Manchester Metropolitan University

MSc

Biological Recording

2017 entry

Features and benefits of the course

  • Our biological recording courses are developed in association with the Field Studies Council and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.
  • We are offer all the following aspects of biological recording: site and species evaluation; wildlife legislation; identification of difficult taxa with scope for specialisation in invertebrates or plants; computerising field data; research methods including statistics.
  • The MSc is studied part-time, mainly at weekends on a residential basis at Field Studies Council centres. It takes a minimum of two years to complete (usually three years) and is compatible with full-time work.

About the course

Typical units of study may include

Year 1

Core units
• Managing Biological Recording

Option units

• Identifying Difficult Invertebrate Groups • Identifying Bryophytes for Recording and Conservation • Identifying Difficult Higher Plant Groups • Bird Survey
Techniques • Identification and Survey Techniques

Click below for this year’s unit information

Core Units
Managing Biological Recording

This unit will explore the collection and management of biological recording data in the context of real-world scenarios and experience.

Likely Optional Units
Bird Survey Techniques

This is a field-based unit, aimed to give some experience of bird survey techniques in the context of the types of sites surveyed, the species involved and the analysis and interpretation of the data from the perspective of both biological recording and conservation management.

Identification and Survey Techniques

There are three shell unitsand they cover a range of thirty 3 day residential options including Bumblebee Identification, Using a Flora, Aquatic Plants, Identification of Macrofungi, Reptiles and amphibians, and Identification of Bats.

Identifying Bryophytes for Conservation and Recording

This is a field-based unit, aiming to give some experience of Bryophyte identification in the field and in the laboratory. The aim of the unit is for the student to be aware of the range and depth of Bryophyte taxonomic categories and how to choose appropriate levels of recording for different purposes.

Identifying Difficult Higher Plant Groups

This is a field-based unit, aimed to give some experience of plant identification in the field and in the laboratory. The aim of the unit is for the student to be aware of the range and depth of higher plant taxa and how to choose appropriate levels of recording for different purposes.

Identifying Difficult Invertebrate Groups

This is a field and laboratory-based unit, providing experience of invertebrate specimen collection, preparation and identification. The aim of the unit is for the student to be aware of the wide range of techniques available for the preparation of invertebrate voucher specimens, to be aware of the procedures for specimen identification and validation of records and to develop a critical analysis of these processes.

Year 2

Core units
• Research Methods in Biological Recording

Option units

The following Year 1 option units are also available in Year 2:

• Identifying Difficult Invertebrate Groups • Identifying Bryophytes for Recording and Conservation • Identifying Difficult Higher Plant Groups • Bird Survey Techniques • Identification and Survey Techniques  • Site Assessment using Vegetation and Invertebrates

(see above for unit details)

The following option units are available only in Year 2:

•  Site Assessment using Invertebrates • Site Assessment Using Vegetation

Click below for this year’s unit information

Core Units
Research Methods in Biological Recording

This unit will explore the research methods associated with biological recording data in the context of real-world scenarios and experience. Topics include the use of statistical tests in biological recording and ecology, including generic tests such as t tests, Chi squared tests, Mann Whitney, Spearman ranking and specific tests such as Simpson’s, Sorensen’s, Shannon-Weiner diversity indices;  multivariate analysis of biological recording data, Ellenberg values, ordination, TWINSPAN®. Critical analysis of reports and papers and other published material on biological recording. Use of archive material and other specialist publications for biographies, handwriting of old collectors, use of gazetteers, use of metadata publications such as Simpson for botanical data; how to plan research reports, structure of reports, producing conference posters.

Likely Optional Units
Site Assessment Using Vegetation

This is a field-based unit, aimed to give experience of assessing sites for conservation and diversity using a range of techniques such as the National Vegetation Classification, Phase 1 survey, single species, quadrat sampling and the use of indicator species. The aim of the unit is for the student to be aware of the techniques available for vegetation site assessment and to develop a critical analysis of these techniques. It is assumed that you have at least basic plant identification skills; you should be competent to identify the more common species within at least one ‘difficult’ group.

Year 3

Core units
• Masters Project

Click below for this year’s unit information

Core Units
Masters Project in Biology or Conservation and Behaviour

This unit allows students to undertake a novel research project appropriate to their programme of study; to practise the skills of research design, analysis, and scientific communication.

Programme Review

Each programme of study that we offer undergoes an annual review to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. In addition, we undertake a major review of the programme, normally at 6-yearly intervals, but this can take place at a more frequent interval where required. Applicants should note that the programme currently provided may be subject to change as a result of the review process. We only make changes where we consider it necessary to do so or where we feel that certain changes are in the best interests of students and to enhance the quality of provision. Occasionally, we have to make changes for reasons outside our control. Where there are changes which may materially affect the current programme content and/or structure, offer holders will be informed.

Assessment details

All assessment is continuous there are some essays, presentations, practical assignments such as collection and preparation of voucher specimens, construction of identification keys, site evaluations, identification tests, production of posters and mock journal papers, all of which test your knowledge and critical understanding of biological recording theory and practice.

Additional Information About this Course

Students are expected to comply with the Schools codes of conduct and behaviour on field courses, placements and exchanges. Placements and study exchange opportunities are dependent on passing each stage at the first opportunity and being of good standing.

Teaching Staff

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject. Details of departmental staff can be found at: http://www.sste.mmu.ac.uk/our-staff/

Typical entry requirements

At least an upper second-class UK Honours degree (or international equivalent) in a subject such as ecology, biology, zoology, botany, animal behaviour or environmental science is normally required. Applicants from different academic backgrounds or without formal qualifications – but with equivalent experience – will also be considered.

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

How do I apply for this course?

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

Apply online now

We run a number of information days to which you and your employer are more than welcome to attend you do not have to put in an application beforehand. We can offer you an interview on the same day so that if you do wish to apply, you do not have to attend again.

For more information, please contact:
Emma Hopkisson E.Hopkisson@mmu.ac.uk for additional paper work or to book yourself a place at an information day.

Manchester Metropolitan University Shrewsbury Office
The Gateway
Chester Street
Shrewsbury
SY1 1NB

Telephone 01743 355137

Career options after the course

Our students have an excellent record of promotion and recruitment to jobs in ecology and biological recording, especially those with an emphasis on high quality field skills and record interpretation.

Careers support is available from the moment you join us, throughout your time here, and for up to three years after the completion of your course. We have a range of services available through the School of Science and the Environment and the University Careers Service including dedicated careers and employability advisors.

Confirmation of Regulator

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.

Important Notice

This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate and up to date. Please note that our programmes are subject to review and development on an ongoing basis. Changes may sometimes be necessary. For example, to comply with the requirements of professional or accrediting bodies or as a result of student feedback or external examiners’ reports. We also need to ensure that our courses are dynamic and current and that the content and structure maintain academic standards and enhance the quality of the student experience.

Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us.

The provision of education by the University is subject to terms and conditions of enrollment and contract. The current Terms and Conditions Applicable to the provision of the University’s Educational Services are available online. When a student enrolls with us, their study and registration at the University will be governed by various regulations, policies and procedures. It is important that applicants/students familiarize themselves with our Terms and Conditions and the Key Contract Documents referred to within. Applicants will be provided with access to an up to date version at offer stage. This can be found within the Information for Offer Holders document.