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Wild Animal Biology

MSc | Diploma | Certificate

Programme Structure

The MSc in Wild Animal Biology consists of 3 levels:

- Postgraduate Certificate

- Postgraduate Diploma and the

- Master of Science Degree .

These levels start at the same time, towards the end of September each year and broadly speaking can be broken down into three terms. The Certificate consists of term 1 (September to December), the diploma goes on to include term 2 (January to May) and the MSc also includes the research project which is undertaken during the summer months, finishing in mid-September.

These levels are not available as part-time or distance learning courses.

Certificate in Wild Animal Biology

Introductory week

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.

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 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.

Practical Module

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.

Project

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.

Assessment

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.

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