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Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

MSc ( 1 year Full-time / 2 years Part-time )

Overview

Our MSc in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology will give you a scientific understanding of global ecological and evolutionary change, and provide you with the contemporary skills, tools and experience for tackling pressing environmental questions.

This programme will focus on concepts and theory essential to understanding global ecological and evolutionary change, including: state of the art techniques for environmental process research, invasive species ecology and conservation genetics. You will learn how to convert science to policy or management, and how to consult with stakeholders.

Students will spend time shadowing our multidisciplinary research teams before conducting a substantive six-month research project. These projects may be jointly supervised by colleagues at related institutes or within industry. You will also have the opportunity to take part in a field course in Borneo - see photos from this year's trip on Flickr. We will equip science graduates with the essential skills to proceed to further research via PhD or careers in consultancy and industry.

Students will have access to ‘state of the art’ analytical research facilities at the Freshwater Biological Association's River Laboratory on the River Frome in Dorset, through our River Communities Research Group. In Dorset students learn how to convert science to policy with our River Communities Group. We also offer field courses in Asia for firsthand experience of theory in action.

Students on a trip to the Freshwater Biological Association:

Programme highlights: 

  1. In December 2014 the Research Excellence Framework (REF) demonstrated that 80% of our Biology outputs were ranked as either 4-star (world-leading) or 3-star (internationally excellent) for impact, meaning that our work makes a demonstrable contribution to either society or the economy. You can find out more about the projects included in the 2014 REF on our submission highlights page.
  2. Our Evolution & Genetics research group has one of the highest concentrations of evolutionary genomics researchers in the UK. You can find out more about our research interests on the group page or watch one of our members Dr Elizabeth Clare discuss her work on bats and food webs on YouTube.
  3. By choosing to study at a Russell Group university you will have access to excellent teaching and top class research
  4. You can attend scientific events and seminar series across London.
  5. Opportunities for projects in the UK and overseas, and in conjunction with collaborators at the Institute of Zoology, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the Natural History Museum.

Informal enquiries 

If you have questions about this programme which you would like to put to Dr Axel Rossberg, MSc Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Programme Director, please contact:

Tel: +44(0)207 882 8441
Email: a.rossberg@qmul.ac.uk

 

Structure

This MSc programme combines taught modules with individual and collaborative research projects. You will apply the knowledge and techniques from your taught modules in a practical setting and may be able to publish your project findings.

If you have any questions about the programme content or structure, contact Dr Axel Rossberg

Taught modules

  • Ecological Theory and Applications: In this module we look at the theory behind our understanding of ecological systems and how that theory can be applied to ecological problems in the real world. Starting with populations of a single species we will progress to understanding twospecies interactions including predation, competition and parasitism and then to whole communities of interacting organisms. We will then study how ecological theory, used in concert with population genetics and evolutionary theory, can be applied to understanding ecological issues such as the conservation of small populations, harvesting natural populations and predicting responses to environmental change.
  • Ecosystem Structure and Function: Ecosystems are under continued and growing threat from human activity (e.g. habitat loss, invasive species and diffuse pollution) and if we seek to preserve them then we need to understand how ecosystems function and how they respond to either enforced or natural change. Here we focus on the structural and functional elements of many ecosystems, from shallow lakes to tropical forests, with a particular focus on contrasting aquatic environments.
  • Statistics and Bioinformatics: Covers core statistics methods, within the R statistical computing environment. R has become the de facto environment for downstream data analysis and visualisation in biology, thanks to the hundreds of freely available R packages that allow biological data analysis solutions to be created quickly and reliably.
  • Research Frontiers in Evolutionary Biology: This module will explore the frontiers of research in evolutionary biology. Topics covered will include: incongruence in phylogenetic trees, neutral versus selective forces in evolution, the origin of angiosperms, the origin of new genes, the evolution of sociality, the significance of whole genome duplication and hybridisation. Current methods being used to tackle these areas will be taught, with an emphasis on DNA sequence analysis and bioinformatics.
  • Tropical field course - see photos from this year's trip on Flickr. Topics will encompass aspects of taxonomy, ecology, biogeography, conservation and evolution. Specific areas of content will include ecological processes in tropical rainforests (decomposition, pollination and seed dispersal); rainforest structure and defining characteristics (including the importance of rainforests as centres of biodiversity) and anthropogenic factors affecting rainforests (including disturbance, forest fragmentation and agriculture). There will be strong emphasis on practical training. In particular, students will be trained in a range of survey methods covering diverse terrestrial and aquatic taxonomic groups. The module will also provide training in data collection, analysis and presentation.
  • Science, Policy and Management: Here a broad spectrum of human environmental impacts and their mitigation will be explored. The first half of the module will bring the student ‘face to face’ with potential regulators, practitioners and potential employers (typically Defra, EA, Natural England) through a series of guest lectures. These topics are then explored and summarised through an unpacking and feedback workshop. The second half is field based with current practitioners working directly in the field of bioassessment and biomonitoring. National and international legislation and directives are introduced through a series of ‘Case Studies’ to look at the link between successful science and policy.

