Primate Behaviour and Conservation

Primate Behaviour and Conservation MSc

Course fees (2018/19 entry)

Option / fee Value
Home/EU full-time annual tuition fee: £8,000
Home/EU part-time tuition fee: n/a
International full time annual tuition fee: £14,450

Course type



Natural Sciences and Psychology

Study mode

Full Time (1 year)

About your course

Learn about primate behaviour, welfare and conservation on this masters course delivered by Liverpool John Moores University. You will be taught by world-leading experts and have access to excellent facilities in the UK and research sites overseas.

  • Complete this masters degree in one year (full time)
  • Delivered by world experts in the field of primate behaviour, welfare and conservation
  • Overseas field trip to Tanzania included in the fees – this is a fantastic opportunity to observe primates in the wild. You will practice and develop advanced skills in behavioural observation, non-invasive sampling of health and welfare indicators and conservation monitoring*
  • State-of-the-art teaching and laboratory facilities (including genetics, drone technology and GIS facilities)
  • Opportunity to design and complete a primate field study abroad using the latest software packages, such as ArcGIS, R, Distance

* The air fare, site accommodation and site costs are paid by Liverpool John Moores University. You will be required to meet other potential costs, such as field clothing, visas and immunisations if required.

I'd recommend the course to anyone looking to work or research primates as a career. The supervisors you'll meet and the experiences are fantastic.

Reece Orton

The trip to Tanzania was a great experience and an amazing insight into doing field work in a remote area.


Introduction to the School

94% of research from LJMU submitted to the REF 2014 in the Anthropology and Development Studies category is considered world-leading or internationally important. This ensures that the curriculum is at the vanguard of development in the field and that you will study alongside leading experts.

The Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology (RCEAP) conducts research at the frontiers of biological anthropology, catalysed by discovery-oriented field research in each of the following research themes:

  • Social behaviour, ecology and conservation
  • Contexts of human evolution
  • Human adaptation and variability
  • Forensic anthropology

We actively engage with the main non-academic audiences for our research in biological anthropology ranging from the general public (both in the UK and internationally) to international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs such as UNEP) and governments (including China and Indonesia).

Social behaviour, ecology and conservation

Research observations gathered in the course of fieldwork investigating the behaviour of endangered animals are being harnessed by national and international governmental agencies to identify the space and environmental resources required for effective conservation programmes around the world.

LJMU research underpins the formulation of conservation programmes, the establishment of game reserves and creation of conservation plans based upon habitat use and current deforestation.

Researchers are currently working with partners such as the:

  • Government of Indonesia
  • International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • plus conservation bodies in the UK, including the North of England Zoological Society, Chester Zoo

In addition, we have close links with Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia, Santa Rosa National Park, Area de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica, ‘Otoch Ma’ax Yetel Kooh’ Nature Reserve, Punta Laguna, Yucatan, Mexico.

We are also developing new techniques to monitor wildlife and helping to embed these in a variety of tropical forest regions. For example, many of the world’s primate species, including our closest relatives, the great apes, are now in imminent danger of extinction in the wild.

Working collaboratively with the Swiss Federal Institute in Zurich, our researchers are using the latest technologies – including unmanned aerial vehicles or conservation drones – in the battle against their extinction in locations in Africa, Asia, and Europe.

One research project focuses on the endangered orang-utans in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. Partners in this project include the:

  • Max Planck Institute
  • the Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme
  • the Sumatran Orang-utan Conservation Programme
  • Universitas Nasional, Indonesia
  • plus a number of universities in the USA and Europe

Contexts of human evolution

Our researchers work at numerous archaeological and palaeontological sites to reconstruct the contexts of human evolution.

One area of research within this theme concentrates on the use of fossil mammals, particularly their postcranial remains, to reconstruct African palaeoenvironments in humans.

This work is helping us to understand the behavioural repertoire of the earliest tool-using hominins. We also examine the contexts of early human activities to determine how hominins behaviourally adapted and responded to their environments.

