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Wildlife Conservation - BSc (Hons)

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The world is experiencing a conservation crisis - animals and plants face extinction through habitat loss, over-exploitation, pollution, disease, invasive species and global climate change. Yet we know that wildlife and biodiversity are vital for human survival. On this degree you analyse the facts and gain an understanding of where we are now, putting you in a great position to offer innovative ways forward.

Overview

The BSc in Wildlife Conservation provides comprehensive training in natural science aspects of conservation (including genetics, ecology, wildlife management and species reintroductions) together with training in the human dimensions of conservation (for example environmental economics, international biodiversity regulation, the politics of climate change and work with rural communities).

The programme includes a significant lab-based and field-based component. Additionally, there is an opportunity to conduct a research project in the UK or abroad at the end of the second year. Recent locations include South Africa, Borneo and the Peruvian Amazon.

Queen’s Anniversary Prize

The University of Kent was awarded a highly prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for the work of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE).

DICE leads projects in over 50 countries, including research on human wellbeing and nature, human-elephant conflict, oil palm deforestation, online illegal trade in protected species, national park planning and ecotourism projects and the mapping of biodiversity through eDNA.

Our degree programme

In your first year, you are introduced to biological, social and environmental sciences and the foundational skills required for wildlife conservation and management. Optional modules allow you to expand on areas of particular interest, which may include: Animals, People and Plants; Foundations of Biological Anthropology; Contested Environments; or Sustainable Land-Use Systems. You also benefit from practical learning through lab-based sessions and a number of visits away from the lecture room.

In your second and third years, you take compulsory modules that further your skills and understanding, such as: Spatial Analysis in Wildlife Conservation; Data Analysis for Conservation Biologists; Methods and Research Design in Contemporary Conservation Science.

You also enjoy a wide and varied choice of modules enabling you to expand your perspectives or focus more on the natural or social science aspects of conservation. Optional modules may include: Human Wildlife Conflict and Resource Competition; Tropical Ecology and Conservation; Primate Behaviour and Ecology; Evolutionary Genetics and Conservation; Creative Conservation; Conservation and Communities; Human Ecology; Global Biodiversity and Species Conservation.

In your final year, you undertake a research project, choosing your topic with your project supervisor. Students often undertake their field research abroad with many joining our annual expedition to our research vessel on the Peruvian Amazon.

Student view

Wildlife Conservation student Ellie talks about her course at Kent.

Field trips

Due to the practical nature of this degree, there is a strong emphasis on fieldwork. We aim to undertake two UK field trips per term. Potential excursions (linked to specific modules) may include:

  • Howletts Wild Animal Park
  • Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve
  • King's Wood
  • Ashford Community Woodland
  • Powell Cotton Museum
  • Monks Risborough nature reserve
  • Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Jersey Zoo).

Students on the Tropical Ecology and Conservation module spend two weeks in a field centre in Borneo. You'll explore the beautiful, picturesque rainforest before venturing deeper into the jungle to the field studies site. The Centre is located in one of the most important wetlands for nature conservation and climate change mitigation in Southeast Asia, but continues to be threatened by development. You work on the front line between managing the needs of the community and the impact on biodiversity.

These opportunities may change from year to year and may incur additional costs. See the funding tab for more information.

Year in professional practice

If you want to stand out from other graduates in today's global job market, spending time in the work place as part of your degree is invaluable. It demonstrates your ability to adapt to new situations, your sensitivity to other cultures and your desire to stretch yourself.

You can extend your degree into a four-year programme by adding a work placement between the second and final years. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent, but certain conditions apply. For details, see Wildlife Conservation with a Year in Professional Practice - BSc.

Read about the experiences of our students:

  • Katrine Burford-Bradshaw - follow her blog about her experiences in India
  • Toby Scriven - testimonial about his year working with elephants at Chester Zoo
  • Will Clothier - video about his work with rhino in South Africa, you can also follow him on Instagram

Study resources

The School of Anthropology and Conservation has excellent teaching resources including dedicated computing facilities. Other resources include:

  • conservation genetics laboratories
  • ecology laboratory
  • field trials area and field laboratory
  • refurbished computer suite with 32 PCs with HD screens
  • upgraded visual anthropology suite with 16 iMacs
  • an integrated audio-visual system to help provide stimulating lectures
  • student social spaces.