Research module

  • Research project (90 credits)

Student handbook

Find out more about this programme in our Ecology and Evolutionary Biology student handbook.

Part-time study

Students taking the MSc over two years via the part-time option should aim to register for 50% of the taught modules per year. You can discuss the exact combination of modules with Dr Axel Rossberg

Projects can be undertaken over the two-year period also, provided a schedule of work can be agreed upon which equates to the same time requirements as the full-time option.

You may also enrol for a Postgraduate Certificate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (60 credits) which will comprise four of the taught modules that contribute towards the MSc.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class BSc (Hons) degree (or equivalent international qualification) in a relevant subject, such as ecology, environmental science, biology or zoology.  Applicants with a good lower second class degree may be considered on an individual basis, taking into account relevant background and related achievements.

This programme includes one compulsory overseas field course to Borneo, during which students should expect to have to undertake physically-demanding work in remote locations. Applicants for the programme from outside the UK should ensure that there are no residency or travel restrictions that would prevent them from attending this course. Applicants with any disability that impacts upon their ability to undertake such activities should seek advice from the School before applying for this programme.

Costs for flights, accommodation and meals are fully covered by the tuition fees - you will not have to contribute additional funds towards this field trip.

English language requirements

All international students are required to provide evidence of their ability in English language.

The minimum level required for entry to our postgraduate programmes is:

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) - 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 in writing)
  • WELT (Warwick English Language Test) – BBC/BCC
  • TEEP (Test of English for Educational Purposes) – 6.5
  • Cambridge ESOL Certificate in Advanced English – B
  • Cambridge ESOL Certificate of Proficiency in English – C

For further information about our English language requirements please visit the QMUL international pages.

Am I eligible?

To check your eligibility contact our Postgraduate Admissions team:

Email: sbcs-pgadmissions@qmul.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 3328

Learning and teaching

As a student at Queen Mary, you will play an active part in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. Teaching is by a mixture of formal lectures and small group seminars. The seminars are designed to generate informed discussion around set topics, and may involve student presentations, group exercise and role-play as well as open discussion. We take pride in the close and friendly working relationship we have with our students.

Independent Study

For every hour spent in classes you will be expected to complete further hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; completing projects; and revising for examinations.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.

Assessment

Students are assessed by a combination of coursework and exams. A few modules are assessed by coursework only. If a module is assessed by means of coursework alone, this is usually in the form of a research project or dissertation, and the tutor project supervisor offers guidance and support in the researching and writing of this piece of assessment.

Dissertation

You will also be assessed on a supervised 10,000-word dissertation.

Fees

Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2017 entry
Full time £9,700

Tuition fees for International students

2017 entry
Full time £18,450

Funding

There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships

We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.

Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.

Alternative sources of funding

Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.

Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.

Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide [PDF] for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.

Read more about alternative sources of funding for Home/EU students and for Overseas students.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079
email bursaries@qmul.ac.uk

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717

Graduate employment

Our postgraduates students go on to work in a wide variety of careers. Some apply their degree knowledge directly, working as conservation officers or research assistants. We have developed modules accommodating pure research and applied practical skills developed to promote graduate employability. The transferable skills gained through this enable graduates to work in areas beyond those directly related to their degree. These include government, education and retail. Other graduates pursue their subject interest by undertaking a PhD.

Career support

Throughout the course, postgraduates have access to a careers programme to prepare them for applying for work after graduation. This programme includes workshops on job hunting and job applications as well as employer events to facilitate networks and help students to explore their options. Recent career events open to the School’s postgraduates include the SBCS Industrial Liaison Forum featuring small and medium sized employers, and workshops on applying for and doing a PhD.

Queen Mary’s location between Canary Wharf, the City and the Olympic Village redevelopment means that there are substantial opportunities for on campus and local part time work and work experience. On campus there are 1200 job and volunteer opportunities ranging from E-learning Assistant to Website Administrator and from Society President to Student Mentor. QTemps job agency offers work suitable for current students and recent graduates, QMSU Volunteering facilitates volunteering and QM JobOnline hosts over 800 part time and full time job vacancies.

Read more about our careers programmes and range of work experience opportunities on the QM Careers pages.

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