Our work has significantly added value to these remains, opening up exciting new avenues for palaeoanthropological research.

Human adaption and variability

Our research on human evolution focuses on the biology, appearance and ecology of our human relatives. Unlike much research in this field which investigates evolutionary relationships, our research helps to flesh out the fossils.

This is achieved by modelling form and function in an evolutionary context to obtain reliable reconstructions of the live hominins.

We also have excellent research in dental anthropology and functional morpholology of modern humans and ancient hominins.

Forensic anthropology

Our forensic anthropology team focus on criminal activity on many levels, both local and war or genocide-related. We engage with external users of anatomical standards for identifying human remains and participate in recovery contexts internationally. Our team has experience of facial reconstruction, both in archaeological and in forensic contexts.

Why study this course at LJMU?

Postgraduate knowledge and skills are strongly advised for a career in this dynamic and applied scientific field. You will gain a deep understanding of the literature and latest developments in research, as well as developing critical thinking skills.

The programme will develop your understanding of primate behaviour, so that you have the skills to become a professional primatologist and support a range of in-situ and ex-situ conservation efforts.

Programme leaders have excellent links with partners in industry and fieldsites in Asia, Africa, Central America and the UK. Such connections will give you the opportunity to develop and extend your professional networks during your course.

Your dissertation will demonstrate your aptitude for progressing your career in this discipline. 

Students are encouraged to attend and present their work at national and international conferences, and to publish their research in scientific journals.

Programme outline and structure

This exciting new MSc course covers contemporary issues in primate behaviour, welfare and conservation and will equip you with the latest knowledge and skills required to succeed as a professional researcher.

You will learn about the latest primatology research from active researchers including:

  • Primate behaviour and social systems in the wild
  • Primate conservation issues and main threats to wildlife in-situ
  • Ex-situ conservation efforts in sanctuaries and zoos
  • Job opportunities for primatologists in the UK and abroad

You will also complete a hypotheses-driven research project in the second half of the programme, based on your knowledge of primate behaviour, welfare and conservation developed during the first half of the course.

You will learn how to convert an idea for a research study into a practical plan, including how to:

  • identify field sites and funding sources
  • write a grant proposal (from funding experts)
  • make a budget
  • think through the logistical issues of conducting research in challenging environments

Your lectures and seminars will be delivered by world experts in the field of primate behaviour and conservation. The quality of research and teaching during the course mean that you will graduate with cutting edge knowledge and access to a host of international professional networks.

What you will study on this degree

Please see guidance below on core modules for further information on what you will study.

  • ​Primate Behaviour and Conservation
  • Research Methods
  • Survey, Mapping and Field Skills*
  • Dissertation
  • Contemporary Methods in Primatology
  • Field Methods in Primate Behavioural Ecology

* Includes an overseas field trip to Tanzania, which is included in your course fees. This is a fantastic opportunity to observe primates in the wild. You will practice and develop advanced skills in behavioural observation, non-invasive sampling of health and welfare indicators and conservation monitoring. The field trip air fare, site accommodation and site costs are paid by Liverpool John Moores University. You will be required to meet other potential costs, such as field clothing, visas and immunisations if required.

Further guidance on modules

The information listed in the section entitled ‘What you will study’ is an overview of the academic content of the programme that will take the form of either core or option modules. Modules are designated as core or option in accordance with professional body requirements and internal Academic Framework review, so may be subject to change. Students will be required to undertake modules that the University designates as core and will have a choice of designated option modules. Additionally, option modules may be offered subject to meeting minimum student numbers.

Please email if you require further guidance or clarification.

How will I be assessed?

The degree emphasises practice-based learning through lectures, seminars, workshops, student-lead discussion groups and fieldwork.

The programme is offered full-time. Self-guided study is a key requirement at MSc level, so you will have flexibility in how you organise your study time outside of contact hours. You will be able to discuss your individual requirements with your personal tutor.

Programme assessment includes written reports, verbal presentations and practical tests.

Staff research interests

The academic team is well established in the field of primate behaviour, primate behavioural ecology, welfare and conservation and UAV technology.

