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Master of Conservation Biology


Faculty of Science and Engineering
Master of Conservation Biology (MConsBiol)
Admission Requirement:
• Australian level 7 bachelor's qualification or recognised equivalent with two units or equivalent in biology
• GPA of 4.50 (out of 7.00)
English Language Proficiency:
IELTS of 6.5 overall with minimum 6.0 in each band, or equivalent
Study Mode:
Full-time, Part-time
Attendance Mode:
Internal, External
Candidature Length:
Full-time: 1 year - 2 years depending on RPL granted
North Ryde — Session 1 (February)
North Ryde — Session 2 (July)
External — Session 1 (February)
External — Session 2 (July)
Volume of Learning:
Equivalent to 2 years
General requirements:
Minimum number of credit points 64
Minimum number of credit points at 600 level 16
Minimum number of credit points at 800 level or above 48
Completion of other specific minimum requirements as set out below

In order to graduate students must ensure that they have satisfied all of the general requirements of the award.

Specific minimum requirements:

Credit points

600 level

Ecology (4)
4cp from
Evolution (4)
Organismal Biology (4)
Comparative Physiology (4)
Biological Data Analysis (4)
Genetics (4)

800 level

Biology Research Experience (4)
Conservation and Management of Wild Populations (4)
Conservation in Practice (4)
Biodiversity Survey and Monitoring (4)
Contemporary Conservation in Australia (4)
Regional and Global Conservation (4)
Introduction to Geographic Information Science for Postgraduates (4)
Environmental Applications of GIS and Remote Sensing (4)
12cp from
Cross Institutional Study B (4)
Climate Change Impacts (4)
Topics in Australian Marine Science (4)
Molecular Biology and Genomics (4)
Climate Change and The Climate System (4)
Air and Water Quality (4)
Environmental Measurement and Analysis (4)
Environmental Economics (4)
Coastal Environmental Science (4)
Environmental Planning (4)
Environmental Applications of GIS and Remote Sensing (4)
Cross Institutional Study in Environmental Sciences (4)
Attitudes to the Environment (4)
Climate Change: Policies, Management and Adaptation (4)
Heritage and its Management (4)
Globalisation and Sustainable Development (4)
International Agreements and the Environment (4)
Environmental Decision Making (4)
Environmental Impact Assessment (4)
Environmental Law and Sustainable Development (4)
International Environmental Law (4)
Environmental Communication (4)
Generalized Linear Models (4)
Statistical Design (4)
Multivariate Analysis (4)
Statistical Methods in Bioinformatics (4)
8cp from
ANTH units at 800 or 900 level
BCA units at 800 or 900 level
BIOL units at 800 or 900 level
CBMS units at 800 or 900 level
ENVS units at 800 or 900 level
GEOP units at 800 or 900 level
GEOS units at 800 or 900 level
ICOM units at 800 or 900 level
IRPG units at 800 or 900 level
LAW units at 800 or 900 level
PICT units at 800 or 900 level
POIR units at 800 or 900 level
POL units at 800 or 900 level
STAT units at 800 or 900 level


Program Learning Outcomes and Additional Information
AQF Level Level 9 Masters by Coursework Degree
CRICOS Code 086079K
Overview and Aims of the Program This program focuses on the theory, practice and ethics of biodiversity conservation and wildlife management, from the level of wildlife populations to entire ecosystems. It will suit current practitioners wishing to upgrade their knowledge and skills as well as those seeking employment in this sector. The program has flexible options for day attendance, distance education and evening classes, allowing for a significant proportion of the program to be completed off-campus.

