UWE Bristol and Bristol Zoo link-up to create new MSc course in advanced wildlife conservation

Students will interact with experts engaged in ground-breaking conservation projects from across the globe, says UWE

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The University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol has teamed-up with the city’s Zoological Society (BZS) to create a new MSc in advanced wildlife conservation.

Students will be based at Bristol Zoo where they will gain hands-on experience with international conservation experts in new state-of-the-art facilities and will get the opportunity to become immersed in a major conservation organisation.

Students will also interact with experts engaged in ground-breaking conservation projects from across the globe and meet with a wide range of practising conservationists and ecologists.

The course will also link up with BZS’s sister attraction ‘Wild Place Project’ which emphasises the protection of threatened habitats in the UK as well as globally.

Dr Mark Steer – a senior lecturer in conservation biology with extensive experience of conservation projects in the UK and the tropics – has led the development of the course along with the Head of Conservation Science at Bristol Zoological Society, Dr Grainne McCabe, who is currently leading a project based in Tanzania focused on the conservation of endangered Sanje mangabey monkeys.

The course will include the development of key skills including species identification and habitat surveying.

In addition, there is big a focus on emerging sectors which could become vital to practising conservationists including contemporary skills such as genetic survey techniques and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Dr Steer believes the MSc will appeal to biological, environmental and conservation science graduates as well as people already working in the environmental sector who want to ‘upskill’.

He said that the public engagement element is “very exciting” and added: “We know that many people are fascinated by the world we live in and technology enables a wide participation in conservation research projects.”

Dr McCabe insists the course is not focused on “turning out pure academics” and added: “The primary objective for this course is to equip students with a range of useful skills that they will have learned through ‘hands-on’ relevant activities that will enable them to become practitioners in conservation projects.”

After its launch in January 2016, the course will be timed to enable summer working at the zoo.