About the course
The Recanati-Kaplan Centre Postgraduate Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice is an eight-month, full-time course for early-career wildlife researchers.
The course is designed to enhance the skills of conservation science practitioners by teaching field survey techniques, data analysis methods, and reporting techniques commonly used in the study of terrestrial mammals. The course aims to help ecologists and field biologists in the developing world to implement effective conservation research and action.
The course is delivered by the Department of Biology’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), which has been active in conservation research and practice for more than three 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 reports which together complete an independent research project. The mode of teaching in the modules consists mostly of lectures, group discussions, technical practicals on the use of computer software, field sessions, tutorials and (group) workshops.
The independent research project concentrates 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. The project is divided into two phases: Phase One consists of a literature and methods review and a section containing data exploration; Phase Two builds upon this but also includes the full data analysis and discussion of results. 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.
Within the eight-month course the first month will consist of mostly self-paced distance learning, then a three month phase which consists predominantly of taught material, while the remaining four months is a mix between taught material and independent work on projects.
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.
Please note that the course is not suitable for individuals who are not currently working in an ecology or conservation research role. For entry-level ecology and wildlife conservation courses, please see the Short and Online Courses in the natural sciences run by the Department for Continuing Education.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the WildCRU and the Department of Biology and/or Department for Continuing Education, and this role will usually be performed by the Course Director.
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 Biology and the Department for Continuing Education.
Assessment is through the two reports of the independent research project and four assignments. The project reports are each worth 30% of your final mark. The assignments are 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.
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. Alumni and tutors stay in contact via a mailing list and private social media group.
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, 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.
Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25
Proven and potential academic excellence
The requirements described below are specific to this course and apply only in the year of entry that is shown. You can use our interactive tool to help you evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive.
Please be aware that any studentships that are linked to this course may have different or additional requirements and you should read any studentship information carefully before applying.
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours 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 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.
In exceptional circumstances applicants without a degree qualification who have substantial, applicable and professional experience (minimum 5 years) in an ecology or conservation research role may also be considered.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Considerable first-hand experience of field work and conservation issues in the developing world is essential.
- If you already have, or are currently studying for, a doctorate in the natural sciences, you would not be considered a priority candidate.
- Applicants are not expected to have scientific publications, but if they do, these would be taken into consideration during the evaluation of applications.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's standard 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 standard level are detailed in the table below.
|Minimum overall score
|Minimum score per component
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)
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.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
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.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.
Typically, the number of applicants shortlisted for interview is around fifteen, ie just under twice 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.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements described under that heading.
References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
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.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also 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 of Continuing Education and Department of Biology 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 comprehensive 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 Wi-Fi network is available throughout WildCRU including the student rooms. There are cooking facilities on site.
Departments offering this course
This course is offered jointly by the following departments:
Department for Continuing Education
The need for new learning opportunities throughout life is now recognised throughout society. An intensive, initial period of higher education is not always enough in times of rapid social, economic and technological change. The Department for Continuing Education is known worldwide as a leading provider of extended learning for professional and personal development.
The department provides high-quality, flexible, part-time graduate education, tailored for adults. Students can undertake graduate-level certificates, diplomas and taught master’s degrees in a wide range of subjects. Increasing numbers of courses are delivered in mixed mode, combining intensive periods of residence in Oxford with tutored online study.
The department recruits adult students of all ages on a regional, national and international level. Many courses are offered jointly with other academic departments around the University. Courses are offered in the following areas:
All postgraduate students on the department's courses are members of its Graduate School. The Graduate School aims to provide a stimulating and enriching environment for learning and research. It also fosters intellectual and social interaction between students coming from different disciplines and professions. Interdisciplinary research seminars, training opportunities and other events are offered by the Graduate School in support of this goal.
All masters' and DPhil applicants are considered for Clarendon Scholarships. The department is committed to seeking scholarship support for other students wherever possible.
Department of Biology
The Department of Biology is one of the leading UK university departments dedicated to research and teaching in biology, possessing world-class strengths across the breadth of modern biological science research.
The department’s research is organised into five sections:
- Behaviour and Biomechanics
- Ecology and Evolution
- Evolution and Developmental Biology
- Microbiology and Infectious Disease
- Molecular Plant Biology
There is considerable overlap between these sections, with many members of the department working in more than one section, and many research projects that cut across section boundaries. Indeed, a key characteristic of the department is that it works as a well-integrated whole with collaborations developing naturally between researchers working on diverse topics
All of the department’s laboratories are excellently equipped for modern cell and molecular technologies. In addition, you will have access to a range of unique facilities in the form of the living collections and arboretum of the University’s Botanic Garden and two on-site herbaria of international standing.
There are two routes into undertaking your doctoral research at the department. You may apply directly to the DPhil in Biology. Alternatively, you may apply to one of the University’s Doctoral Training Programmes. The latter are fully-funded, four-year graduate training programmes which involve a training period of taught courses for around three to six months before deciding on a DPhil project. Applicants are encouraged to consider both entry routes.
For details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information on external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources. We would suggest that you review this information carefully, as not all funding opportunities are available for students applying to postgraduate diploma and postgraduate certificate courses.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2024-25
Total Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
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 changes 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.
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.
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 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 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. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
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.
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. You can use our interactive tool to help you evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive.
If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
Before you apply, you should visit the department's website to read further information about the course. It is not necessary to contact a member of academic staff before you apply, however due to the specialist nature of the course and its entry requirements, it is recommended that you send your CV to the Course Co-ordinator before you start your application, via the contact details provided on this page.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.
For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application.
If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
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.
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.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A maximum of 500 words
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.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
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.