About the course
The Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Ecological Survey Techniques is a one year, part-time course providing the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to conduct effective ecological field surveys and data analysis for a range of key taxa.
The course can be completed in one year (though two years is possible), and uses a mixture of online, face-to-face and experiential learning, including an independent field survey project, and is led by experienced academics and practitioners.
The PGCert provides the high standard of training needed to design, plan and implement effective ecological field surveys from beginning to end, including handling data and reporting results. The course supports research and professional development in the field, providing students with the skills needed to effectively assess and monitor biodiversity and ecosystems across all biomes.
The face-to-face week in September includes classroom and field work based teaching, as well as practical exercises including the use of GIS software, this is followed by core and option modules taught online and an independently-researched project with field work.
The PGCert comprises:
- one five-day core face-to-face module, 'Introduction to Ecological Survey Techniques in Oxford' consisting of classroom and field-based teaching;
- two online core modules in plant biodiversity and in data analysis;
- a choice of two out of four online option modules specialising in mammals and reptiles, bird biodiversity, fish and amphibians, and invertebrate biodiversity. These online modules are five weeks in duration and will take no more than 100 hours to complete. Module tutors usually engage online for 6 hours per week distributed across each week and will focus on particular topics, questions and activities. There is no set time to log in to accommodate students in different time zones; and
- a core field project which consists of 1 month preparation time, 1-2 weeks full-time (or equivalent) field work and 1 month project writing for submission in September
Further details regarding the face-to-face week, online modules and field project, including indicative dates, are available via the course page on the department's website (see Further Information and Enquiries).
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of 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 Department for Continuing Education.
In the case of students who require specific help to adjust to an academic programme or to a new range of skills, the supervisor will work with them to ensure that they have additional support.
The course is assessed on a modular basis, with assessments reflecting the learning objectives of the course. During the course, you will be required to submit:
- one 2,500-word formative assignment, which will be marked with feedback but will not contribute credit towards formal course results;
- four 2,000-word assignments, up to two of which may be submitted as a PowerPoint poster or slide presentation depending on which option modules are chosen (10 CATS points each); and
- one 5,000-word field project and a 1000-word online journal (20 CATS points).
The course is ideal for both UK-based and international students who wish to follow a flexible programme of study leading to an Oxford qualification. A choice of modules enables students to explore areas of interest and specialism, and areas which are relevant to their professional needs. Drawing on a rich pool of expertise, teaching is conducted by a highly knowledgeable and diverse team of practitioners and academics engaged directly with ecological issues.
The course page on the department's website contains further information on key IT requirements for undertaking the course and spotlights on past students from the course.
The course is designed for a wide range of professionals needing to up-skill in environmental management, assessment and biodiversity monitoring, including consultants, environmental managers and educators, as well as volunteers and those looking to make a career change, that are seeking flexible study combined with expert training. The course provides excellent opportunities to network and share practical experience and ideas.
Current and past students have included rangers and environmental managers at wildlife trusts and NGOs, tutors in higher and further education, research scientists, ecological consultants, officers for statutory bodies, as well as students successfully making career changes.
Participation has helped to boost students' professional practice, enhance career prospects, helped to secure promotions, and enabled students to progress onto further graduate studies, including doctoral research. The course is international in its use of case studies and examples, and past students have joined the PGCert in Ecological Survey Techniques from the UK, North America, Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe.
Changes to this course and your supervision
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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Other courses you may wish to consider
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
Courses suggested by the department
Entry requirements for entry in 2021-22
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours. Candidates with a degree in environmental conservation, ecology, biodiversity or other life sciences subjects will be given priority; however, candidates with degrees in other subjects who can demonstrate field experience or science skills will also be considered.
Applicants who do not meet this requirement will also be considered if they are able to demonstrate considerable experience in the field of environmental conservation practice.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Applicants should have some first-hand knowledge and/or experience of field work or conservation issues.
- Evidence of training or volunteering in ecological field work or conservation issues may be an advantage. Evidence of research, training and professional experience in ecological field work or conservation issues may also be an advantage.
- The ability to demonstrate career development intentions and/or future career plans (such as a career change) with the course may be an advantage.
- Please note that written work and/or publications are not requested and such work cannot be considered as part of the selection process.
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
English language requirement
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
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
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.
Candidates whose written applications appear to suggest that basic requirements for entry to the course have been fulfilled will be invited to participate in an interview. All shortlisted applicants will therefore be expected to participate in an interview with the Course Director and another member of the academic team. The interview will be conducted either by telephone or video link.
Interview arrangements will be arranged with you at a mutually convenient time. The interviews typically take place within three weeks of the application deadline.
The purpose of the interview is to:
- ensure that you are fully informed of the standard of achievement and level of commitment required by the course of study; and
- establish your level of interest, motivation, enthusiasm and potential to benefit from the course of study.
Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
After an offer is made
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals.
The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. As well as housing a large collection of around 73,000 books, the library assists students who are taking online courses and who require access to electronic resources. The Bodleian e-book and e-journal collection covers a vast range of subject areas and supports students who need to study and conduct their own research via the internet.
The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 700 members following taught programmes and more than 80 undertaking doctoral research.
The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment.
Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.
The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students.
The University expects to be able to offer up to 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2021-22. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources. Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2021-22
Annual Course fees
|Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,|
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
|Overseas (including EU)||£7,462|
Course 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 course fees). 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.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
Please note that this course requires that you attend in Oxford for teaching, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. This includes a residential session in Oxford. Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a field 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 to help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2021-22 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,175 and £1,710 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2021-22, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.
If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.
Matriculation confers membership of the University on students. Students who enrol on this course will not be matriculated and will not become a member of an Oxford college. Although not formally members of the University, non-matriculated students are expected to observe the same rules and regulations as matriculated students. Further information about matriculation is available on the Oxford Students website.
How to apply
It is not necessary for you to make contact with the academic team prior to submitting an application. Any course-related queries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:
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.
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.
A maximum of 800 words
Please include the following in your statement:
- reasons for applying for the course
- previous experience in the environmental conservation sector (professional, voluntary or otherwise)
- previous relevant academic and vocational study or practical experience
- evidence of skills in critical analysis, wide contextual knowledge, and effective time management
- career plans or aspirations.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
Your statement will be assessed on how well it demonstrates the following:
- desire and commitment to learn, for example by discussing how the qualification will benefit you professionally or in your voluntary work, and to provide a vision of your future environmental activities;
- an awareness of the time commitment, as you will need to demonstrate that your employment and personal circumstances are appropriate and sufficiently flexible to meet the course requirements - where appropriate, you should have already discussed this time commitment with your employers and family before applying to the course;
- enthusiasm for the subject, as demonstrated by prior experience and involvement with relevant activities; and
- the ability to work alongside fellow students and tutors as part of an online community and independently, which may be assessed by asking you how much you work collaboratively or independently in your professional or voluntary work, or in prior experiences of study.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, at least one of which must be academic
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.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, ability to work in a group. At least one of the referees must be academic, and therefore qualified to comment on academic ability, achievement and potential; the remaining references may be professional.
Start or continue an application
Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.
Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.
Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and the deadline information in our Application Guide. Plan your time to submit your application well in advance - we recommend two or three weeks earlier.
Step 4: Check if you're eligible for an application fee waiver. Application fee waivers are available for:
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds who meet the eligibility criteria;
- residents in a country listed as low-income by the World Bank (refer to the eligibility criteria);
- current Oxford graduate taught students applying for readmission to an eligible course; and
- additional applications to selected research courses that are closely related to your first application.
Step 5: Start your application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, consult our Application Guide for advice at each stage. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.