MSc Biological Recording

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Overview

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

In Year 1, you will study the compulsory unit Managing Biological Records, which runs over four weekends from October to January with each weekend running from Friday evening to Sunday at 4.00pm. This is based at Preston Montford Field Centre near Shrewsbury.

In the spring and summer you can choose from a number of field-based units, each of which takes place over a long (three day) weekend running from Friday evening to Monday at 4.00pm. If you stop after successful completion of these units, you will be awarded the Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording.

The second year follows a very similar pattern, with the compulsory unit being Research Methods in Biological Recording over four winter weekends, then three more spring and summer units. If you stop after successful completion of these units, you will be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma in Biological Recording. Successful completion of a dissertation will then result in the MSc degree.

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

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.

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

Course details

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

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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

Identification and Survey Techniques

There are three shell units and 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

(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

Read more about this year of study

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.

Core units

  • •Masters Project

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Read more about this year of study

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.

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.

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: 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: Distance learning 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 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

£840

This programme is delivered is 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.

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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

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: biorec@mmu.ac.uk for additional paperwork 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

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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.

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