Masters in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation (MSc and MRes)
MSc Course director
MRes COURSE DIRECTOR
The EEC Masters program provides a broad research training in ecology, evolution and conservation. It is taught by active researchers throughout the department, and these internationally recognised experts use their own research as model systems to illustrate the fundamental scientific principles that underpin the study topics. We concentrate on inter-disciplinary approaches and current research tools in these disciplines, and use external visitors from a range of conservation organisations to highlight the issues around applying science to practical conservation.
The program includes two sister courses. The MSc course includes 20 weeks of taught modules, followed by a single long research project. The MRes course shares the first five weeks of core teaching in key skills and then students carry out two separate research projects, one over the winter and one in the summer.
These complementary courses offer a contrasting choice of learning experiences. The MSc course offers a wider range of instruction across a large set of research areas, allowing you to gain a clear insight into your own research interests from among current research topics. The MRes course hits the ground running: the greater focus on independent research allows you to specialise in your existing research interests. Both courses offer a equally strong grounding in postgraduate biological research suitable for a career in applied biology or conservation or as preparation for a PhD.
Most students follow the EEC course as a full-time, one-year program but part-time options over two years are available. If you are interested in following the course part-time, please contact David Orme to discuss possible timetables.
The taught course comprises a varied mixture of lectures, practicals, fieldwork, and group workshops. Teaching is arranged in week-long modules, each of which is convened by research scientists from the department and provides a detailed overview of key research concepts in their particular topic.
The first five weeks are shared between the MRes and MSc and provide a fast-paced introduction to key research skills. These modules include two weeks of core field skills, followed by modules on geographic information systems, statistics and computing in biology. We teach using open source tools, such as Quantum GIS and R, so that you are able to take both the skills and the software for research with you when you graduate.
Students following the MSc course will then take a further five modules in the Autumn term. The spring term includes a further 8 topic modules and a two-week individual research project in preparation for the summer research project and to gain experience in 'research thinking'. Current modules outside of the core skills weeks are:
- speciation and the evolution of diversity,
- conservation economics,
- genomics and bioinformatics,
- genome evolution,
- fungal biology,
- demography in conservation,
- applied biocontrol,
- applied evolution and pest management,
- phylogenetics and evolution,
- advanced topics in statistics,
- ecology and global change,
- and behavioural ecology.
All taught course modules are mandatory for MSc students. MRes students will attend the advanced statistics modules and can choose to attend up to two other taught modules as part of their degree.
The current course handbook provides full detail of the taught course structure and the content of each module. The taught modules are revised and updated each year to take account of advances in research and to incorporate new research interests, but always cover a balanced mixture of active research in ecology, evolution and conservation.
All research projects within the EEC program run for 22 weeks and are drawn very broadly across the core areas of ecology, evolution and conservation. Research projects on the EEC course are longer than is typical for Masters programs - they are commonly around 18 week s - and provide extensive training in research skills. As well as practical research skills - such as field, lab or computing skills - you will also gain a wide r ange of general research skills. To provide training in scientific publication, research projects are written as scientific papers and a large number of EEC Masters p rojects have ac tually been published!
All research projects are arranged in discuss ion with academic staff after you have started the course, gi v ing you the opportunity to expore different options and gain expe rience before committing to a topic. Many projects are based in a lab or in the field with academics based at Silwood but we also offer projects in partnership with many external organisations, including the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the Natural History Museum, the Institute of Zoology, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and a wide range of other research organisations.
Assessment of the taught course for MSc students counts for 50% of the overall degree grade and is based on written exams (30% from two essay papers and one data interpretation exam) and four pieces of assessed coursework (20%). The coursework provides training in research skills and scientific communication and currently includes: a habitat management poster and elevator pitch, research grant preparation, a short independent research project report and a conference-style research presentation. Research projects count for 50% of the overall degree grade, with the two projects counting equally towards the MRes degree. Each project is assessed based on a combination of your performance within the research group (10%), the project report (30%) and a project viva (10%).
The course is based at Silwood Park, an attractive postgraduate campus set in leafy Berkshire [Google map] and about one hour from central London. Silwood is a friendly and welcoming campus and you will form part of a large postgraduate research community of around 150 postgraduate students and 100 research staff. The EEC program has around 40 - 50 students each year: small enough to get to know everyone and large enough to provide a supportive community.
Silwood is at the forefront of international research on ecology, evolution and conservation. The site has excellent scientific facilities plus unrivalled opportunities for fieldwork afforded by its extensive grounds. Students will work within a world-class research environment, attend seminars by leading international researchers and be trained in state-of-the-art research techniques. We can offer accommodation on site in reasonably priced single rooms and a limited number of shared flats.
How to apply
The course is primarily intended for graduates with a undergraduate degree equivalent to at least a second class honours in a biological, environmental or related science subject. We are also happy to discuss applications from students who have similarly strong experience in biology through work experience. We typically look for evidence of greater research experience or a higher degree grade for applicants to the MRes course.
All applications to the program are online through the Imperial College Embark application site. You should read the application instructions carefully before submitting your application. If you are applying from overseas, please take note of any English requirements and the country by country guidance on which degree grades are considered equivalent to a UK second class honours.
We maintain a website of advice on funding postgraduate study at Imperial College London and, the Imperial College Master's Support Scheme for UK students, and the Basil Furneaux Memorial Fund for current or past Imperial students, provide competitive scholarship programs that provides support to academically excellent students who might otherwise have been deterred from postgraduate study because of financial constraints.
Links with employers
Imperial College works closely with employers and industry, including Industrial Advisory Panels to design Master’s courses which provide graduates with technical knowledge, expertise and transferable skills and to encourage students to take internships and placements. All Master’s courses are designed with employer needs in mind with some Master’s courses accredited by Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies. Most Master’s courses offer an opportunity to carry out research projects in industry.