Extra activities

The Conservation Society is run by Kent students and is a good way to meet other students on your course in an informal way. The Conservation Society also works with local organisations and charities providing lots of opportunities for volunteering, community work and outings.

The School of Anthropology and Conservation puts on many events that you are welcome to attend. We host two public lectures a year, the Stirling Lecture and the DICE Lecture, which bring current ideas in anthropology and conservation to a wider audience. We are delighted that these events attract leading conservation figures from around the world.

Each term, there are also seminars and workshops discussing current research in anthropology, conservation and human ecology.

Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology

This programme is taught by members of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) research centre. DICE, in the School of Anthropology and Conservation at Kent, is a leading international research and training centre dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems around the world.

DICE was founded in 1989 with a clear mission: to conserve biodiversity and the ecological processes that support ecosystems and people. It does so by developing capacity and improving conservation management and policy through high-impact research. That is why DICE is in a School that does research and teaching in anthropology alongside conservation.

One component of DICE’s work is to train a new, interdisciplinary generation of conservationists who think innovatively about the challenges that lie ahead. As undergraduates, you are part of a dynamic and growing community of conservationists whose work spans all major regions of the world.

Entry requirements

You are more than your grades

At Kent we look at your circumstances as a whole before deciding whether to make you an offer to study here. Find out more about how we offer flexibility and support before and during your degree.

Entry requirements

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Some typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. Please also see our general entry requirements.

If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes. Please note that international fee-paying students who require a Student visa cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

Please note that meeting the typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee that you will receive an offer.

  • medal-empty

    A level

    BBB including one of Biology, Geography, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Psychology, Geology, Physics, Maths or any Joint Science at grade B or above.

  • medal-empty GCSE

    Mathematics grade C / 4

  • medal-empty Access to HE Diploma

    The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

    If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

  • medal-empty BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

    Distinction, Distinction, Merit in Countryside Management, Animal Management or Applied Science. Other subjects will be considered on a case-by-case basis

  • medal-empty International Baccalaureate

    IB Diploma 34 points overall or 15 points at Higher, including 5 at HL or 6 at SL in Biology, Geography, Environmental Science, Psychology, Geology, Chemistry, Physics or Maths.

  • International Foundation Programme

    Pass all components of the University of Kent International Foundation Programme with a 60% overall average including 60% in LZ045 Life Sciences (1 & 2), 60% in LZ036 Academic Skills (and 50% in LZ013 Maths and Statistics if you do not hold GCSE Maths at 4/C or equivalent).

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

If you need to improve your English language standard as a condition of your offer, you can attend one of our pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes before starting your degree programme. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.

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Course structure

Duration: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘elective’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 3

Compulsory modules currently include

Conservationists must continually analyse relevant and topical issues in a broad, real-world context. This includes understanding contemporary research, critically evaluating its ecological, evolutionary and interdisciplinary basis, and using this information to inform effective solutions to conservation problems that are embedded in social, political and economic reality. In this module, students will use and apply knowledge/skills gained throughout their degree programme during in-depth discussions of how current research programmes, as presented at the weekly DICE seminars, fit into the wider conservation context. In addition, they will write up these evaluations as a series of 'News and Views' style commentary articles, as published in the top international journal Nature.

Find out more about DI518

The module is considered as an important element of Wildlife Conservation undergraduate training. The opportunity to engage in personal research is seen as an essential element of academic training in all disciplines. The particular skills necessary to undertake research, whether practical fieldwork or laboratory work or a desk-based study, can only be taught through the medium of practically orientated investigative tasks. The principle objective in the research project is to assist students in gaining insight into the organisation, analysis and communication of research. The approved investigation may be novel i.e. one that has not previously been carried out, or it may repeat previously executed work for comparative or control purposes

Find out more about DI522

Optional modules may include

Human-wildlife conflicts and resource competition imply costs on human social, economic or cultural life and on the ecological, social or cultural life of wildlife concerned, often to the detriment of conservation objectives and socio-economic realities. This module aims to introduce students to the magnitude and multidisciplinary dimensions of human-wildlife conflicts (HWC) and resource competition, and current approaches and challenges in mitigating and preventing HWC. We will explore how theoretical frameworks for approaching HWC are most often confined within disciplinary boundaries and how more holistic approaches can better equip conservationists and other professionals in dealing with the issue. Using a variety of teaching and learning methods, students will learn about issues involved in determining and analysing HWC, and planning, implementing and evaluating conflict mitigation or prevention schemes.

