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Conservation and Tourism - MSc


Tourism is the world's largest industry and nature and wildlife tourism is the fastest growing sector of the industry. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that nature tourism follows the principles of sustainability, by minimising impacts on natural environments, contributing to protected area management and also benefiting local people.



The MSc in Conservation and Tourism offers you a critical engagement with the subject of conservation and tourism, not only by exploring the wide range of environmental, social and economic impacts, but also through considering difficult questions that we might ask ourselves about our role as conservationists. For instance, in relation to the underlying values we might introduce into different cultures around the world as part of our ‘mission’, and what the historical roots and repercussions of these might be.

This programme is relevant to the work of NGOs, consultancy firms and contractors, tour operators, conservation managers, international agencies and donors.

About The Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE)

DICE is Britain’s leading research and postgraduate training centre dedicated to conserving biodiversity, as well as the ecological processes that support ecosystems and people.

We focus on combining natural and social sciences to understand complex conservation issues and design effective interventions to conserve biodiversity. Our staff have outstanding international research profiles, yet integrate this with considerable on-the-ground experience working in collaboration with conservation agencies around the world. This blend of expertise ensures that our programmes deliver the skills and knowledge that are essential components of conservation implementation.

Our taught Master’s programmes cover topics in conservation management, policy, ecotourism and sustainable natural resource use. The research degree programmes (MSc by Research and PhD) encourage you to undertake original, high-quality research, which culminates in the submission of a thesis. Please visit our website for new programmes that may be under development that further integrate conservation policy and practice.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Anthropology and Conservation was ranked 10th for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research impact and research power.

An impressive 94% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure

The MSc consists of six months of coursework and five months of research. The optional modules allow you the flexibility to devise a pathway that suits your specific interests, with an appropriate balance between natural and social sciences.


Please note that not all modules necessarily run every year. Please contact the School for more detailed information on availability.

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

This module is designed to provide students from a diverse range of disciplinary backgrounds with a broad overview of different natural and social science approaches to conservation. It will introduce students to the fundamental concepts that underpin biodiversity management, as well as facilitating the development of professional skills that will enable them to work successfully with individuals/organisations operating across the environmental and conservation sectors. The focus will be on understanding how different disciplinary perspectives can contribute to problem-solving in practice.

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The module will begin with a broad overview of social science approaches to research, highlighting contrasts with standard natural science techniques and focusing on the qualitative-quantitative divide. Subsequent sessions will introduce individual methods such as participant observation, qualitative interviewing, questionnaire surveys and focus groups. Sessions will also be devoted to processing and analysis of qualitative data, but not with statistical analysis of quantitative data, since this will be covered elsewhere in the programmes. Towards the end of the module, we will examine the principles of integrated research design and mixed-methods approaches.

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The curriculum will review the approaches used by natural scientists in the design and analysis of research projects. The principles of experimental design and how these can be applied to field projects will be explained, together with the nature of both quantitative and qualitative data. An introduction to sampling strategies and the role of probability in inferential statistics will lead into the role of descriptive statistics and measures of variability in data exploration. This will be complemented by consideration of the application of both parametric and nonparametric statistics in data analysis (i.e. t-tests, ANOVA, regression, correlation and their nonparametric equivalents), coupled with training in the use of a statistical package to carry out such analyses. Finally, the rules underlying the appropriate presentation of statistical data in research reports will be discussed.

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The dissertation project represents a piece of independent research carried out by the student which is written up as in two reports: a review of relevant literature and a research paper. Before undertaking the research, students are trained in research design and planning, statistical analysis and writing skills. A project supervisor is allocated to each student and students are expected to produce a research plan and budget for their proposed programme of research in conjunction with the supervisor. The programme of research may consist of a literature review, analysis of existing data sets, analysis of newly-collected field or laboratory data, or a combination of these approaches. Students are provided with training in the writing-up of the dissertation which should be submitted in mid-September. The topic of the dissertation must be directly relevant to the programme of study.

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is carried out primarily through coursework with written examinations for some modules. The research dissertation is written up in the format of a paper for publication.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • produce postgraduates equipped to play leading roles in the field of international conservation and biodiversity management
  • develop new areas of teaching in response to the advance of scholarship and practice
  • provide you with opportunities to gain a interdisciplinary perspective on conservation issues through collaborative exchange between DICE and the wider University
  • develop your competence in applying theoretical and methodological skills to the implementation of conservation practice and biodiversity management
  • develop your critical and analytical powers in relation to policy formulation and data analysis and interpretation
  • provide you with the skills to adapt and respond positively to change
  • develop critical, analytical problem-based learning skills and the transferable skills necessary for professional development
  • enhance the development of your interpersonal skills
  • assist you to develop the skills required for both autonomous practice and team-working.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • fundamental ecological concepts and how they apply to conservation biology and biodiversity management
  • conservation at the species, population, community and ecosystem levels
  • fundamental social science perspectives on conservation, and the principles of interdisciplinarity
  • principles and significance of resource economics
  • biodiversity law, policy and legislative frameworks
  • principles and practice involved with sustainable resource use
  • principles and practice involved with managing protected areas for conservation
  • principles of conservation research design, implementation and analysis, including problem-led interdisciplinary approaches
  • principles and practice in conservation, business and rural development.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to marshal ideas and examples into well-organised written and oral presentations
  • critical analysis of case studies
  • reflective evaluation of theoretical and methodological frameworks
  • design, implementation, analysis and write-up of a substantial research project (your Master’s dissertation)
  • linking theory to practice in conservation science and social science.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • field biology skills
  • social science methodologies
  • experimental design and statistics
  • methodologies for analysing and appraising conservation case studies
  • population assessment and assessment of threat status
  • methodologies for estimating sustainable wildlife management
  • methodologies for protected areas management and planning.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • IT: Word, Excel, statistical and modelling programmes, email, bibliographic and web searches
  • presentation skills
  • writing reports and funding proposals
  • time management
  • using a library
  • working in groups
  • the skills to exercise initiative and personal responsibility
  • independent learning skills required for continuing professional development.


