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:

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Academic qualifications

Applicants must have (or expect to receive) a UK university first or second class Honours degree or international equivalent in a Science-based subject. 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 Admissions if you are unsure whether your degree is equivalent.

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.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme applicants

 If you intend to apply for the course under the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme, please note you will need to apply to both the CSC and RVC directly. Please ensure you are eligible before submitting an application: you will need to make clear in the Funding section of your RVC application that you are a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme applicant. Applications for 2023 Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are open and will close on 13th December 2022.

Priority applicants NB: Applicants who have met the English language requirements for the course (and uploaded/sent us their results) by 4th March 2023, as well as those from the countries listed below, will be prioritised for consideration. We have listed the equivalent qualification to a UK Bachelor Honours degree for each country, which will be needed to meet our entry requirements. Where a qualification is not listed there is not an equivalent qualification from this country which would meet our current requirements, but qualifications studied elsewhere which are equivalent to a UK Bachelor Honours degree would be accepted. Note: only those who have submitted applications to both the RVC and the CSC by the deadlines above will be shortlisted. 

  • Eswatini – Master’s degree
  • Kiribati 
  • Lesotho – Master’s degree
  • Malawi – Master’s degree
  • Mozambique – Grau de Mestre (Master’s)
  • Papua New Guinea – Bachelor(hons) degree
  • Rwanda – Diplome de Docteur en Medecine/Bachelor(hons) degree
  • Solomon Islands – Bachelor degree from University of the South Pacific
  • Tanzania – Bachelor degree/Doctor of Medicine/Veterinary Medicine
  • Gambia – Master’s degree
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu – Bachelor degree from University of the South Pacific  

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.

Our graduates go on to enjoy a wide range of careers positions in veterinary medicine, including:

  • Camera Trapping Intern
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Ecosystem Assessment Programme Intern
  • Pathology Technician Research Assistant
  • Wildlife Trust Volunteer
  • Reserve Trainee Warden
  • Zoo Keeper
  • PhD
  • Graduate Ecologist

They also go on to work for a variety of different employers, for example:

  • ALcontrol Laboratories
  • Institute of Zoology
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
  • Save the Rhino
  • The Ecology Consultancy
  • Sea Watch Foundation
  • The International Society for Ecology & Culture
  • United Nations (UN)
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
  • Eloise Stephenson
    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.

  • Graham Duggan 
    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.

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

Key academic staff

  • Dr Maria Diez Leon (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 2023/24 are as follows:

Home Tuition Fees including Island Fees (Channel Islands & Isle of Man)

International Fees


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

The Royal Veterinary College is offering a postgraduate tuition fee discount to Alumni who are self-financing their postgraduate study and meet the eligibility criteria.

The value of the discount is 20% for all Alumni.

Bursary for Postgraduate Taught Courses

RVC bursary for outstanding home and international students undertaking a Masters in 2023/24.   

The RVC postgraduate bursary will be offering a discretionary amount, typically of £5,000 upwards per recipient, to select outstanding home and international students undertaking a Masters in 2023/24. These will be allocated on a highly competitive basis to students applying for a full-time place.

Bursaries will be allocated in or by July 2023 at the discretion of the Scholarship Allocation Board. All students who have applied by the course deadline or 5 June 2023 (whichever is soonest) and have been offered a full-time place will be considered. Priority will be given to those who have met the English language requirements, or shown evidence of their exam booking, by 5 June 2023.

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.

Applications for Commonwealth Master’s Scholarships for the academic year 2023/24 are now closed

Applicants can expect to hear the outcome of their applications by June 2023.

Commonwealth Master’s Scholarships are for candidates from low and middle income Commonwealth countries, to undertake full-time taught Master’s study at a UK university.

For full details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit: https://cscuk.fcdo.gov.uk/scholarships/commonwealth-masters-scholarships/

Fulbright scholarship

Other Sources of Financial Information for Postgraduate Taught Courses

Other sources of financial information for postgraduate taught courses:

  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.

Postgraduate Master's Loan

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

Russell E. Train Fellowship Grant

The 2023 Russell E. Train Fellowship Application deadline for submission was 15th February 2023.

Study a Master's in Europe Scholarship

Study abroad scholarship worth €5000. This scholarship is open to students from any country who are planning to study a Master's degree at a European university in the autumn 2024.

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