What is the RVC/ZSL Masters in Wild Animal Biology?

Wild animal health has become increasingly popular among non-veterinarians with a first degree in zoology and biology. Recognising this, the RVC, University of London, together with the Zoological Society of London, has developed a unique course aimed at non-veterinary biological science graduates and leading to the MSc in Wild Animal Biology.

The course will provide you with practical exposure to wild animal species and an understanding of their health and welfare, as well as providing training in research methods relevant to the study of wildlife.

You will 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.

Programme delivery

The programme is completed over one year full-time study and consists of three levels:

  • Postgraduate Certificate
  • Postgraduate Diploma
  • MSc

All three levels start at the same time, towards the end of September each year, and can be broken down broadly into three terms. The Certificate is completed by mid-January, the Diploma by mid-May, and the MSc also includes a research project, which is undertaken during the summer months, finishing in mid-September. 

We deliver the course through two terms of lectures, seminars, tutorials and problem-based learning, with modular examinations. None of the levels are available as part-time or distance-learning courses.

To confirm the exact start date please email: admissions@rvc.uk.

What will I learn?

During the programme you will acquire:      

  • A critical awareness of current problems in wildlife disease with implications for wildlife conservation and welfare·      
  • A new insight into veterinary interventions for the management of captive and free-living wild animals·      
  • A systematic understanding of the biological principles underpinning wild animal conservation and management, and the epidemiology, diagnosis and control of wildlife disease·      
  • Basic competence in veterinary techniques and preventative medicine for wild animals·      
  • 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·      
  • A comprehensive understanding of scientific skills, including critical review of the scientific literature, and design and analysis of laboratory or field studies.

Upon completion of the course, you will have gained the analytical skills, the understanding, the confidence and the language to progress your career within a wide range of organisations, such as zoos, national parks, universities and government departments worldwide.

Useful links

Here are some other useful and interesting veterinary and wildlife-related web sites:



Academic qualifications

Applicants must have (or expect to receive) a university first or second class honours degree in Biology, Zoology, Animal Biology or 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.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you will need to provide evidence of proficiency in spoken and written English, including scientific usage and comprehension. You will be required to achieve an overall score of 7.0 in IELTS (Academic)  with a minimum of 6.5 in each sub-test. 

See English Language Proficiency in our Guidelines on Applying.

What will I be able to do with my qualification?

Graduates of the MSc in Wild Animal Biology have gone on to pursue successful careers in wildlife management (with government agencies in both developing and developed countries), wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife-related research (at universities and zoological collections) and zoo management.

Some graduates continue to study towards a PhD with either the ZSL or RVC, or with other leading scientific research institutes.

See the ZSL website for detailed career profiles of some recent graduates.

Key academic staff

Mike Waters (RVC)
Mike Waters is a lecturer in Exotic, Zoo and Wildlife Pathology and is the RVC-based course director for this MSc course. He graduated from Sydney University and holds an MSc in Wild Animal Health from the Royal Veterinary College.

Dr Tony Sainsbury (IoZ)
Tony Sainsbury is the course director based at the Institute of Zoology. He is a Senior Lecturer in Wild Animal Health. Tony’s interests lie in the epidemiology of infectious diseases and the surveillance of diseases in wild animal populations. He is a European Recognised Specialist in Zoological Medicine (Wildlife Population Health).

Professor Mark Fox (RVC)
Mark Fox qualified as a vet at the Royal Veterinary College in 1977 and, after a period in small animal practice, returned to study for a PhD in veterinary parasitology. He then went on to set up the MSc courses in Wild Animal Health (1994) and Wild Animal Biology (2003) with the Institute of Zoology (ZSL).

Professor Andrew Cunningham (IoZ)
Andrew Cunningham joined the Institute of Zoology in 1988 as Veterinary Pathologist for the ZSL. In 2001 he became head of Wildlife Epidemiology at the IoZ.


The tuition fees for students commencing the course in 2015/16 are as follows:

Wild Animal Biology — MSc UK/EU £10,830 Overseas £21,420
Wild Animal Biology — Postgraduate Diploma UK/EU £7,320 Overseas £14,380
Wild Animal Biology — Postgraduate Certificate UK/EU £3,710 Overseas £7,240

If you would like to know the fees for part-time study, please contact the Graduate School on admissions@rvc.ac.uk.


Russell E. Train Fellowship

The 2015 Russell E. Train Fellowship Application is now open. Deadline for submission: 28th February 2015  

Russell E. Train Fellowships support individuals pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in conservation. Each year, WWF supports committed conservationists from target countries to receive financial support for their studies and field research. Applicants can apply to attend any university around the world and must return to their home countries to work in conservation for at least two years after completing their degree. Applicants from select WWF-US priority countries must meet all of the eligibility criteria to be considered for a grant.  

Eligible countries: Bolivia, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador, Democratic Republic of Congo, Laos, Peru, Vietnam  

Please see our full guidelines as well as all the 2015 Fellowship Competitions.

Student Bursaries

The RVC will be offering bursaries of £2000-£4000 to contribute towards living expenses to outstanding home/EU and international students undertaking a Masters in 2014/15. These will be allocated on a highly competitive basis to students applying for a full-time place on a Masters course.

The deadline for consideration of this award is the 10th April 2014 and all students who have applied and been offered a full-time place by this deadline will be considered.

Professional and Career Development Loans

A Professional and Career Development Loan could help you pay for learning that enhances your job skills or career prospects. It’s a bank loan, so you’ll have to pay it back once you’ve left your course. However, you don’t pay interest for the period when you’re in learning.

To be eligible, you’ll need to be:

  • 18 or over
  • 'settled’ in the UK, and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least the three years prior to the start of your learning programme
  • intending to work in the UK, the EU or the EEA when the course finishes.

‘Settled’ means having either indefinite leave to enter or remain or having the right of abode in the UK.

Further details are available from DirectGov.

International Students

The following sources of information may also prove useful to international students:

  1. Contact your local ministry of education/education department. They may provide a scholarship scheme that supports study in the UK.
  2.  Visit the British Council. They will be able to advise you on British scholarship schemes and provide other information about studying in the UK.
  3. The UK government and other UK and EU organisations offer a number of scholarships to enable international students to study in the UK.

Please also see:

Some students will be eligible to apply for commonwealth shared scholarship schemes. To see if you are eligible please see the below link:

For further information about CSFP and DFID please see the following links:

Funding Options

Canadian Student Loans

The Royal Veterinary College is not involved in processing your application for a loan, however we can confirm your student status; please direct your queries to the Financialaidoffice@rvc.ac.uk

For an overview of the financial aid process for Canadian students, please visit the Campus Access website

Students should apply through their provincial student assistance office or website. When you apply for a loan, you are considered for funding by both the Provincial and Federal Government, meaning you only have to apply once for funding for the year. Federal loans are processed via the National Student Loans Service Centre and provincial loans through the provincial governments and student aid branches.

USA Student Loans

The RVC participates in the Direct Loan Program in which federal financial assistance is made available from the US Department of Education to US students studying at the RVC. The purpose of this page is to inform you about the process of applying for financial assistance.

The RVC College will originate Direct Stafford loans and Direct Graduate and Parent PLUS loans and full-time students from the USA who are attending at the RVC are normally eligible for funding. The RVC also participates in the VA Educational Benefits programme.

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