Find out more about DI531

The driving causes of biodiversity loss are not just ecological, but also political, economic and cultural, and conservationists need to acquire the knowledge and skills to address broader social contexts. This module aims to introduce students to cutting-edge debates about the place of local people in biodiversity conservation, and provide them with an overview of the essential role that the social sciences play in the analysis of environmental issues. Objectives of the module are to provide students with a broad conceptual understanding of the social context of conservation; knowledge of the history of conservation approaches towards local communities; familiarity with key issues in the implementation of community conservation; and a critical approach to analysis of the current conservation-preservation debate.

Find out more about DI546

This module examines today's cutting-edge techniques that are available to wildlife biologists attempting to save some of the world's most critically endangered species from extinction. The module exposes students directly to world experts in this field through a two-day residential field trip to the Durrell Conservation Academy on Jersey where formal presentations and group activities together with behind-the-scenes tours of state-of-the-art captive-breeding facilities provide a first-hand experience of species conservation on a global scale. The module then examines a number of cross-cutting themes relevant to recovering endangered species, including the management of invasive species, leadership of species recovery programmes, island endemic species, species of extreme rarity, reintroduction biology and managing infectious disease in conservation programmes. Throughout the module iconic case histories are examined and used as a way to consider the reasons why some programmes are successful whilst others fail. The consideration of topics and case studies leads to a reappraisal of particular approaches to species conservation such as institutional priority-setting, field infrastructures and leadership styles which tomorrow's wildlife biologists will need in order to restore endangered species in the future.

Find out more about DI521

Genetics forms the basis of the diversity of life on earth, and is fundamental to biodiversity, speciation, evolutionary ecology, and has become recognized to be vital to the successful restoration of endangered species. An understanding of the evolutionary processes that foster biodiversity and genetic diversity is essential for modern conservation biologists, across timescales ranging from a few generations to millions of years. Students will gain an understanding of the importance of genetic processes and evolutionary mechanisms within the context of conservation.

Find out more about DI503

This module will inform students how climate has influenced the diversity of life on Earth, from past to present, and its likely future impacts. We will begin with a summary of the physical science basis of contemporary climate change and the role that anthropogenic factors have played since the commencement of the industrial era. We will then explore the biological and ecological impacts of climate change on individual organisms, populations and communities, with particular emphasis given to understanding how species are responding. The module will then explore how conservation biologists are using particular interventions to ameliorate the most harmful and destabilising effects of climate change. From a more general perspective, the social, economic and political ways in which climate change can be mitigated will be assessed.

Find out more about DI501

The module will examine the way in which biodiversity conservation activities are widely implemented in practice and on the ground, particularly by organisations for which conservation is not the primary focus. As such, relevant regulatory and voluntary principles that govern the conservation actions of businesses and governments will be explored, alongside some of the more influential multilateral conservation policies.

The pathways by which scientific evidence is integrated into policy and practice will be illustrated using some case studies. Consultation processes, as well as the role of government and non-government organisations in formulating and implementing policy and practice will be explored.

Ultimately, the goal of the module is to better equip students to practice conservation in a non-conservation organisational setting once they have completed their programmes.

Find out more about DI545

The diversity and complexity of primate sociality is reflected in the diversity and complexity of their communication strategies. This module complements the module ANTB5800 (SE580) 'Primate Behaviour & Ecology' by examining the ways in which primates communicate with one another through olfactory, tactile, visual, and acoustic signals. We will address fundamental questions in animal communication including: Is it appropriate to characterize such communication in terms of information transfer? How does communication evolve? What maintains signal honesty, and under what conditions can deceptive communication can evolve? The module will cover the physical and biological bases of signal production and perception. We will explore the extent to which studies of primate communication can provide a window into their minds. Finally, we will delve into the question of the relevance of primate communication for understanding the evolution of human language.

