PGDip in International Wildlife Conservation Practice | University of Oxford
Radcliffe Camera
The Radcliffe Camera, seen from the Bodleian Quad
(Image Credit: Christopher Wills)

PGDip in International Wildlife Conservation Practice

About the course

This is an eight month full-time course focusing on the global dimensions of wildlife conservation, and the survey and analysis methods commonly used in the study of terrestrial mammals.

The Recanati-Kaplan Centre Postgraduate Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice is designed to enhance the skills of conservation practitioners by teaching field, analytical and reporting techniques necessary for effective conservation research and action.

The course is delivered by the Department of Zoology’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), which has been active in conservation research and practice for more than two decades. The course is made possible by a donation from the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation, and is jointly managed with the Department for Continuing Education.

The focus of the course is on methods commonly used in the study of large mammals, and especially carnivores, in the developing world. The curriculum consists of modules on wildlife ecology, monitoring and survey techniques, GIS and habitat assessment, population management and statistics, as well as two independent research projects. The mode of teaching involves lectures, group discussions, technical practicals on the use of computer software, field sessions and individual tutorials.

The independent research projects concentrate on the organisation, analysis and reporting of previously collected data that you bring with you or is provided by WildCRU researchers. There is no time to undertake primary data collection in country or abroad during the course duration. Unifying threads running through the course are the global and human dimensions of biodiversity conservation. You will learn both the theory and practical aspects of field techniques, so that you can confidently adopt them in the future, as well as critically evaluate other projects.

Assessment is through the two project reports and four assignments. The project reports will be a maximum of 7,000 words, and each worth 30% of your final mark. The assignments will be up to 2,000 words, and each worth 10% of your final mark. Most module assignments will be short-answer questions, presenting data to be analysed, scientific research to critique, a problem for which you will design solutions, or information to be synthesised into a brief report/recommendation.

Up to eight students are accepted each year and applications are particularly welcomed from conservationists working in economically less-developed parts of the world, for whom need-based scholarships are available. Suitable candidates are early-career field conservationists, working with government agencies or NGOs, who will implement and disseminate their skills to their home countries.

Graduate destinations

Graduates of the course continue to build on their role as field biologists and conservation practitioners, working within national wildlife management and protected area systems, for NGOs or as independent practitioners. Many graduates further their academic studies within two or three years of completing the course. An online forum offers alumni networking opportunities with each other and the course tutors.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a biology/natural resources-related field.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

Considerable first-hand experience of field work and conservation issues in the developing world is a requirement. If you already have, or currently studying for, a doctorate in the natural sciences, you would not be considered a priority candidate.

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Typically, the number of applicants shortlisted for interview is around twelve, ie 1.5 times the planned class size. Shortlisted applicants are asked for telephone or Skype interviews in mid-July. Interviewees are invited to briefly introduce themselves and their motivation to attend the course, and are asked clarification questions about their professional careers and wildlife conservation experience. There will be a minimum of two interviewers and interviews typically last 15 to 20 minutes.

Publications

Applicants are not expected to have scientific publications, but if they do, these would be taken into consideration during the evaluation of applications.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Considerable first-hand experience of field work and conservation issues in the developing world is essential.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of WildCRU and the Department of Zoology, in conjunction with the Department for Continuing Education, to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of WildCRU and the Department of Zoology, in conjunction with the Department for Continuing Education, and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the WildCRU, the Department of Zoology and the Department for Continuing Education.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

The Department of Continuing Education and Department of Zoology are committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals.

WildCRU has an on-site library developed specifically for the needs of the postgraduate diploma students covering comprehensively material relevant to the course. Depending on your research projects, you may need to use other libraries as well. Oxford University has a large number of libraries and you will have accessed to all those managed by Oxford University Library Services (OULS), including the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) and the Rewley House Continuing Education Library. Oxford University libraries subscribe to a large number of electronic resources which will be available to you for the duration of the course. These resources include specialist indexes and databases, electronic news services, electronic reference books, statistical information and other full text resources. Oxford also subscribes to a large number of electronic journals.

The course provides various IT facilities, including a laptop for your use during the course. The university provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe.

This is a residential course and students reside at the purpose-built student dormitory adjacent to the teaching facilities at the Panthera Building of WildCRU. A WiFi network is available throughout WildCRU including the student rooms. There are cooking facilities on site.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A range of scholarships are available to students on the programmes offered by the department, along with bursary funds to assist students on low incomes. Full information on these opportunities can be found on the departmental funding pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total Course fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£11,075N/A£11,075
Overseas£11,075N/A£11,075

The fees shown above are the annual tuition fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges. College fees are not generally payable for non-matriculated courses although a small number of courses may permit college affiliation for which a charge will be made.

Tuition fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition fees).

For more information about tuition fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

This course is residential near Oxford, so you will need to meet your travel and accommodation costs; however, grants are available covering fees, accommodation and travel. Please see the course page on the department's website for further details. Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

Colleges

This is a non-matriculated course and students studying non-matriculated courses do not become members of an Oxford college. More information about matriculated and non-matriculated courses can be found on the Matriculation page.

How to apply

If you wish to enquire whether you have the appropriate background to be considered a strong applicant - in particular, if you are lacking a relevant first degree - you may email your CV to the course co-ordinator before applying.

However, it is not necessary to contact a member of academic staff before you apply.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
One to two pages

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for wildlife research and conservation
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • well argued understanding of the benefits of the course to your current employment and future prospects.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic and/or professional

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Both academic and professional references are acceptable, though ideally references should be relevant to the course.

Your references will support your academic potential and conservation-related field experience.