MSc in Wild Animal Biology
Wild animal health has become of increasing interest to non-veterinarians with a first degree in zoology and biology. Recognising this, the Royal Veterinary College, together with the Institute of Zoology have developed a unique course, aimed at non-veterinary biological science graduates and leading to the MSc in Wild Animal Biology.
This course provides practical exposure to wild animal species and an understanding of their health and welfare in addition to training in research methodologies relevant to the study of wildlife.
Participants benefit from working and studying alongside veterinary graduates taking the MSc in Wild Animal Health as well as learning from internationally renowned experts in their field.
A graduate of the Certificate in Wild Animal Health/Biology must demonstrate:
- a conceptual understanding of population dynamics, threats to wildlife populations and how resources can be allocated for wildlife conservation.
- a critical understanding of epidemiology and the impact of disease on wild animal populations.
- the ability to evaluate interventions for the management of captive and free-living wild animals including their ethics.
- a systematic understanding of the biological principles underpinning wild animal management, and the husbandry, care and welfare of wild animals.
A graduate of the Diploma in Wild Animal Health/Biology must demonstrate (in addition to the achievements of the PG Certificate):
- a critical awareness of methods to detect disease, disease surveillance systems and the effects of emerging diseases on captive and free living wild animal health.
- conceptual and practical understanding of the diagnosis, management (WAB), investigation (pathology), treatment (WAH only) and control of disease in captive and free-living wild animal populations.
- a comprehensive insight into the interdependence of human, domestic animal and ecosystem health.
- a creative approach to the evaluation of the health, welfare and reproduction of captive and free-living wild animals.
A graduate of the Master of Science in Wild Animal Health/Biology must demonstrate (in addition to the achievements of the PG Certificate and Diploma):
- a comprehensive understanding of research and inquiry including (i) critical appraisal of the literature, (ii) scientific writing and (iii) scientific presentation.
- the ability to design and analyse hypothesis-driven laboratory and/or field studies.
Applicants must have (or expect to receive) a university first or second class honours degree.
Applications are encouraged from candidates with degrees in Biology, Zoology, Animal Biology and the veterinary sciences.
We are particularly keen to see evidence of relevant work experience in a zoo, wild animal hospital or in wild animal research.
Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of proficiency in spoken and written English, including scientific usage and comprehension. They will be required to achieve an overall score of 7.0 in IELTS with a minimum of 6.5 in each sub-test; or a TOEFL score of at least 93 (internet-based test with no element below 23), or 580 (paper-based test plus 4.5 in the Test of Written English (TWE)/Essay rating).
This specialist Masters course is completed over one year full-time study, commencing in Autumn 2011. Certificate and Diploma levels are available. Please see Programme Structure below for more information
The course provides participants with:
- a critical awareness of current problems in wildlife disease with implications for wildlife conservation and welfare, and a new insight into interventions for the management of captive and free-living wild animals, through gaining a systematic understanding of the biological principles underpinning wild animal conservation and management, and the epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment of wildlife disease;
- basic competence in management and pathological techniques in wild animals; and
- a conceptual and practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create knowledge in the field of wild animal health, and a comprehensive understanding of scientific skills, including critical review of the scientific literature, and design and analysis of laboratory or field studies.
The course is delivered through two terms of lectures, seminars, tutorials and problem-based learning, with modular examinations, followed by a research project over the summer months, prior to final assessment.
Teaching covers taxa e.g. mammals, reptiles, birds and the disciplines that influence these taxa, such as epidemiology, infectious diseases, conservation and management.
The MSc in Wild Animal Biology consists of 3 levels:
- Postgraduate Certificate
- Postgraduate Diploma and the
- Master of Science Degree.
These levels start in September each year – to confirm the exact date please email email@example.com.
Certificate in Wild Animal Biology
Students are introduced to the Course objectives, the mission of the partner organizations running the Course and the services you can receive at the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Veterinary College.
Conservation Biology Module
In this module we develop a conceptual understanding of which species and populations are vulnerable to extinction, how we can monitor their population dynamics and how resources to conserve species can be most successfully allocated using a scientific approach.
