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MSc Biodiversity, Ecology and Ecosystems

Become one of tomorrow's key players in the development of sustainable agricultural solutions

2018/19 entry


1 year full-time

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

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As the global population exceeds seven billion, the agricultural industry is one of the largest and most vital in the world. However, it is fundamentally unsustainable. The need to produce enough to feed our population, without compromising future generations' ability to do the same, is becoming ever more important.

This MSc combines cutting-edge theory with the practical, applied skills you'll need to become an effective researcher or industry specialist. Our teaching draws directly from our research, meaning you'll be working with academics who are leading the field. You'll benefit from state-of-the-art facilities and expertise from Department of Biology staff with close links to the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products and the York Environmental Sustainability Institute.

This course is an ideal next step for students with a BSc who are interested in pursuing a career in research or industry.


Research that matters

We are ranked 1st in the UK for research impact outside academia - our research has a major influence on environmental policy, industry and health (REF 2014)

Course content

In the Autumn Term, you'll complete two option modules. In the Spring Term, you'll complete a compulsory Biodiversity, Ecology and Ecosystems module.

Two compulsory modules - Research, Professional and Team Skills and Data Analysis and Programming in the Biosciences - run over the Autumn and Spring Term.

Finally, you'll complete your independent study module (your research project) over the Summer Term and vacation.


Compulsory modules

Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Ecology (20 credits)

Data Analysis and Programming in the Biosciences will enable you to develop essential skills in data analysis, programming and programme design, including the analysis and presentation of biological data using R. (20 credits)

Research, Professional and Team Skills will help you to develop your personal effectiveness, planning, communication and presentation skills and will give you training in bioethics - key skills in laying the foundation for your future career. (30 credits)

The Independent Study Module is designed to give you experience in managing and completing a project in a cutting-edge research context. (90 credits)

Option modules (10 credits each)

Choose two of the following:

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


You will complete an independent study project during the Summer Term, which is designed to give you experience in managing and completing a project in a cutting-edge research context. 

This is an opportunity to further develop and apply your skills to a current research question, and specialise in a particular area or research technique​. 

Most students choose to complete a project in collaboration with an academic supervisor within the University, but you may opt to complete this project as an external placement.

You will have full access to our dedicated Masters workspace whilst completing your project.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2018/19

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year)£7,940£20,910

Additional costs

You may choose to purchase your lab coat, safety goggles and other personal protective equipment (PPE), but there are usually second-hand options available. You may wish to buy any textbooks used in your modules, although this is not compulsory.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

You'll be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and group work. You'll have the opportunity to work closely with academics, who will present a problem and demonstrate how their research may provide a solution. This will allow you to gain in-depth knowledge of current research and developments in the field.

Teaching location

The Department of Biology is located on Campus West - nearly all of your teaching will take place within the Department. The majority of departments, colleges and facilities are based nearby.

Course location

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You will be assessed in a variety of ways including:

  • written reports
  • data analysis reports
  • oral presentations
  • group project work
  • poster presentations

Your research project will be 50% of your final mark.

Students sitting round table
Student in lab coat

Careers and skills

This course is an essential step into further research or industry for students with a BSc in the biosciences. Around half of our students pursue further study, while the other half go into industry.

Career opportunities

You may go to on to work in:

  • the environment sector
  • construction
  • ecological consultancy
  • environmental organisations
  • government policy

Transferable skills

You will develop the following transferable skills:

  • critical thinking
  • data interpretation
  • statistics
  • programming
  • written, oral and graphical presentation of scientific data and ideas

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade

You should have a strong 2:1 bioscience degree (or equivalent). We also consider applicants who have a 2:2 degree with substantial industry experience. Please note that if you have completed an integrated Masters, this course is not suitable for you.

English language

If your first language is not English you will need to show evidence that you meet our English language requirements:

  • IELTS: (Academic): 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each section
  • PTE: 61, with no less than 55 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 176, with no less than 169 in each component
  • TOEFL: 87, with a minimum of 21 in each component
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Merit in all components

If you have any queries, please contact our admissions team. 


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

If you are an international student please check the minimum requirements for your country or region.

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Contact our admissions team if you have any questions

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