This course provides broad research training in ecology, evolution and conservation, focusing on fundamental concepts and theory, and their application to conservation and biodiversity science.
Based at Silwood Park Campus, an internationally renowned centre of excellence for ecological research, the taught course covers a range of topics, each taught by a leading researcher in that field.
You also complete a five-month research project on a topic of your choice.
The course will be suitable for those interested in a career in applied ecology or conservation, or in preparing for a PhD.
The course comprises a series of week-long compulsory modules covering the fundamental concepts and applications of ecology, evolution and conservation:
You also undertake a 20-week research project.
Year One: All modules are compulsory Term one: All students attend induction days, followed by five one-week modules on core topics in Ecology and Evolution: Plant Community Ecology, Population Dynamics and Modelling, and Global Change Biology I, II and III. The rest of the first term includes three weeks from the Evolutionary Analysis modules (Practical Molecular Ecology, Phylogenetics and Microevolution and Micropaleontology) and two weeks from the Conservation and Management modules (Conservation and Sustainable Use and Demography & Management). Seven afternoons during the term are devoted to a habitat management exercise using the habitats at Silwood Park. Projects suggested by College staff or solicited from external Research Institutes and Companies are advertised to students in the MSc project book. Students are also encouraged to approach staff with their own ideas and are advised to start discussing possible research projects with appropriate academic staff as soon as possible. Term Two: The term begins with an computer-based essay exam examining the first 9 weeks of term 1. The Evolutionary Analysis block then continues with Speciation and the Evolution of Biodiversity and Genomes, Selfish Elements & Conflict. A week is then dedicated to launching individual miniprojects, with group discussions to evaluate ideas and research seminars on a range of topics. The next three weeks comprise Statistical Computing course parallel with other Masters courses at Silwood Park. The taught course concludes with two modules on Ecology & Ecosystems: Forest Ecology and Microbial Ecology. The final week is devoted to completion of mini-projects and groupbased feedback on statistical analyses. Other activities in term two include a workshop on Environmental Impact Assessment and conservation workshops with external visitors. Projects are chosen by the end of Term at the latest and background reading begins. There is a two week reading period at the end of term, followed by two computer-based written exams: one 2-hour exam on data interpretation and one 3-hour exam examining the taught material from the last week of term 1 and from term 2. Term Three: Projects start at the beginning of Term 3, following background reading over the vacation. The projects are conducted at Imperial College or, in part or in whole, at external research institutions or agencies in the UK or overseas. Where the projects are external, a member of Imperial College academic staff is assigned to advise and to monitor student progress. Project assessment is based on a written dissertation in the form of a scientific paper and a viva with two members of the department. All students also have a viva on their project and other aspects of the course with the External Examiner, prior to the MSc Examination Board meeting in late September. The course contributes 90 ECTS; 45 for the taught course (assessed by coursework and examinations) and 45 for the research project (assessed by the dissertation). Different models for the part-time course are available, agreed in discussion with the course director.
Each MSc student completes a 22 week research project drawn broadly from ecology, evolution and conservation. Students choose their projects in discussion with potential supervisors depending on their interests and on which practical skills they wish to learn. Students can be based in a lab or the field at Silwood, in other organisations in the UK, or abroad.
Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).
Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.
All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.
The minimum qualification for admission is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree in a Science-based subject from an UK academic institution or an equivalent overseas qualification. All UK applicants (and where possible overseas applicants) are invited to Silwood Park for a site tour. Places are offered on the basis of written applications. Where an applicant has a lesser degree qualification but has at least 2 years work experience in a related discipline, a special cases for admission may be submitted to the GSLSM by the Course Director or Postgraduate Tutor.