What is the RVC/ZSL MSc 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 wild animal health, welfare and conservation, 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 MSc in Wild Animal Biology is completed over one year of full-time study.

The course starts in mid-September each year, and can be broken down broadly into three sections, comprising two groups of taught modules and a research project. The first section is completed by mid-January, the second by mid-May, and the MSc research project is undertaken during the summer months, finishing in mid-September. More detailed information can be found in the course outline (see link in the top left of the page). 

We deliver the programme through two terms of lectures, seminars, tutorials and problem-based learning, with modular examinations. There are no part-time or distance-learning options available.

To enquire about the exact start date please email admissions@rvc.ac.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 MSc in Wild Animal Biology, you will have gained the analytical skills, understanding, confidence and the language to progress your career within a wide range of organisations, such as zoos, national parks, universities, conservation organisations 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 UK university first or second class honours degree or international equivalent. Preference is given to candidates with (or on track to achieve) first or upper second class honours, but applications are encouraged from candidates with lower second class honours and relevant experience.

Applicants who meet the academic criteria will be assessed based on their personal statement. Personal statements are assessed on commitment to work in research and conservation of captive and free-living animals and make a difference in global conservation outcomes through sustaining healthy captive and free-living wild animal populations. Evidence of an applicant’s commitment will be assessed on, but not restricted to, work experience (including voluntary), leadership roles, research, courses attended, internships, conferences and memberships.

Please contact our Admissions Office if you are unsure whether your degree is equivalent to a UK first or second class honours degree.

English language requirements

A good working knowledge of scientific English is essential in order to follow the course. All applicants must have an acceptable English Language qualification:

  • IELTS (Academic) score of 7.0 or above with minimum 6.5 in each component

For those without IELTS, please see our English Language Requirements page for a full list of qualifications we will accept as alternatives.

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

For example, Eloise Stephenson, 2014 MSc Wild Animal Biology graduate, is currently employed as a Research Technician for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia's national science agency. See her full testimonial below:

Eloise Stephenson

Graham Duggan, another one of our graduates from 2014, is now working as a researcher for a 5-part natural history documentary series about Canadian wildlife. You can read about his experience below: 

Graham Duggan 

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

Key academic staff

Stuart Patterson (RVC)
RVC-based course director for this MSc course.

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.

Tuition Fees

The tuition fees for students commencing the course in 2019/20 are as follows:

Wild Animal Biology UK/EU International

Island Fees (Channel

Islands & Isle of Man

MSc £12,420 £24,570 £24,570

Tuition fee amounts are subject to increase each academic year, please be aware of this when making your calculations and planning how much money you will require.

Funding Options

Alumni Fee Discount

Bursary for Postgraduate Taught Courses

RVC bursary for outstanding home and international students undertaking a Masters in 2019/20.   

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.

Commonwealth Master’s Scholarships

This scholarship is only available to students from Member countries of the Commonwealth.

Fulbright scholarship

Other Sources of Financial Information for Postgraduate Taught Courses

Postgraduate Master's Loan 2019/20

Postgraduate Master's Loan is funding to help with course and living costs whilst studying a postgraduate Master’s level course. The loan is seen as a contribution to the costs of postgraduate study, and is paid directly to the students, so you can spend it as you wish – tuition fees, accommodation, course books, and living expenses.

Further Information

Professional and Career Development Loans

We are a Professional and Career Development Loans registered Learning Provider, registration number PCDL02902.

A Professional and Career Development Loan is a commercial bank loan that you can use to help pay for work-related learning.

Russell E. Train Fellowship Grant

The 2019 Russell E. Train Fellowship Application is now open. Deadline for submission is 1st March 2019.

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