MSc Animal Behaviour

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Overview

The MSc in Animal Behaviour addresses the interaction between environment, experience and physiology in the development and dynamics of behaviour. There is an applied element in terms of how the principles of animal behaviour can be applied to practical problems such as animal welfare and conservation. Students can gain experience of laboratory studies (of invertebrates) and field work. The programme features a strong numerical and research-orientated approach. A range of elective units are available, including Zoo Conservation Biology which takes place at Chester Zoo. There is also a compulsory residential field course in Poland or Tanzania.

The MSc is completed by a research-based project which can be carried out overseas or in the UK. There are also opportunities to work within Manchester Met research projects in Tanzania, Kenya, the Philippines, Mauritius and Madeira.

Non means-tested loans of up to a maximum of £10,000 will be available to postgraduate master’s students - click here to find out more information

Features and Benefits

Career Prospects

Graduate career routes include: animal management, pest control and agriculture, teaching and environmental education with organisations such as environmental consultancies, government research and advisory bodies, zoos and NGOs.

A number of students are already in relevant jobs and are taking one of our biology/conservation Masters degrees as part of in-service training. Many students go on to study at PhD level.

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.

Learn more about graduate careers

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, psychology or environmental science is normally required. Applicants from different academic backgrounds or without formal qualifications – but with equivalent experience – will also be considered.

International students please see mmu.ac.uk/international

Course details

Course delivery is flexible and most lectures take place in the evening. Lectures, other course materials and assessment information is available via our online learning platform, Moodle. You will be assessed mostly through coursework, although some units have a formal examination.

Our Masters programmes in behaviour and conservation are run by a large group of research active staff with strong links to a variety of research institutions, national organisations and non-governmental bodies in the UK and overseas.

Each term there is a research colloquium in which invited speakers talk about areas of research directly relevant to our MSc programmes.

MSc student research projects

You will be able to stay for six weeks at one of our research bases in Tanzania or Kenya and collect data for your own research project.

You can also join our two-week Tanzania Field Course, which takes place in June every year. There are visits to some of the most famous wildlife sites in the world, including the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. We study some of the human impacts on, and management issues in, these protected areas as well as some of the factors affecting group size and mating systems of large mammals.

We are currently undertaking a number of research studies on:

Read the Biology Student blog: Carly Morris - Seal Research

Core units

  • Behavioural Biology
  • Statistics and Research Design
  • Practical Techniques (including field course)
  • Research Project

Option units

  • Species Conservation
  • Genetics of Populations
  • Zoos and Conservation
  • Avian Biology and Conservation

Click below for this year’s unit information

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Project
This unit allows you to undertake a novel research project appropriate to your programme of study. It will allow you to practise the skills of proposal writing, research design, analysis and presentation.
Practical Techniques

The unit provides you the practical experience and techniques essential for your chosen field. Animal Behaviour and Zoo Conservation Biology students can choose between a work placement (at least two months) and a residential field course within Europe or the tropics. A field course will normally be compulsory for students on all other MSc courses and the content will be appropriate to their particular MSc programme.

Behavioural Biology

This unit provides an overview of the contemporary study of animal behaviour and applied animal behaviour, together with detailed case studies. The unit prepares you for further study or employment in animal behaviour and related fields by providing experience of research design and scientific communication. The unit is underpinned by evolutionary thinking and the four levels of analysis Niko Tinbergen put forward for the study of Animal Behaviour, namely development (learning), mechanism (neurological and hormonal underpinnings), function (how does it help an individual survive and reproduce?) and evolution (how did it evolve?).

Statistics and Research Design

You will address problems and solutions associated with the analysis of real ecological and behavioural data sets. You will use a problem-based approach, centred on a large data set, to investigate methods of data manipulation and transformation, exploratory analyses (numerical and graphical) and hypothesis testing. Background information relating to experimental design, hypothesis testing, exploratory data analysis and statistical model building will be provided. Practical computer-based exercises will support topics covered in lectures and demonstrate data handling and analytical techniques.

Likely Optional Units

Genetics of Populations

Within the context of modern population genetics, this unit will introduce the application of molecular genetics tools to a range of problems in conservation and evolution. Equal emphasis will be placed on background theory, data handling and generation and surveying modern applied genetics through case studies and the primary literature. Lectures will deliver background information and will include population genetics and molecular genetics, with applications including the conservation management of small populations, identification of taxonomic units at the population level and inferring species biology using molecular data.