Find out more about SE557

This module introduces the disciplines of animal behaviour and behavioural ecology with particular reference to non-human primates. We look at the patterns and principles that can be generalised from the variation in behaviour and ecology across species, combining established findings with the latest research. The module emphasises the importance of direct observation of animal/primate behaviour – introducing the necessary methods – and the use of theoretical models with which to make sense of these data. Topics covered include interactions between primates and their environments – primates as foragers, predators and prey – as well as the nature and evolution of primate societies, cognition and communication, and social and reproductive behaviour within groups. The module makes particular use of multi-media technology to allow students to see and hear primates in their natural habitats.

Find out more about SE580

This module will provide the fundamental theoretical and comparative perspective that lies at heart of biology, with a particular focus on the order Primates. Particular attention will be paid to the evolutionary history of the primates and comparative primate (skeletal) anatomy, both placed in an evolutionary ecological context (e.g. a consideration of dentition in relation to diet and feeding; post-cranial anatomy in relation to locomotion and phylogenetic trends). The module covers latest discoveries and developments in these areas, engaging students with primary literature. Extensive use of casts of primate skeletal material will provide hands-on 'experiential' learning. The module will provide a detailed treatment of natural and sexual selection as key components of evolutionary theory that shape the adaptations of organisms, and the way adaptations are used to make sense of the diversity of organisms with particular reference to the primates.

Find out more about SE582

If behaviour has been shaped by natural selection, then those behaviours must have some biological basis. This module explores the extent to which hormonal mechanisms provide such a biological explanation of behaviour in humans and our primate cousins. Students will learn the basics of the endocrine system, and consider both how hormones affect behaviour and how behaviour may affect hormones. This module will examine the role that hormones play in the differentiation of behaviours between females and males, as well as the evidence that sexual, parental, aggressive, and affiliative behaviours are influenced by hormones. Students will thus complete this module with a greater appreciation of the hormonal underpinnings of the complex sociality that characterizes humans and other primates.

Find out more about SE605

Environmental issues have become central matters of public concern and political contention. In this module we shall consider explanations for the rise and social distribution of environmental concern as well as the forms of organisation that have been adopted to address environmental questions, including the emergence of global environmental issues and the responses to them. The development of environmental protest, environmental movements and Green parties are central concerns, but we shall also consider the 'greening' of established political parties and political agenda. Is it realistic to expect the development of a global environmental movement adequate to the task of tackling global environmental problems. The approach is broadly comparative and examples will be taken from Europe (east and west), North America, Australasia and south-east Asia.

Find out more about SO525

You study the diversity of animal life throughout evolution, including elements of functional anatomy and physiology such as circulation and gaseous exchange, the digestive system, the nervous system and reproduction.

Topics:

Comparative physiology - in this section the diversity of different physiological systems will be studied including circulation, gaseous exchange, feeding and digestion, excretion, nervous tissue and the senses, reproduction and immunology.

Form and Function - in this section a diverse range of taxonomic groups and their characteristics will be studied to understand the relationship between structure and function. How these characteristics equip the animal to survive and succeed in its particular environment will be explored.

Find out more about BI546

Plant specific features of cellular organisation and processes – cell wall synthesis, cell division, endoreduplication, plasmadesmata

Photosynthesis – mechanism and regulation of photosynthesis, photorespiration, C3, C4 and CAM.

Plant hormones and signalling – e.g. auxins, gibberellins, cytokinins etc and their roles in tropism, photoperiodism, and flowering.

Adaptation and stress response – environmental stress, acclimatisation and adaptation.

Find out more about BI547

The aim of this module is to introduce students to recent developments in the environmental geography focused on the ideas of natural capital, ecosystem services and sustainable landscape management and thus a module set firmly with the socio-ecological tradition of human geography . The module will trace the traditions of this gradual harmonisation of resource management discourse and how it plays out conceptually, empirically and at the interface of environmental science, policy and practice. The module will also set this tradition in a critical frame, drawing back to underlying assumptions about the idea of nature, and the relationship between nature, economy, human development and well-being. It will also have a practical edge by covering issues of environmental citizenship and the ethical, procedural and practical rationales that underpin different forms and levels of engagement in environmental decision making.

Find out more about GEOG5003

Fees

The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home full-time £9250
  • EU full-time £15400
  • International full-time £20500
  • Home part-time £4625
  • EU part-time £7700
  • International part-time £10250

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

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.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

Field trips

One day trips that are compulsory to a module are financially funded by the School. Optional or longer trips may require support funding from attendees.