Educational aims:
• instill an understanding of the application of biological theory to the problem of conserving biodiversity from the level of wildlife populations to entire ecosystems
• gain a wide range of skills in biodiversity survey, monitoring and assessment, from field techniques to computer modelling
• gain experience in applying theory and skills to real-world conservation problems within a question-based scientific framework
• develop a familiarity with the unique biodiversity of Australia and its connections with the southern continents and the rest of the globe.
Graduate Capabilities

The Graduate Capabilities Framework articulates the fundamentals that underpin all of Macquarie’s academic programs. It expresses these as follows:

Cognitive capabilities
(K) discipline specific knowledge and skills
(T) critical, analytical and integrative thinking
(P) problem solving and research capability
(I) creative and innovative

Interpersonal or social capabilities
(C) effective communication
(E) engaged and ethical local and global citizens
(A) socially and environmentally active and responsible

Personal capabilities
(J) capable of professional and personal judgement and initiative
(L) commitment to continuous learning

Program Learning Outcomes By the end of this program it is anticipated you should be able to:

1. advanced understanding and detailed operational knowledge of the theory and practice of conservation biology, including:
• how biodiversity is distributed at local to global scales and the processes that generate these patterns (K)
• the threats to biodiversity in a wide range of contexts, and particularly the Australasian context (K)
• how threats lead to biodiversity loss and the consequences of biodiversity loss (K)
• characteristic Australasian species and ecosystems, and the processes by which this unique biota came to be (K)
2. professional-level skills and capabilities in conservation practice, including:
• critical evaluation and synthesis of diverse information sources on a conservation issue (K, T, P, C)
• data gathering on populations and communities, in the field, in the laboratory and through data mining, within a framework designed to answer specific research questions (K, T, P, J)
• data analysis on populations and communities, including computer modelling, for the purposes of explanation and prediction (K, T, P)
• scientific and professional responsibilities including an awareness of workplace safety and ethics (E, J)
3. experience in applying advanced knowledge and professional-level skills to conservation problems, including:
• assessing the risk of loss of biodiversity, from populations to communities, and the threatening processes contributing to that risk (K, T, P, J)
• prioritisation of populations and communities for conservation on the basis of risk assessment, and the identification and evaluation of management options to abate that risk (K, T, P, E, J)
• communication of risks and management options to a variety of audiences, including lay, professional and scientific audiences (C, E, J)
• design and implementation of an independent project to answer a specific research question applicable to the conservation of biodiversity and report the results of this project at a level of achievement suitable for scientific peer review (K, T, P, C, E, J)
• contribution to an on-going real-world conservation project, collaborating with scientists, students and policy-makers in the development and implementation of a scientifically rigorous plan of action (K, T, P, C, E, J).
Learning and Teaching Methods The Master of Conservation Biology aims to develop flexible, knowledgeable graduates with the skills to become capable practitioners in biological conservation. Our program therefore strongly encourages self-directed learning, focussing on developing students’ abilities and skills, and not just instilling knowledge.

Our units combine both theoretical and practical aspects. Theoretical elements are taught using a combination of lectures, tutorials, workshops and online activities. Practical components involve laboratory-based sessions, field trips to locations on and around campus, in the Sydney Basin, and further afield, as well as role-play scenarios and problem-solving in tutorial sessions. The use of case studies in lectures and tutorials is an important component, demonstrating the application of theory and research tools to real-world problems in biological conservation. Teamwork is a common feature of practical exercises, where students can develop the capacity to work with others in a team to achieve a goal. In recognition that students learn via different means (i.e. visual, auditory, tactile), many of our units take advantage of a diversity of media for their delivery (e.g. videos, lectures, readings, activities). Our philosophy is that students learn by doing and we endeavour to make our units as hands-on as possible.

The degree is offered in external as well as internal mode. For external mode, instead of attending weekly classes, students complete practical exercises in blocks over several weekends, or by self-directed exercises from their home location. Furthermore, many of the theoretical aspects can be completed on-line in lieu of lecture attendance. Note that the external offering is designed to maximise flexibility, which is especially important to postgraduate coursework students, but does not eliminate the face-to-face component.

Engagement with the latest research in conservation biology is an important component of the program. The latest developments in theory and research tools will be covered in lectures and tutorials, and case studies are used to demonstrate application to biological conservation. The development of research skills is built into the core coursework units of the program. In addition, all students complete a small independent research project (BIOL860 Biological Research Experience), supervised by an academic in the Department of Biological Sciences, with the opportunity to include an adjunct supervisor from the conservation professional community.