Species Conservation

This unit will address the evolutionary and ecological background to species conservation and critically evaluate the role of natural and anthropogenic factors in promoting extinction. The ways in which species are selected for conservation action will be addressed and the reasons for success or failure in conservation programmes evaluated. A number of animal groups and habitats will be selected for case studies.

Zoos and Conservation

This unit will consider the role of captive animals in conservation from both a biological and management viewpoint.  It will examine how a range of biological research techniques have contributed to the maintenance, successful breeding and welfare of zoo animals. It will consider the ethical issues associated with zoos and evaluate the value of in situ, ex situ and reintroduction programmes for conservation generally. In addition, the unit will examine the management of captive breeding programmes and the factors that affect collection planning.

Avian Biology and Conservation

This unit deals with the evolution, biology, and biogeography of birds and how evidence from these different research themes is utilised for avian conservation management. The unit will involve: an introduction to avian taxonomy and phylogeny; examination of the evolution of avian communication and life-history strategies; an introduction to avian biogeography and possible impacts of climate change and habitat modification; quantifying anthropogenic threats and avian extinction risk; human-avian population conflicts; and exploring possible solutions for applied avian conservation management such as habitat restoration schemes, agri-environment schemes and ecosystem services.

Assessment weightings and contact hours

Study
Assessment

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.

Placements options

There are optional three month placements for those taking MSc Zoo Conservation Biology and these can take place at many different zoos in the UK.

School of Science and the Environment

Our School of Science and the Environment is a research-rich academic community with a well-established reputation in biology, chemistry, geography and environmental science.

The department works with research institutions, industry partners, national organisations and NGOs worldwide to address the challenges posed by environmental, socio-economic, cultural and political change, as well as health and advanced materials.

More about the department

Taught by experts

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.

Meet our expert staff

Fees

UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Full-time fee: £9,250 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1542 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU and Channel Island students

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £15,500 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2584 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Part-time students may take a maximum of 90 credits each academic year.

Additional costs

Specialist Costs

Students often choose to buy a laptop for their degree (costing approximately £300 to £400) and a printer (costing £50 to £100 including print consumables) but there are numerous drop-in computer facilities across campus and laptops for loan in the library. Lab coats and safety glasses are provided free of charge and expected to last for the duration of the course. Students will have to purchase replacements for lost or damaged PPE.

Placement Costs

2,300

Students have a choice of two core residential fieldtrips associated with their course. These are subsidised but students can expect to pay a contribution to costs of approx. £250 for European (currently Poland) based field course and £2300 for Tanzania based field course. For the field course to East Africa additional costs may incurred if inoculations are required (approx. £200-300).

Other Costs

£150

MMU now provides free travel insurance for students when they travel in connection with their programme of study, for example, placements, field trips, exchanges etc. However, students should also take out personal insurance cover for belongings as items such as mobile phones are not covered by this policy. Our courses have field-based elements of delivery so students would be expected to dress appropriately (i.e. purchase waterproof coats and trousers, sturdy footwear/walking boots). Students will be expected to print out assessments (including dissertations (with binding) and posters). Travel expenses associated with independent data collection for final year dissertations are not reimbursed by the School. Students will be advised to undertake low-cost local fieldwork at the design and planning stages of a project if necessary. We currently offer the opportunity, subject to demand, of carrying out project field work in Kenya or Tanzania, if available this would carry and additional cost of between £1,800 - £2,300, depending upon whether taken in conjunction with the residential optional Tanzania based field course.

Postgraduate Loan Scheme

Up to £10,609 available to students who live in England

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Alumni Loyalty Discount

Rewarding our graduates

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How to apply

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

If you are unable to apply online, you can apply for full- and part-time taught courses by completing the postgraduate application form. There are exceptions for some professional courses – the course information on our on-line prospectus will give you more information in these cases.

Please note: to apply for this course, you only need to provide one reference.

You can review our current Terms and Conditions before you make your application. If you are successful with your application, we will send you up to date information alongside your offer letter.

MANCHESTER IS YOUR CITY. BE PART OF IT.

Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

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. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.

Confirmation of Regulator
The Office for Students is the principal regulator for the University. For further information about their role please visit the Office for Students website. You can find out more about our courses including our approach to timetabling, course structures and assessment and feedback on our website.

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