MSc Projects & Placements

The School of Biological Sciences here at the University of Reading runs two MSc courses broadly within wildlife conservation and ecology: MSc Wildlife Management & Conservation and MSc Species Identification and Survey Skills (which has a special focus on ecological consulting as a career path). The taught elements of these programs are packed tightly across the autumn and spring terms, seemingly over before they’ve really begun. So it is that we’re already at the time of year when our brave students head out into the ‘real world’!

The Wildlife Managers will be conducting an independent research project, often in conjunction with an external organisation such as the RSPB, GWCT or Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, or as a contribution to existing research within the school. In effect the project represents the culmination of what students work towards during the taught course; combining practical survey skills, research and information gathering, and statistical analysis, presentation and interpretation.

Bluebell woods visited during my MSc research project, summer of 2011.

Bluebell woods visited during my MSc research project, summer of 2011.

The S.I.S.S students will (mostly*) be diving right into the deep end of ecological consultancy on a five month work placement. This is not work experience but real work, and for the duration of the summer they’ll be treated like – and worked as hard as – any other employee of the consultant they’re placed with.

As a graduate of the Wildlife Management MSc I can certainly say that the spring and summer I did my project were very memorable indeed. It was an immensely rewarding experience, and a large contributing factor to my subsequent decision to continue a career in research with a PhD.

Conducting ecological research can be a great excuse to spend lots of time outside in beautiful countryside!

Conducting ecological research can be a great excuse to spend lots of time outside in beautiful countryside!

We’re encouraging this year’s cohort of students to keep us updated, and hope to be able to share some of their adventures on this blog over the course of the spring and summer: watch this space!

*S.I.S.S students also have the option of doing a research project instead of a work placement.

About Chris Foster

I am a Teaching Associate and PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences. My main interests are in birds and insects, but in the good old-fashioned spirit of natural history I try to keep an open mind and open eyes.
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