MSc in Wild Animal Biology - Programme Structure

The MSc in Wild Animal Biology is completed over one- year full-time study, commencing in the autumn. It is taught jointly by the RVC and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

  • Postgraduate Certificate
  • Postgraduate Diploma 
  • Master of Science Degree

Asiatic lion All three levels start at the same time, towards the end of September each year. The Certificate is taught between September and February, the Diploma between February and May) and the MSc also includes the research project which is undertaken during the summer months, May-August, finishing with a student conference and oral examination in mid-September. None of the levels are available as part-time or distance-learning courses. To confirm the exact start date please email admissions@rvc.uk

Certificate in Wild Animal Biology

  • Introductory week
    You will be introduced to the course objectives, the mission of the partner organisations running the course, and the services you can receive at the ZSL and the RVC.
  • Conservation Biology Module
    You will 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 allocated most successfully 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. Armed with this knowledge you will be equipped to 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, you will gain a critical understanding of the principles of animal management and preventive medical approaches to maintaining healthy populations and enhance their welfare.
     
  • Interventions Module
    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 will help you to develop a conceptual understanding of intervention methods.

Meerkats at ZSL London Zoo

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. In this module, you will learn about the complex methods required to detect and monitor changes in endemic diseases, detect emergent diseases, and interpret the findings in a scientific manner.
     
  • Ecosystem Health Module
    Ecosystem health is a rapidly advancing field of scientific inquiry, which will be studied in the context of the health and sustainable utilization of ocean and freshwater fauna.
     
  • Evaluation of the health and welfare of captive wild animals
    In the Certificate, you will have 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 of health with both reproduction and nutrition.
     
  • Practical Module
    This module covers the complex set of skills required to effectively maintain healthy captive populations of wild animals, and to monitor and intervene in the health of free-living populations. You will gain a conceptual and practical understanding of critical aspects of remote tracking, monitoring of free-living wild animals, pharmacology, anaesthesia, pathology, dentistry, 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

Pygmy hippo swimming in water

Research Planning

In this module, you 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. 

Project

You will be required to undertake an individual research project, between May and mid-August, and to submit a typewritten report not exceeding 10,000 words in the form of a grant report 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. 

Assessment

You will be assessed by seven written papers, coursework (scientific review, critical review, scientific presentation, scientific poster and a case report), an individual research project report and an oral examination. All candidates will undertake a full assessment irrespective of their performance in other parts of the course. Project reports are submitted in mid-August and oral examinations are held in mid-September.