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Postgraduate Admissions

Course closed:

Conservation Leadership is no longer accepting new applications.

The MPhil in Conservation Leadership is a full-time, 11-month Master's course aimed at postgraduates of leadership potential with at least three years of relevant professional experience, either in employment or in a voluntary capacity. The unique features of this course are its delivery by a partnership between several university departments and conservation organisations based around Cambridge, and its focus on issues of management and leadership. Consequently, the course aims to deliver a world-class and interdisciplinary education in conservation leadership that is not available elsewhere.

The MPhil in Conservation Leadership aims to train students to address the challenges of biodiversity conservation in an integrated and interdisciplinary manner. The goal is not only to develop conservationists with greater awareness of the complex drivers of biodiversity loss, but to develop the ability to act and lead effectively. This includes the development of professional management and leadership skills including strategic planning, finance and accounting, managing people, innovation, entrepreneurship and the management of change. The course fosters and develops the leadership of its students by promoting their capacity to understand the links among the drivers of biodiversity loss, and to think creatively about conservation solutions across organisational and political boundaries and economic sectors, and by developing their confidence and maturity of judgement.

The course has two sections: (i) coursework modules; and (ii) a professional placement.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the 11 months, students taking the MPhil in Conservation Leadership will be expected to have:

  • Applied leadership and management skills, including strategic planning, finance and accounting, leading and inspiring people, and the management of change;
  • Communication skills required by conservation leaders, including oral presentation skills, face to face networking and advocacy skills and broadcast media interview skills;
  • Familiarity with various theories of leadership relevant to conservation, and the ability to critically analyse their strengths and weaknesses;
  • Familiarity with debates across the social and natural sciences concerning the root causes of ecosystem change and biodiversity decline and alternative proposals for addressing these causes;
  • Familiarity with the structure and function of contemporary conservation and alternative conservation tools and approaches, and the ability to critically analyse their strengths and weaknesses;
  • The ability to apply theoretical insights to create practical solutions to specific conservation problems in a real-world context;
  • The ability to distinguish between different scientific perspectives that inform policy debates, and to exercise judgement in the interpretation of conflicting evidence;
  • The ability to synthesise information from across a range of academic disciplines, and to summarise this in a manner that is accessible to different audiences;
  • The ability to manage time and work to deadlines, both individually and in a team;
  • The ability to plan, execute and manage a project, both individually and in a team.



Students wishing to continue to a PhD in Geography or other cognate subjects must reapply for admission to a PhD before the end of their MPhil and via the University admissions process, taking the funding and application deadlines into consideration. Applicants should bear in mind that the MPhil in Conservation Leadership is a stand-alone taught Masters degree which is not designed to prepare students for PhD study.

To be accepted for a PhD programme students must satisfy a good pass level in all the assessed units of their MPhil, with particular attention given to the level of performance in their placement component.

However, readmission is not automatic to high-performing MPhil students. In addition, a student must demonstrate suitability to undertake a PhD and make a full specification of their research proposal which allows the suitability of the topic to be assessed. They must also have the agreement of a supervisor to supervise, based on the appropriateness of the PhD proposal to the expertise of the academic staff in the department.

Open Days

The Open Day usually takes place at the beginning of November. The event is suitable for those considering applying for postgraduate study at the University. It provides opportunities to meet with academics, explore the Colleges, and find out more about the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

Key Information

11 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of Geography

Course – related enquiries

Application – related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2020
Application deadline
Dec. 3, 2020
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2021

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Graduate Funding Competition
Dec. 3, 2020
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 14, 2020

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2021, Lent 2022 and Easter 2022.

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