Ecology students

Duration: 1 year full-time
Start date: October 2017
LocationSilwood Park
ECTS: 90 credits

This course is now open to applications for 2017 entry.

This MRes is designed for students with a passion for the diversity of life on earth, and who wish to be trained in cutting-edge biological research.

About the course


New technologies such as next-generation DNA sequencing are revolutionising biology. There are also huge amounts of biodiversity data to be collated and meta-analysed to respond to urgent research needs in a world of rapid global changes.

This course will offer an intensive one-year full-time programme designed to provide you with postgraduate-level training in research skills.

Uniquely, it will start with seven-week intensive training modules in the latest developments of informatics and genomics for whole-organism research.

This is followed by a single nine-month research project in the Division of Ecology and Evolution, which may be jointly hosted by one of our peer-institutes such as the:

  • Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
  • the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • the Natural History Museum

Project opportunities include genetics, conservation, tropical and environmental biology; they will either be purely analytical or have strong field and/or laboratory components.

It will also provide you with a solid grounding in a range of professional and transferable skills, and the opportunity to make a more informed decision on the area of research and specific PhD project you wish to pursue in the future.

It will be ideal training for those who wish to pursue a career in academic, government or non-governmental organisations engaged in research into biodiversity.


Modules shown are for the current academic year, and are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

The course will include:

  • Two-week module on genomics, including lectures and practicals in molecular ecology
  • Two-week module on biodiversity informatics, including lectures and practicals in GIS techniques (geographic information system)
  • Two-week module in programming, introducing core concepts such as control flow and simulation, R and languages such as Perl and Python
  • One-week module in statistics
  • A series of workshops, seminars and guest lectures on research techniques and rapidly-changing fields
  • One-week summer school on ‘Grand Challenges in Biodiversity Research’ (largely organised by the students as a retreat). This summer school will provide a relaxed set-up to run forums on current ‘hot’ topics, such as ‘biodiversity under climate change’, ‘ethics and genomics’, etc.
  • Training in complementary skills, personal development and business
  • One 36-week research project covering different research areas hosted by a laboratory within the Division of Ecology and Evolution, possibly in conjunction with a laboratory at an affiliated institution. The choice of project will be student-led, and the first eight weeks will provide ample time to choose a suitable host. Each project will be written up by the student in the format of a scientific publication. Although not compulsory, the expectation will be that the students will submit their reports for publication by the relevant peer-reviewed journals, e.g. Global Change BiologySystematic BiologyMolecular EcologyGenome Research as appropriate

The elements and components to be assessed will be weighted as follows:

  • Coursework (25%)
  • Mid-project report (15%)
  • Mid-project presentation (10%)
  • Final report (35%)
  • Final viva (15%)

The research project therefore attracts a total of 75% of the overall mark for the degree.

The best 36-week research project will receive a £1,000 prize from Illumina.

Course location

The course is based at the Silwood Park Campus. This is located between Ascot and Windsor, and is a one-hour journey west of central London.

With its large, research-active faculty, ‘state-of-the-art’ facilities, and wide links to academic researchers and science professionals in the UK and abroad, Silwood Park is in an ideal position to offer such a course.

Some accommodation is available on campus, together with sport and recreational facilities.

The research projects can also be partly based in our collaborating institutes elsewhere in London, and/or even overseas for projects where research in the field is necessary.

Entry requirements

Minimum academic requirement 

2.1 Honours degree in a biological, ecological, or other life sciences subject, or in a physical sciences subject.

A-level mathematics is also required.

International qualifications

The academic requirement above is for applicants who hold or who are working towards a UK qualification. 

We also accept a wide variety of international qualifications. For guidance see our Country Index though please note that the standards listed here are the minimum for entry to the College.

If you have any questions about admissions and the standard required for the qualification you hold or are currently studying for then please contact the relevant admissions team.

English language requirements

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for postgraduate applicants.

How to apply

All applicants must apply onlineFor full details on the online application process, or to start your application, please visit the How to Apply section of our website.

You can usually apply for up to two courses, although your second choice will only be considered if your first-choice application is unsuccessful.

Most of our postgraduate courses don't have a formal closing date, but popular courses close when they are full. We therefore recommend applying early to avoid disappointment, especially students who will also be applying for funding or applying for a visa.

You will need to upload documents with your applications, which may include transcripts and degree certificates.

Offer holders will need to pay a deposit to secure your place. This will be deducted from the balance of your tuition fees.

ATAS Certificate
An ATAS certificate is required for overseas students applying for this course. Your Tier 4 visa application, or extension of stay, will automatically be refused if you need an ATAS certificate and cannot provide one.

For further guidance on obtaining an ATAS certificate please see the information on our International Student Support team website.

Fees and funding

Home and EU students

2017 entry:


Islands and overseas students

2017 entry:


Government funding

The level of tuition fees you pay is based on your fee status, which we assess based on UK government legislation.

If you are a Home or EU student who meets certain criteria, you can apply for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan of up to £10,000 from the UK government for programmes beginning in October 2016. The loan is not means-tested, and you can choose whether to put it towards your tuition fees or living costs. 

Funding from Imperial


We offer a range of scholarships for postgraduate students to support you through your studies. Try our scholarships search tool to see what you might be eligible for.

For more information on the Postgraduate Master's Loan scheme and other funding opportunities that are available, please visit our Fees and Funding website.