DICE programmes combine academic theory with practical field experience to develop graduates who are highly employable within government, NGOs and the private sector.

Our alumni progress into a wide range of organisations across the world. Examples include: consultancy for a Darwin Initiative project in West Sumatra; Wildlife Management Officer in Kenya; Chief of the Biodiversity Unit – UN Environment Programme; Research and Analysis Programme Leader for TRAFFIC; Freshwater Programme Officer, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Head of the Ecosystem Assessment Programme, United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC); Community Based Natural Resource Manager, WWF; Managing Partner, Althelia Climate Fund; and Programme Officer, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

DICE has various long-term study sites around the world, in addition to maintaining an ecology field trials area and field laboratory on the University campus. DICE is part of the School of Anthropology and Conservation, which is well equipped with computing facilities and research laboratories for biological anthropology, ecology, ethnobotany and molecular genetics.

The DICE postgraduate student body is global. Since 1991, there have been over 500 taught MSc graduates from 75 countries, most of whom now have successful full-time conservation careers. The PhD research degree programme has produced over 90 graduates from 27 different countries. Several graduates have gone on to win prestigious international prizes for their outstanding conservation achievements.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings and books. Articles have recently been published in prestigious periodicals including: Nature; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Ecology Letters; Conservation Letters; Conservation Biology; Global Environmental Change.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A good second class honours degree, or better, in a relevant subject; a good honours degree in other subjects together with relevant practical experience.

In exceptional circumstances, DICE admits applicants without a first degree if their professional career and experience shows academic achievement of a high enough standard.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.  Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Worldwide research

Recent or current projects cover topics such as:

  • understanding adaptation to climate change; ringneck parakeets in the UK
  • improved management of socio-ecological landscapes in Western Ghats
  • cost, benefits and trade-offs in creating large conservation areas
  • monitoring population trends in tigers and their prey in Kirinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra
  • chameleon trade and conservation in Madagascar
  • conservation genetics of the critically endangered Seychelles paradise flycatcher
  • traditional knowledge, intellectual property rights and protected area management
  • the economic value of mammals in Britain
  • estimating extinction dates of plants, birds and mammals.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Peter Bennett: Reader in Biodiversity and Evolutionary Ecology

Evolution, ecology and conservation of birds; biodiversity hotspots; life history evolution and extinction risk; marine mammals; wildlife disease.

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Dr Richard Bodmer: Reader in Conservation Ecology

Population dynamics and community ecology of rainforest mammals; community-based conservation, sustainable use, wildlife management in tropical ecosystems.

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Dr Ian Bride: Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity Management

Conservation education; biodiversity management; PA and visitor management; nature tourism; guiding and interpretation; community-based conservation; and restoration ecology.

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Professor Zoe Davies: Professor of Biodiversity Conservation

Conservation planning and practice; conservation financial and investment; urban ecology and human-wildlife interactions; biodiversity and ecosystem service relationships; species and assemblage responses to environmental change (eg, climate and habitat loss/fragmentation).

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Professor Richard Griffiths: Professor of Biological Conservation

Ecology and conservation of amphibians and reptiles; effects of environmental change on threatened species; survey and monitoring protocols for biodiversity.

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Dr Jim Groombridge: Reader in Biodiversity Conservation

Conservation of highly threatened bird species; conservation genetics of small populations; parrot conservation, genetics and biogeography.

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Dr Tatyana Humle: Lecturer in Primate Conservation

Primate conservation and behavioural ecology; ethnoprimatology; cultural primatology; primate rehabilitation and reintroduction; human wildlife conflict and resource competition.

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Professor Douglas MacMillan: Professor of Conservation and Applied Resource Economics

Economics and wildlife conservation; environmental modelling; economics of collaboration in land and wildlife management; forest resource economics.

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Dr David Roberts: Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity Conservation

Species detectability and extinction; international wildlife trade; perception of biodiversity; the response of orchids to climate change; epiphyte community ecology and modelling epiphyte seed dispersal.

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Dr Bob Smith: Senior Research Fellow

Designing conservation landscapes and protected area networks, especially as part of long-term projects in southeast Africa and the English Channel.

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Dr Matthew Struebig: Lecturer in Biological Conservation

Ecology and management of tropical mammals; species response to climate change; biodiversity impacts of land-use change, disturbance and fragmentation; conservation value of degraded lands; oil palm and biodiversity.

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Dr Joseph Tzanopoulos: Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity Conservation

Biodiversity conservation using a landscape approach to assess impacts of policy scenarios; reconciling biodiversity conservation and sustainable development on rural areas; landscape ecology and GIS; conservation policy and governance; agro-ecology and agricultural landscapes.

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The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Conservation and Tourism - MSc at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £12940 £20180
Part-time £6470 £10090

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


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