MSc Wildlife Management and Conservation
Full-time 12 months
The MSc in Wildlife Management and Conservation is one of the longest running courses of its kind in the UK and was initiated in 1986. Over the decades, it has evolved into a truly vocational course which aims to achieve just one thing: to launch your career in the conservation sector.
Wildlife management and conservation is an exciting, fast-moving topic filled with dynamic and motivated people. Humans exert an enormous pressure on the environment, its wildlife and their habitats. Whilst many authorities appreciate that wildlife needs space and sensitive land management policies, financial constraints and obligations to ensure an economic return from land usage often results in the steady decline of species at local, national or even global levels. Furthermore, social and governmental pressures encourage the multiple usage of land for agro-forestry, ecotourism, sport, meat production and conservation. These diverse requirements can only be rationalised by an appreciation of the variety of disciplines associated with the management and conservation of wildlife. A solid understanding of the theoretical side of an issue must be coupled with equally important practical considerations. Armed with this knowledge, a wildlife manager will be aware of the dangers of a particular environmental development to the welfare of the spectrum of species in a community and be able to take appropriate action to alleviate or avert any undesirable outcomes. Never has there been a greater need for individuals to care about these issues and to be well trained in the management and conservation of wildlife.
The MSc course at Reading
The course is outward looking, focusing on the skills required by the employment sector and is supported by the RSPB, WWT, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Hawk Conservancy Trust, Marine Conservation Society and others. A large number of external speakers contribute to the course coupled with numerous trips to NGOs. Field work is hugely important but time and money is not wasted on credit hungry residential field courses, rather targeted field work is carried out on a weekly basis. Before you start on your project in April, you will have spent several hundred hours working in the field, which is essential to develop the practical skills that employers demand.
The course is intensive comprising 10 ten credit modules and one 20 credit module with associated continuous assessment. The taught component is given during the first two terms (October - March) of the academic year. Our modules have been designed and are run specifically for masters students and are not available to undergraduates. In January and April there are written examinations. Mid-April to August inclusive is devoted to a practical project which culminates in the production of a thesis. The examination papers and thesis are marked by both internal examiners and an external examiner. Successful candidates are awarded an MSc degree.
The Centre for Wildlife Assessment and Conservation
The Centre for Wildlife Assessment and Conservation (CWAC) is a facility that offers students the opportunity to explore the world of wildlife and its conservation. There are various web-based elements to CWAC, web pages, blog etc, but the main portal we use to bring issues to student attention and to access other parts of CWAC is a twitter site: @CWACReading. We are very happy for anybody to follow @CWACReading irrespective of whether they eventually come to Reading University or not. CWAC is about wildlife and this is not the jurisdiction of any one University. Through CWAC we will also showcase examples of conservation research carried out by Reading students. Another role that CWAC plays is to encourage students to learn how to identify species and to submit their records to the national database. The species identification and recording work is carried out in the CWAC laboratory; a lab dedicated to students research work.
The University of Reading
Reading University is situated within what is arguably the most beautiful campus, Whiteknights Park, in the UK. In fact, Whiteknights Park has just received a green flag award for the third year running. It was voted the sixth best urban green space in the whole of the UK (http://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/releases/PR540077.aspx). Most of the 300 acre campus consists of three lakes, meadows maintained specifically for biodiversity, and a large area of woodland (The Wilderness). We are lucky to have a great deal of plant, animal and habitat diversity on our main campus. We report this diversity on the staff and student authored Whiteknights Biodiversity Blog .
There are numerous modern Halls of Residence and all MSc students are eligible for this type of accommodation if they so desire (although it is recommended that self-catering halls are targeted to retain flexibility). A number of nature reserves and government and industrial bodies with interests relevant to the course are close to Reading. In addition, the University owns extensive areas of farmland in the adjacent countryside. An area of approximately four hectares of the Whiteknights campus is managed by students on a voluntary basis for wildlife.