Current research at LJMU is funded by grants from Google, MRC NC3Rs, PSGB, ASAB, UFAW, UNEP, CRC/KMDA.

Emily Bethell is on the Council for the Primate Society of Great Britain, previously conducted research with wild primates in Uganda, and is currently funded by the MRC NC3Rs to develop non-invasive measures of welfare in both free-ranging and captive macaques in Puerto Rico and the UK.

Serge Wich is the co-founder of, and chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), which is run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He conducts research on great apes in Asia and Africa.

Entry requirements (Home)

If you have an undergraduate degree :

  • A good second class honours degree in a relevant scientific discipline such as biology, conservation, animal behaviour, zoology or ecology, supported by an academic reference
  • Plus you must provide a satisfactory reference from a suitable person, such as your employer or line manager

If you have non-standard qualifications:

  • Experience is accepted on a case by case basis
  • If you do not have an honours degree in a relevant subject area your application may still be considered
  • Professional experience, publications, written reports, CPD activities and other suitable evidence of accomplishment will be taken into account.
  • You will also be interviewed by the Programme Leader
  • Plus you must provide a satisfactory reference from a suitable person, such as your employer or line manager

Entry requirements (International)

LJMU welcomes applications from international students. In addition to normal entry requirements, you will be expected to demonstrate a very good level of English language competence, for example an IELTS score of 6.0-6.5 or equivalent. Please note: specific courses may require higher levels of English language competence. If you have applied to study a full-time taught Masters, MRes, MPhil or PhD at LJMU, you should check if you require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme or ATAS certificate. It can take four to six weeks to receive an ATAS certificate, so please make sure you apply as early as possible. You can find out more on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. Alternatively, contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for guidance. Please note: international students entering on a Tier 4 visa cannot study part time. Students entering the UK on alternate types of visa may be in a position to study part time. Please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for further details before making your application.  In order to obtain a visa you will also need to show evidence that the money required to cover your tuition fees and living expenses has been in your bank account for at least 28 days prior to submitting your visa application. So please make sure that your finances are in place before applying. For more details, go to our international website

For advice on any aspect of the application process, please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team.

Application and selection

To study this programme you must be motivated towards and have a passion for primate behaviour, welfare or conservation (as evidenced by engagements in local or international conservation activities, nature clubs and campaigns for example).

You must also show that you are independent, creative, can think outside the box, are practical and be interested in technology - such as cameras, recorders and drone technology.

Will I be interviewed?



6.5 (Minimum of 5.5 in each component)


58-64 (Min. 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)

Is RPL accepted on this programme?


Please Note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.

Financial support

Tuition fees

All students enrolled on postgraduate taught programmes at LJMU are liable to pay an annual tuition fee. You can opt to pay your tuition fees in full at the start of each academic year or in instalments. If you need advice about how to pay your tuition fees, please email LJMU’s Student Funding Team.

Funding sources

There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From Postgraduate Masters Loans and Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs) to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.

Graduate employment

Completing this MSc degree in Primate Behaviour and Conservation will give you the skills and experience to:

  • pursue an academic career
  • work for national or international wildlife conservation NGOs
  • work for national or international environmental consultancy companies
  • work for environmental government bodies
  • work in zoos, wildlife parks, sanctuaries or reserves

International Study

International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.

Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.

Please note: UK visa restrictions mean that international students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis.

Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting for more information and advice.


LJMU has launched a range of generous international scholarships for students enrolling at the University.

These prestigious scholarships take the form of tuition fee waivers and are available for outstanding international students applying for taught postgraduate programmes and research degrees.

You will need to complete an additional application form in order to be considered for these scholarships. Full eligibility criteria and the online application form are available here:

Applications for these scholarships are welcomed from:

  • new international applicants
  • current LJMU international students hoping to progress onto postgraduate study at the University
  • LJMU international alumni

The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.
Further information on the terms and conditions of any offer made, our admissions policy and the complaints and appeals process.

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