Ecological Methods
  • Field Ecology
  • Ecological Interactions
  • Citizen Science and Public Engagement
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Environmental Pollution and Remediation
  • Environmental Governance and Decision Making

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Study style

This course is block taught on two days per week (currently Thursday and Friday). There is a range of coursework with an emphasis on field and laboratory research and consultancy reports, often involving live project briefs from external partners. It is our expectation that assignments, and especially dissertation work, will have direct impact on the understanding and management of species and habitats. There are no written examinations.

Course modules

Take a look at the course content for full details of all the modules you'll study on this course.

Entry requirements

  • At least a 2.2 honours degree or equivalent
  • We particularly welcome applicants with qualifications or experience in areas such as biology, animal biology, ecology, zoology, geography or environmental sciences
  • Applicants with substantial relevant work experience may be considered without a degree qualification
  • EU and international students need IELTS 6.0 overall (no less than 5.5 in any band) or equivalent.


See the further details of tuition fees when studying a course at the University of Gloucestershire.


  • Field-based or research roles within ecological, environmental and conservation organisations
  • Ecological Consultancy
  • Careers in ecological communication, policy or education

Meet the Lecturer

Discover more about your course by visiting the university to speak with one of our lecturers. Learn about the modules, teaching style and the modes of assessment by speaking to our experts, and get a feel for the facilities you'll be using. Visit our Meet the Lecturer page to find out more and book your place.

bird being measured

Industry links and accreditation

Put your academic theory into practice by working on projects with linked organisations including the Royal Society of Biology, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, The Mammal Society, Natural England, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Birdlife International.

This programme is accredited by the Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences (CHES), the education committee of the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES). CHES is the collective voice of the environmental sciences academic community and serves to enhance the quality of environmental education worldwide. A programme accredited by CHES is assured to meet high standards, contain a strong component of practical, field and theoretical activities, and has excellent opportunities for training, work experience and links to the professional environmental sector. Students enrolled on CHES accredited programmes can apply for free Student Membership of the IES and for a fast-track route to membership once they graduate, starting you on a route towards becoming a Chartered Environmentalist or Chartered Scientist.

students looking at findings

Underpinned by applied research expertise

Benefit from the applied research expertise of our teaching team, including conservation of species in the wild and in captivity, biotic responses to climate change, avian and mammal biology, insect behaviour and evolution, non-native species introductions, population and community ecology, and environmental biology.

group trip

Amazing field trips, near and far

To help you build your experience you will be able to take part in field trips to locations such as nature reserves in the Severn Vale, Cotswolds, Forest of Dean and South Wales. There are also opportunities to undertake residential fieldwork at the Mankwe Wildlife Reserve in South Africa.

School of Natural and Social Sciences

Our School of Natural and Social Sciences provides the best possible student experience with cutting-edge technology and strong practical elements to each course. You will work closely with lecturers and other students in the seminar room, the laboratory and the field.

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Institute of Environmental Sciences