The Impact of Disease on Populations
The effects of diseases on populations can be complex but even subtle influences can markedly unbalance free-living and captive populations of wild animals. An understanding of these effects requires a critical evaluation of epidemiology and the population biology of infectious agents, and armed with this knowledge we can make informed decisions on control methods, where these are considered an ethical approach.
Health and welfare of captive wild animals
Considering the enormous diversity of animal species, the management of healthy populations in captivity is an exacting challenge. In this module we gain a critical understanding of the principles of animal management and preventive medical approaches to maintain healthy populations and enhance their welfare.
Where anthropogenic threats endanger free-living populations of animals, people increasingly see a need to intervene for the conservation or welfare of these populations. However, given the need to understand complex ecological systems, the disease risks of manipulating them and the potential stress of intervention methods, such activities require detailed planning, highly skilled input and scientific evaluation to ensure lessons are learned. Using real examples this module develops a conceptual understanding of intervention methodology.
Diploma in Wild Animal Biology
Detection, surveillance and emerging diseases
Morbidity and mortality in free-living populations of wild animals are difficult to detect and monitor given ecosystem processes and the bias of convenience sampling strategies. Complex methods are required to detect and monitor changes in endemic diseases and to detect emergent diseases, and interpret the findings in a scientific manner.
Ecosystem Health Module
The strong interdependence between the health of people, their domestic animals and free-living wildlife (the one-health concept) is a rapidly advancing field of scientific inquiry as illustrated by studies on globally emergent zoonoses and the health of ocean fauna, and we develop our understanding through these examples and how they have developed policy changes.
Evaluation of the health and welfare of captive wild animals
In the Certificate we gained a critical understanding of the management and preventive medical care required to maintain healthy populations. In this Module we investigate the scientific evaluation of wild animal welfare and critically analyse the relationship between health and firstly reproduction, and secondly, nutrition.
Our ability to effectively maintain healthy captive populations of wild animals, and monitor and intervene in the health of free-living populations requires a complex set of skills covered in detail in this Module, where we will gain a conceptual and practical understanding of critical aspects of pharmacology and anaesthesia, pathology, dentistry, and surgery and imaging in wild animals.
Master of Science in Wild Animal Biology
A graduate of the Master of Science in Wild Animal Biology must demonstrate (in addition to the achievements of the PG Certificate and Diploma):
- A comprehensive understanding of research and inquiry including (i) critical appraisal of the literature, (ii) scientific writing and (iii) scientific presentation.
- The ability to design and analyse hypothesis-driven laboratory and/or field studies.
- Research Planning *
In this module we will develop the extensive skills required to design and conduct practical research projects, critically appraise and review the literature, deliver effective scientific presentations, and write scientific papers suitable for submission to peer-reviewed journals.
Each MSc student will be required to undertake an individual research project, between June and the end of August, and to submit a typewritten report not exceeding 10,000 words in the form of a grant application and a scientific paper suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. The project will encompass a practical study on an approved aspect of wild animal biology. The project may be undertaken at any place approved by the Institute/College with the guidance of a course supervisor.
The course is assessed by four written papers, course work (assignments, case reports), an individual research project report and an oral examination, irrespective of students’ performance in other parts of the course. Project reports are submitted by the end of August and oral examinations are held in mid-September.
Duration of Course Study
Full-time for one year, with exit points at Certificate and Diploma.
Graduates of the MSc Wild Animal Biology are now working in in-situ wildlife conservation projects, in wild animal research for example studying for a PhD, in captive wild animal management such as in zoological collections, in wild animal welfare for example working for international welfare charities, in teaching and for government animal health and management departments.
- Dr Tony Sainsbury, Institute of Zoology
- Michael Waters, Royal Veterinary College
For a prospectus please see the Royal Veterinary College website .
The Graduate School
The Royal Veterinary College
Royal College Street
London NW1 0TU
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel : +44 (0) 20 7468 5134
Fax : +44 (0) 20 7468 5060