Importantly, engagement with the conservation professional community is an essential element of the program. Conservation professionals are frequent guest lecturers. In addition, all students complete a work placement (BIOL870 Conservation in Practice) with a professional institution or organisation engaged in biological conservation. As many of our students are already employed within the professional sector, students can nominate a placement (constituting a discrete project) with their current employer.
Assessment Our assessments are designed not only to test students’ discipline-specific knowledge and skills but also their ability to integrate and analyse information to solve real-world problems. Assessments are spread throughout semester to enable students to build confidence and gain feedback as they learn. Within the core coursework units of the program, assessments are scaffolded in that they build upon one another, breaking a major final assignment into several stages, with feedback given at each stage.

Towards the end of the program, students complete a report on an independent research project, which serves as a culmination of their studies. Students are expected to draw on their acquired knowledge and skills to implement and report on their chosen project, demonstrating a high degree of independence in execution of the project and the reporting of the results.

Both formative and summative feedback is provided in the program. Formative feedback, given while students work on tasks, is given through online discussions and tutorials. Further, by adopting scaffolded assessments in core units, formative feedback on their final assignment is given in stages as students complete each of the other assignments. Summative feedback is provided once each assessment task is completed.

In recognition that students learn and communicate in different ways, assessment methods are diverse, with at least three different types of assessment in every unit. Assessment methods include, but are not limited to, quizzes, written assessments (such as scientific reports, grant proposals, case studies, critiques of the scientific and popular literature), oral assessments (such as presentations, debates and discussions), and multi-media presentations (posters, videos, blogs). Most postgraduate units do not have a final exam but rather a final major assignment (written or oral) that assesses higher-level learning and independence rather than a simple demonstration of acquired knowledge.
Recognition of Prior Learning

Macquarie University may recognise prior formal, informal and non-formal learning for the purpose of granting credit towards, or admission into, a program. The recognition of these forms of learning is enabled by the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Policy (see and its associated Procedures and Guidelines. The RPL pages contain information on how to apply, links to registers, and the approval processes for recognising prior learning for entry or credit. 

Domestic Students
For undergraduate RPL information visit
For domestic postgraduate RPL information visit

International Students
For RPL information visit

Support for Learning

Macquarie University aspires to be an inclusive and supportive community of learners where all students are given the opportunity to meet their academic and personal goals. The University offers a comprehensive range of free and accessible student support services which include academic advice, counselling and psychological services, advocacy services and welfare advice, careers and employment, disability services and academic skills workshops amongst others. There is also a bulk billing medical service located on campus.

Further information can be found at

Campus Wellbeing contact details:
Phone: +61 2 9850 7497

Program Standards and Quality

The program is subject to an ongoing comprehensive process of quality review in accordance with a pre-determined schedule that complies with the Higher Education Standards Framework. The review is overseen by Macquarie University's peak academic governance body, the Academic Senate and takes into account feedback received from students, staff and external stakeholders.

Graduate Destinations and Employability Graduates of this degree have developed a broad range of problem-solving skills suitable for a practitioner in conservation and resource management. Potential careers include:
• natural resource management, including National Parks and catchment management
• environmental consulting
• threatened species management
• conservation policy (local, state, Commonwealth government)
• scientific or project officer in industry and government research
• scientific education.

Graduates of this degree are typically employed by:
• environmental consultancies (environmental monitoring and assessment, ecological restoration)
• local, state and Commonwealth government (zoos, botanic gardens, national parks, forestry, environmental regulation and licensing, primary industry, catchment management agencies, local councils, aboriginal land councils)
• non-government organisations (conservation groups, funding bodies, volunteer organisations)
• universities and research institutes
• ecotourism operators.
Assessment Regulations

This program is subject to Macquarie University regulations, including but not limited to those specified in the Assessment Policy, Academic Honesty Policy, the Final Examination Policy and relevant University Rules. For all approved University policies, procedures, guidelines and schedules visit

Accreditation This is an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) accredited qualification.

2017 Unit Information

When offered:
S1 Day
Permission of Executive Dean of Faculty
HSC Chinese, CHN113, CHN148