Programme specification programme title

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Programme title:

Biodiversity, Evolution & Conservation

Final award (BSc, MA etc):

(where stopping off points exist they should be detailed here and defined later in the document)


UCAS code:
(where applicable)

Intake cohort(s) to which this programme specification is applicable:

(e.g. from 2015 intake onwards)


Awarding institution/body:

University College London

Teaching institution:

University College London


Life Sciences

Parent Department:
(the department responsible for the administration of the programme)

Genetics, Evolution & Environment

Web page address:

(if applicable)

Method of study:



Length of the programme:

(please note any periods spent away from UCL, such as study abroad or placements in industry)

1 year

Level on Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ)
(see Guidance notes)

Level 7

Relevant subject benchmark statement (SBS)
(see Guidance notes)


Brief outline of the structure of the programme / its assessment:

(see guidance notes)

This 1-year programme will be comprised of a course-heavy first term (October to December), followed by 2 18-week research projects (January to September). The course portion of the programme is divided into three courses: 1) a research skills course which will provide training in oral and poster presentations and other transferable skills; 2) a seminar course, in which students will attend a series of mandatory seminars at UCL, the Natural History Museum, and the Institute of Zoology which will serve as the subjects for essays and discussions; and 3) an intensive methods course which will provide students with practical training in the variety of analytical tools using in pure and applied research in biodiversity, evolution, and conservation. Each course will have required coursework, ranging from practicals to essays and presentations. The two research projects will each be marked based on a written dissertation and poster or oral presentation, which will be given during a symposium at the end of each project period.

Board of Examiners:

Name of Board of Examiners:

Biodiversity, Evolution & Conservation (MRes) (BIODG)

Professional body accreditation

(if applicable):


Date of next scheduled accreditation visit:


Biodiversity is vital for sustaining life on Earth and for providing food, fuel, clean water and other ecosystem services that our wellbeing depends upon. However, factors such as habitat loss and climate change are resulting in widespread extinction. Basic scientific research on the evolutionary and ecological processes that produced our present biodiversity, and applied research on how to preserve this biodiversity in the future are crucial for preventing further losses. This research-led program is based in UCL’s Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment and run jointly with the Natural History Museum and the Institute of Zoology, providing unparalleled opportunities for students to learn and conduct research across the full breadth of pure and applied research in biodiversity. Emphasis on quantitative approaches to research in evolution, ecology, and conservation will offer students a strong foundation with which to pursue careers in academic research, environmental policy and management, applied conservation, public health, or scientific journalism. Taught courses will focus on cutting-edge quantitative tools in ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics, bioinformatics, systematics, palaeobiology, conservation, and environmental biology. Seminars and journal clubs rotating across UCL, the Natural History Museum, and the Institute of Zoology will grant students a unique and exceptionally broad understanding of ties among different fields of research relating to the generation and preservation of biodiversity. Two 18-week research projects will provide students with diverse opportunities for experience in the field, lab, collections-based, and theoretical research occurring at the three different institutions. The many possible research projects include the prospect of participating in global initiatives, such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (with researchers based at the Natural History Museum) or the EDGE (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered) of Existence programme, based at the Zoological Society of London. This is an ideal course for highly-motivated students interested in the breadth of evolutionary, ecological, and conservation science and seeking a program to provide a foundation in both pure and applied research in biodiversity.

Students completing this course will have obtained:
1) a rigorous training in quantitative methods used in evolutionary, ecological, environmental, and conservation science.

2) a broad introduction to the range of research concerned with biodiversity, from its past evolutionary roots to its future preservation.

3) research experience in pure and applied science in the diverse settings of a world-leading multidisciplinary university and two globally-renowned research organizations

4) transferable skills in quantitative data handling, oral and poster presentation, essay writing, reasoned argument, and critical thinking.

The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:

A: Knowledge and understanding

Knowledge and understanding of:

Pure and applied research in biodiversity, evolution, and conservation

Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

A research skills course, a seminar course on topics in biodiversity research, and an intensive analytical tools for research course, as well as 2 18-week research projects


Courses will be assessed by essays and oral presentations, research projects by project reports and oral and poster presentations

B: Skills and other attributes

Intellectual (thinking) skills:

Critical thinking, reasoned argument, data interpretation

Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

Research skills and seminar courses will include essay writing and oral presentations in discussion groups on mandatory seminars and assigned papers. Research projects and analytical tools in biodiversity research course will involve data interpretation.


Essays and oral presentations will be marked by the course coordinators. Research project reports and practicals for tools course will be marked by supervisors and course coordinators.

C: Skills and other attributes

Practical skills (able to):

Quantitative data handling, lab, field, and collections-based data collection, analysis, interpretation, and communication

Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

Essays and presentations based on papers and seminars form part of the seminar course, and project reports and presentations will follow each research project. Quantitative data analysis will be taught in the tools for research course, while data collection, analysis, interpretation and communication will be conducted during research projects


Essays, project reports, presentations, and practicals (for the tools course) will be marked by supervisors and course coordinators.

D: Skills and other attributes

Transferable skills (able to):

Oral and poster presentation, essay writing, quantitative data handling, critical thinking, reasoned argument, communication

Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

Essays and presentations will be part of the seminar and research skills courses, project reports and presentations will follow each research project, quantitative data analysis will be taught in the tools for research course


Essays, project reports, presentations, and practicals (for the tools course) will be marked

The following reference points were used in designing the programme:

  • the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications:


  • the relevant Subject Benchmark Statements:


  • the programme specifications for UCL degree programmes in relevant subjects (where applicable);

  • UCL teaching and learning policies;

  • staff research.

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information on the learning outcomes, content and teaching, learning and assessment methods of each course unit/module can be found in the departmental course handbook. The accuracy of the information contained in this document is reviewed by UCL and may be checked by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

Programme Organiser(s) Name(s):

Kate Jones

Date of production/revision:

July 28, 2011

Date approved by Chair of Departmental Teaching Committee:

June 2015

Date approved by Faculty Teaching Committee

June 2015

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