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of A*AA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

Teaching and assessment

In our most recent national Teaching Excellence Framework, teaching at Kent was judged to be Gold rated. Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Our teaching is research-led as all our staff are active in their fields. In addition to lectures and seminars, we run laboratory-based practicals and field trips. You also have an opportunity to conduct a field-based research thesis in your final year. This gives you practical experience of developing a research proposal and research questions, finding appropriate methods, conducting research, analysing and interpreting results, writing up a full research project and giving an oral presentation, all with the support of a dedicated project supervisor.

We offer you the opportunity to conduct your research project either in the UK or abroad – for example, many students have taken part in the annual expedition to the Peruvian Amazon, one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth.

Most modules are assessed by 50% coursework and 50% unseen exam. Some modules are assessed only by coursework, which takes a variety of forms, including essays, short answer tests, oral presentations, laboratory reports, individual and team projects, field reports, commentaries, management plans and statistical analyses.

Contact hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

Our aims are to provide students with:

  • knowledge of the science and practicalities of wildlife conservation, including the biological, social and economic aspects of the subject
  • an understanding of theoretical issues, methods and practical tools
  • awareness of sustainability and wildlife exploitation
  • knowledge of wildlife conservation at local, national and international levels
  • the abilities necessary for professional development such as analytical problem-solving, interpersonal skills, autonomous practice and team-working
  • the knowledge to play a leading role in the field of wildlife conservation
  • innovative opportunities for fieldwork.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • ecological and biodiversity-related concepts
  • species, habitat and landscape conservation
  • practical understanding of wildlife conservation
  • principles of sustainable use and wildlife management
  • the relationship between local communities and conservation
  • issues and practices when managing wildlife within or outside protected areas
  • the role of behavioural ecology in conservation
  • genetics in conservation issues
  • wildlife laws and legislative frameworks
  • the role of statistics in conservation.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual abilities in the following:

  • learning and study
  • critical and analytical methods
  • expressing ideas, in writing and orally
  • design, implementation, analysis and write-up of a research project
  • ability to interpret scholarly publications
  • how to formulate and test theories
  • presenting a structured and logical argument.

Subject-specific skills

You gain wildlife conservation skills in the following:

  • field biology (such as surveys and sampling)
  • social science (such as interviews and questionnaires)
  • research design, statistics
  • analysing case studies
  • environmental education
  • how to evaluate sustainability of resource use
  • management of protected areas.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in the following:

  • IT
  • presentations
  • writing reports and proposals
  • time management
  • using library resources
  • independent research
  • group work.

Teaching Excellence Framework

All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

TEF Gold logo

Independent rankings

Anthropology at Kent was ranked 10th in The Guardian University Guide 2021.

For graduate prospects, Anthropology at Kent was ranked 5th in The Guardian University Guide 2021.

Careers

The conservation and environmental sector is an expanding area for employment opportunities.  Potential employers include local, regional and national UK government departments, voluntary organisations and the private sector, as well as international conservation and environmental organisations. Many students also go on to pursue postgraduate studies.

Graduate destinations  

Our recent graduates have found work in:

  • ecological surveying
  • habitat management
  • species conservation
  • environmental education
  • conservation planning 
  • conservation policy
  • international consultancy
  • community-based conservation projects

Help finding a job

The School offers an employability programme aimed at helping you develop the skills you'll need to look for a job.  This includes workshops, mentoring and an online blog featuring tips, advice from employers, job adverts, internship information and volunteering opportunities.

The University’s friendly Careers and Employability Service offers advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Career-enhancing skills

As a conservation student, you develop expertise in understanding and managing wildlife and biodiversity in a sustainable way. You'll gain skills in gathering and collecting information, analysing data, exploring and communicating challenging ideas. Alongside such specialist skills, you also develop the transferable skills graduate employers look for, including the ability to:

  • think critically 
  • communicate your ideas and opinions 
  • work independently and as part of a team.

You can also gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.

Apply for this course

If you are from the UK or Ireland, you must apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not from the UK or Ireland, you can choose to apply through UCAS or directly on our website.

Find out more about how to apply

All applicants

Apply through UCAS

International applicants

Apply now to Kent

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

Enquire online for full-time study

Enquire online for part-time study

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk

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