MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring

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The course is designed to give you the ability to use and collect biological records and subject them to critical analysis.

Our biological recording courses are developed in association with the Field Studies Council and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. This gives both our teaching and graduate prospects the authority and reputation to appeal across a wide spectrum of organisations.

The course gives students the skills and knowledge they need to effectively collect and analyse biological records. The course is ideal for anyone working in ecological consultancy wishing to improve their survey skills, or those interested or involved in biological recording.

The wide range of option field-based practical units allow you to select units which focus on the species identification or survey skills you require and allow either taxonomic specialisation or the broadening of field skills. The core units include theoretical aspects of biological recording, including monitoring of ecosystems, site assessment, and analysis of data. Your MSc dissertation will allow you to focus on an area of interest within the field and is supported by a range of staff from across the Division of Biology. Due to the necessity of field seasons for practical units, the course can only be studied part-time over two or three years.

Features and Benefits

Career Prospects

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.

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Entry requirements

An undergraduate degree of 2:2 honours (or equivalent) in a relevant allied subject normally would be expected in subjects such as ecology, biology, zoology, botany, animal behaviour or environmental science. Exceptions may be possible for applicants who can demonstrate highly relevant work experience in industry over several years. Each application is considered on its own merit.

Course details

Core units

  • Biological Recording and Surveying
  • Research Methods and Design

Option units
Students may select six units from the list below during Years 1 and 2:

  • Difficult higher plants
  • Difficult Invertebrates
  • Bird Survey Techniques
  • Bryophytes
  • Site Assessment using Vegetation
  • Site Assessment using Invertebrates
  • QGIS
  • Using a Flora
  • Identifying Mosses and Liverworts
  • Surveying Terrestrial Invertebrates for Biological Recording
  • Identifying Woodland Plants
  • Identification of Bats
  • Aquatic Plants
  • Grasses, Sedges and Rushes
  • Plants of Bogs and Mires
  • Land Mammal Identification
  • Songbird Identification
  • Identification of Macrofungi
  • Identifying Hoverflies
  • NVC Grasslands
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Introduction to Phase 1 Surveys
  • Identifying Lichens
  • Identifying Odonata and Lepidoptera
  • Identifying trees
  • Identifying the Sedges and their Allies
  • Fern Identification
  • Identifying Coastal Plants
  • Identifying Marine Species and Habitats: the Biotope Approach
  • NVC Mires and Heaths

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Core Units

Research Methods and Design
This unit extends your knowledge and understanding of the research process and develops your ability to carry out independent research and critically appraise literature.
Biological Recording and Surveying

Students will gain an understanding of the methods for managing data in biological recording and its context and use within the wider environmental and conservation sectors. Through theoretical and practical applications, students will learn best practise in data creation, compilation, organisation and dissemination of records as they apply to a variety of taxonomical groups.

Core units

  • Monitoring Habitat and Species Responses to Environmental Change
  • Research Analysis

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Core Units

Monitoring Habitat and Species Responses to Environmental Change

Environmental change exerts constant pressure on our ecosystems. Drivers such as climate change and atmospheric pollution shift species gradients, alter plant community composition and wildlife populations, and affect the integrity of some of our most valuable semi-natural habitats.

In this unit, we explore the methods used by conservation agencies to monitor ecosystem responses to long-term environmental change and consider how we quantify the effectiveness of site management in mitigating change. We will examine weather, air & soil chemistry, plant & soil communities, birds & butterfly populations that are regularly surveyed, to understand the nature of environmental change and the techniques used to monitor responses to change including field survey and remote sensing methods.

Research Analysis

The Research Analysis unit is intended to provide students with a general awareness of, and practical utility in, statistical analysis and experimental design.

Core units

  • Project Dissertation in Biological Recording

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Core Units

Project Dissertation in Biological Recording

This unit allows students to undertake a novel biological recording research project and in doing so, practise the skills of research design, analysis, and scientific communication.

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.

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.

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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


UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1417 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).

UK and EU students: Distance learning 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: 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).

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Distance learning fee: £2750 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).

Additional costs

Professional Costs

Students often choose to buy a laptop and/or printer for their degree. The cost might be £300 to £400 for the personal laptop or tablet and £50 to £100 for the printer and print consumables.

Other Costs

This programme is delivered in association with the Field Studies Council and utilises FSC facilities across the UK. Core modules are delivered at Preston Montford (near Shrewsbury) and have 2 night residential/non-residential options of attendance available at additional cost. The optional field units (6 x 10 credits) are available from a wide portfolio of short courses delivered across FSC facilities in the UK. These field unit weekends also are offered as either 2/3 night residential/non-residential options of attendance, depending upon the choice of field unit taken.

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. Core modules: Min £40 - Max £560. Depending on non/residential arrangements. Optional Field Units (6 x 10 credits) £75 to £280 / 10 credits depending on option and residency arrangements.

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.

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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: for additional paperwork or to book yourself a place at an information day.

Manchester Metropolitan University Shrewsbury Office
The Gateway
Chester Street

Telephone 01743 355137


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