Applied Conservation Genetics with Wildlife Forensics MSc, PgDip, PgCert, PGProfDev (Online Learning) The University of Edinburgh
Within conservation science, there is increasing recognition of the value of genetic data to support management decisions. However, scientists and managers with the skills and knowledge to apply population genetic theory to conservation practice are lacking.
Within this arena, wildlife forensics is an exciting new field that is attracting increasing global attention in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade.
Theoretical and practical learning
The PPD/Cert/Dip/MSc in Applied Conservation Genetics with Wildlife Forensics aims to provide a blend of theoretical and practical education in the application of genetic data to wildlife management and conservation law enforcement.
The programme will cover all essential aspects, from population genetic theory and data analysis to the considerations involved in the interpretation and transfer of scientific findings to management, policy and criminal investigation.
Choice of specialism
You will have the choice to specialise in either applied conservation genetics or wildlife forensics. Both options provide transferable scientific skills relating to:
- knowledge acquisition and application
- science communication
- decision making
The overall aim of the programme is to equip current and future wildlife professionals with the knowledge, skills and global networks to address modern challenges in conservation management and law enforcement.
Learn from internationally recognised specialists
The programme is designed as an institutional collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture), a government facility which houses the UK wildlife DNA forensics laboratory.
Students will have a unique opportunity to learn from internationally recognised specialists in the application of genetic analysis to conservation management and wildlife forensics.
In addition, individual courses will engage a number of external tutors from local and international organisations with specific expertise in the subject matter. Course materials will be based on actual examples from wildlife management projects and forensic casework.
Our online learning technology is fully interactive, and award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.
Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh's excellent resources but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.
The programme has been designed to use a range of assessment tools, both formative and summative, with multiple feedback opportunities across the programme.
Summative assessment and feedback have been designed to help students develop the key skills associated with the learning outcomes and are tied to practical applications such as reports and grant writing.
Formative assessment (e.g. MCQs and discussion groups) will be included in each course to provide opportunities for feedback before assessment deadlines.
Opportunities will be provided for formative feedback on assessment drafts.
The University of Edinburgh is currently ranked 15th in the World in the QS World University Rankings 2023.
Beyond gaining factual knowledge of the immediate subject matter, programme participation is designed to achieve a series of key learning outcomes:
Knowledge and Understanding
The student will be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of practical and ethical issues relating to the application of conservation genetics and wildlife forensics.
Practice: applied knowledge, skills and understanding
The student will be able to demonstrate how to plan, apply and interpret the outputs of appropriate research and forensic techniques.
Generic cognitive skills
The student will be able to analyse complex issues and identify solutions, even in the absence of complete or consistent information.
Communication, ICT, Numeracy Skills
The student will be able to communicate relevant scientific concepts and results, using appropriate methods, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge and expertise.
Autonomy, accountability and working with others
The student will be able to manage complex wildlife conservation and law enforcement issues and make or contribute to informed judgements that address current challenges in these fields.
This applied programme should equip students with the knowledge, skills and global networks necessary to use DNA analysis as a tool in wildlife conservation.
As a postgraduate degree from one of the world’s leading universities, it will be recognised as a valuable, hard-earned qualification that demonstrates both scientific acumen and an ability to translate research into conservation management practice.
The programme is composed of 180 credits divided over eight taught courses (6 compulsory and 2 electives chosen from 4) plus a dissertation.
- Essential Population Genetic Theory and Techniques (20 credits)
- Introduction to Applied Conservation Genetics Part 1 (10 credits)
- Introduction to Applied Conservation Genetics Part 2 (10 credits)
- Introduction to Wildlife Forensics (10 credits)
- Genetic Data Analysis for Conservation Management and Wildlife Forensics (10 credits)
- Applied Conservation Genetics and Wildlife Forensics (20 credits)
- The Role of Wildlife Genetics in Global Conservation Challenges (20 credits)
Elective courses currently offered:
- Quality Management in Wildlife Forensic Science (10 credits)
- Reporting Forensic Evidence (10 credits)
- Population Genetics for Conservation Breeding (10 credits)
- Conservation Genetics for Reintroductions, Translocations and Population Monitoring (10 credits)
- Dissertation Element (60 credits; must be written within a 12-month period)
Course availability will be dependent upon the number of students and the availability of places on non-programmed-owned courses. We cannot guarantee that all courses will be available to all students, each year.
The programme is designed to be taken part-time over three years (20 hours per week), with an option to complete in up to six years if required.
Students may exit the programme after completing 60 credits (Certificate) or after 120 credits (Diploma) and courses will also be offered as standalone Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) options.
Programme staff all actively work in applied conservation science alongside their academic posts and include members of the:
- IUCN SSC Conservation Genetics Specialist Group
- Society for Wildlife Forensic Science
- UN, US and UK wildlife forensic advisory groups
Programme Director: Prof Rob Ogden (University of Edinburgh) Deputy Programme Director: Dr Lucy Webster (SASA) Programme Co-ordinator: Dr Silvia Perez-Espona (University of Edinburgh)
Postgraduate Professional Development
Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course(s), without the time or financial commitment of a full Master, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.
You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit.
Alternatively, after one year of taking courses, you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to studying towards a higher award on a Master, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.
Although PPD courses have various start dates throughout the year, you may only start a Master, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme in the month of September. Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Master, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.
Scholarships and Funding
UK government postgraduate loans
If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.
The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:
- your programme
- the duration of your studies
- your tuition fee status
Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.