Wildlife Conservation and UAV Technology

Wildlife Conservation and Drone Applications 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

Explore contemporary wildlife conservation on this Masters. The course is delivered by world-leading experts in wildlife conservation and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV/drone technology). You will be able to learn fieldskills during an overseas field trip and will have the opportunity to conduct your own conservation research project.

  • Complete this masters degree in one year (full time)
  • Delivered by world-leading experts in the field of wildlife conservation and drone technology
  • LJMU is the only UK university to offer a Masters degree in cutting edge drone technology applications for wildlife conservation
  • Overseas field trip to Tanzania included in the fees – this is a fantastic opportunity to observe chimpanzees in the wild. You will practice and develop advanced skills in behavioural observation, non-invasive sampling of health and welfare indicators and conservation monitoring*
  • World-class teaching and laboratory facilities (including drone technology, genetics and GIS facilities)
  • Opportunity to design and complete a wildlife conservation study abroad using the latest software packages, such as ArcGIS, R, and 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.

In a fast-changing world it is essential that conservation workers use technology such as drone technology to obtain data for their projects in a cost-efficient way.

This Masters is unique in that it is taught by both wildlife conservation experts as well as drone technology specialists.

Introduction to the School

Around 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.

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

  • Max Plank 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?

Wildlife conservation is an exciting field of study that has important implications for the way in which we manage our world. With an increasing global population, conserving our wildlife becomes more complicated and conservationists are increasingly using technology such as UAVs to help them with their efforts.

This Masters will provide you with advanced skills in using drone technology for wildlife conservation research and will give you the specialist skills to maintain and operate drone technology as well as using sensors to obtain and analyse data.

A postgraduate degree is highly recommended for a career in this field so that you can demonstrate the necessary theoretical background and practical skills to work in this field. 

LJMU boasts world-class teaching and laboratory facilities (including state-of the art drone technology, genetics and GIS facilities) which you will be able to use during the course. You will also have 24 hour computer access and access to specialist software. 

 In addition, the LJMU library has an extensive collection of online and hardcopy book, journal and internet resources related to studying Wildlife Conservation.

Programme outline and structure

This unique Masters course covers contemporary issues in wildlife conservation with a strong focus on providing you with a thorough understanding of the theoretical and practical skills you will need to become a professional in this exciting field.

You will develop an hypotheses-driven study based on the latest wildlife conservation literature.

Converting your idea for a study into a practical plan will involve:

  • learning how to write a grant proposal (from funding experts)
  • making a budget
  • thinking through the logistical issues of conducting research in challenging environments

You will learn how to operate drone technology for wildlife conservation research and how to analyse the data obtained using these systems; providing you with a unique skillset.

The academic staff leading this course conduct research in this area. Your programme leaders uphold a wide range of international and national connections that can provide exciting opportunities for you during and after the course. You will have the opportunity to conduct fieldwork at international sites and make career-long connections. 

We will also encourage you to become members of the learned societies, such as Society of Wildlife Conservation.

What you will study on this degree

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

  • ​Survey, Mapping and Field Skills*
    Teaches the understanding and application of theoretical, practical and analytical skills in primatological or other wildlife fieldwork.
  • Drone Technology and Operations
    Provides a comprehensive overview of drone technology at a conceptual and practical level. Special emphasis is placed on being able to specify, select, install and deploy sub-systems to fulfil the requirements of an application.
  • Wildlife Conservation
    Covers both theoretical and practical skills in wildlife conservation.
  • Research Methods
    Provides extensive training in generic research knowledge and statistical techniques for the Natural Sciences as part of the preparation for the MSc dissertation.
  • Dissertation
    Requires you to conduct independent scientific research and make a major contribution in a chosen subject area through a supervised programme of individual study. The findings will be presented in the form of a written report.
    * Includes an overseas field trip to Tanzania, which is included in your course fees. This is a fantastic opportunity to observe chimpanzees 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 courses@ljmu.ac.uk if you require further guidance or clarification.

How will I be assessed?

There is a strong emphasis on practice-based learning through lectures, seminars, workshops, student-lead discussion groups and fieldwork.

While the programme is offered full-time, self-guided study is a key requirement at MSc level, so there is a degree of flexibility. You will be able to discuss your individual requirements with your personal tutor. Assessment will develop your written report, verbal presentation and practical skills. There will be ample opportunities during research group meetings to discuss topics and you will be able to access 1-1 meetings throughout the year. Tutors on this programme have an open door policy so that you will have the opportunity to discuss questions and projects.

Staff research interests

The academic team is well established in the conservation and UAV technology field and has a growing reputation in the UK. Programme Leader, Serge Wich, is the co-founder of www.conservationdrones.org

School staff are often invited to provide seminars at other UK universities and there are a growing number of collaborations with UK research institutes and other organizations.

You will also be able to access fieldwork at international field sites through staff projects and contacts. 

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
  • If you also have work experience we also require an employer reference

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 conservation (as evidenced by engaments in local or international conservation activities, nature clubs, 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, 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

As a graduate from the programme you will be able to pursue a career working for national or international wildlife conservation NGO’s, national or international environmental consultancy companies, and environmental government bodies. The course is also excellent preparation for conservation research and academia.

Staff involved in the course have a wide range of international and national connections that can provide exciting opportunities for students during and after the course. 

You will be able to attend lectures and seminars by world experts in the field of wildlife conservation and make professional connections. 

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 www.ljmu.ac.uk/international 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: www.ljmu.ac.uk/international

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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