Newcastle University: Ecological Consultancy

InstitutionNewcastle University View institution profile
Department School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Study type Taught


Our Ecological Consultancy MSc gives you knowledge, specialised technical skills and professional awareness. It will prepare you for a career as an ecological consultant or in other environmental roles. The course has a professional focus, preparing you for the workplace.

We equip you with key skills which will enable you to pursue careers in ecology, including:
•Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing
•experimental and survey design
•wildlife surveying
•wildlife legislation and natural history
•Environmental Impact Assessment.

Graduates of this course have an excellent track record of gaining employment in the environmental sector. Within one year of graduation 18 of the 19 students from the 2011-12 cohort were employed, most in the environmental sector and the majority with ecological consultancy companies.

Examples of recent graduate destinations include students now working in ecological jobs for:
•Mott MacDonald
•BSG Ecology
•E3 Ecology.

We provide a link to cutting-edge research that feeds into ecological consultancy, eg:
•research projects on black grouse and wind farms. Paper in review with the Journal of Applied Ecology
•noise and bird behaviour. Paper in revision in PLOS ONE
•contracts for the Scottish Bird Wind Farm Steering Group. The class of 2013-14 helped collect data for one of these contracts. They were authors on the paper which is being written up on the data they collected.

Our staff:

The Degree Programme Director, Professor John Bythell, is an active research ecologist. He has 27 years of experience of ecological consultancy work, particularly in Environmental Impact Assessment and International Development. His research focuses on wildlife diseases, mainly in tropical marine environments such as coral reefs.

Professor Mark Whittingham is a bird ecologist who contributes significantly to the degree programme. He has a wide network of contacts that can help you gain experience in this area. As a senior editor of the Journal of Applied Ecology he is aware of a wide range of ecological science and how this relates to ecological consultancy work.

Dr Phil McGowan provides international expertise for students wishing to pursue international projects and has extensive global contacts in the conservation sphere. He is heavily involved in work with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


The course is taught and based on the Newcastle campus. It is delivered mostly in two week blocks but initially several modules run concurrently over a six week period.

The course consists of:
•100 credits of taught work (October to March)
•80 credit project (April to August).

Contact and independent study times vary depending on the module. We have a good range of practical elements in computer (eg GIS or statistics) and field classes (eg natural history skills or survey skills).


Each Ecological Consultancy project runs in conjunction with an industrial client. These tend to be consultancies or NGOs, eg:
•E3 Ecology
•BSG Ecology
•Baker Consultants
•Denny Ecology
•Mott MacDonald
•Natural England
•Northumberland Natural History Society
•Durham Wildlife Trust.

Ecological consultants contribute to the course via informal talks. For example, E3 Ecology run a workshop in induction week where company directors discuss how to get into the industry.

Practitioners with extensive UK wildlife legislation and wildlife management experience teach on some modules.


We are in the process of applying for accreditation from the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).


The School of Biology has an outstanding range of facilities to support our research and teaching, including:
•fully equipped laboratories
•a new field station with state of the art facilities for teaching and research

You will also have access, by arrangement, to the University's Cockle Park farm.


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