Our MSc by Research and PhD programmes in Biodiversity Management encourage you to undertake original, high-quality research, which culminates in the submission of a thesis. We welcome students with the appropriate background for research.
During postgraduate research (PGR) studies students research and write a thesis of under the supervision of an academic team. The length of the thesis varies according to the mode of registrations (i.e. no more than 100,000 words for a PhD, or no more than 40,000 words for an MSc by research). Students participate in the vibrant postgraduate community of the School, and have opportunities to attend a number of seminar series organised by the Research Themes and the Research Centres of the School.
Due to the diversity and international nature of many field-orientated research projects, the amount of time that individual research students spend at the School campus varies. However, students are expected to spend the first months of the PGR study at the School campus to obtain training in research methods and attend a number of research seminars.
The University of Kent was awarded a highly prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for the work of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE).
DICE leads projects in over 50 countries, including research on human wellbeing and nature, human-elephant conflict, oil palm deforestation, online illegal trade in protected species, national park planning and ecotourism projects and the mapping of biodiversity through eDNA.
Although sometimes we have specific MSc / MPhil / PhD research projects funded by external research grants in which the research project has already been specified, most of our research students choose their own research topics. Once you have decided on the nature of your project, you should then contact by email the member of staff in the School whose expertise and interests most closely match your area of research and ask them if they will act as your supervisor. It is extremely important that you attach to your email an updated CV, a 2-page research proposal (including background statement, aims and objectives and research methods) and that you indicate how you are planning to fund your PGR studies. You then work with your proposed supervisor on refining your research proposal which provides the starting point for your subsequent research.
Each student is supervised by a supervisory team that consists of at least two members of academic staff one of them designated to act as the student’s Main supervisor. Occasionally, particular projects require more than two supervisors depending on the expertise that each supervisors brings in the project. It is also possible that co-supervision is provided by a member of staff from different School.
Students meet (or, while in the field, make contact) with their supervisor(s) several times over the course of each term. These meetings involve intensive discussion of the way the project is developing, the readings and training that have been done and that need to be done, and the way field research and writing-up is progressing.
If the research project requires that the student has to spend a significant amount of time in the field (away from the School), local supervision is usually organised. Overseas students who wish to spend most of their time in their home country while undertaking PhD research may register as an external student or for a split PhD.
The University’s Graduate School co-ordinates the Research Development Programmefor research students, providing access to a wide range of lectures and workshops on training, personal development planning and career development skills.
Research within the conservation biology theme is broadly centred on using ecological approaches to understand and maintain biodiversity and ecosystem service provision.
The main tenet that underpins our work is that it is genuinely applied, with the explicit aim of either improving conservation practice (both in-situ and ex-situ) or informing policy development, both nationally and internationally. To achieve this, we collaborate closely with individuals and organisations including government agencies, not-for-profits, private landowners and corporations from around the world, in addition to more traditional partnerships with academics at other universities and research institutes.
The scope of work conducted in the conservation biology theme is diverse, spanning multiple levels of biological organisation, from molecular/evolutionary genetics through to ecosystems, and a wide array of taxonomic groups (e.g. mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, orchids). Primarily, there are four key accordant areas of expertise. The first is spatial/landscape conservation and ecology, with particular emphasis on protected area network design via systematic conservation planning techniques, as well as the use of novel methods to explore the impacts of environmental change (e.g. habitat fragmentation and degradation, climate warming, urbanisation) on populations and assemblages. The second focuses on analysing extinction risk across a continuum ranging from individual species up to global macroecological patterns. Third, much of the long-standing research in DICE is concentrated on monitoring population dynamics and examining trends in the genetic diversity of threatened species, contributing directly to the success of a whole host of conservation programmes over the years. Finally, we study human-wildlife conflict/interactions (e.g. resource competition, disease transmission, development mitigation, wildlife gardening) from a natural sciences perspective, complementing concurrent social science research or contributing to knowledge within an interdisciplinary framework.
Our interdisciplinary research theme explores the complexity and diversity of interactions between people, place and environment.
We pursue our research in a range of geographical and social contexts to elaborate – and engage critically and constructively with – understandings of these relationships and approaches to their management and governance. Our research encompasses questions of sustainability and resilience, set within a broader interest in systems thinking. Research undertaken within our theme is distinguished by significant capacity in the critical and applied social sciences and spatial analysis, and is advanced through strong commitments to theoretical and conceptual innovation, as well as practical research that can influence developments in policy and practice The interdisciplinary basis of the group draws in perspectives from human geography, anthropology, economics, conservation and development studies, and has specific research interests in:
Members of the theme are active members of the University-wide Kent Interdisciplinary Centre for Spatial Studies (KISS) and the School’s Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD) and Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology (DICE). We also host a lively programme of seminar and reading groups that synergise with these wider centre activities. Members of the theme are currently convening a reading group exploring the multiple provocations of the Anthropocene.
DICE is Britain’s leading research and postgraduate training centre dedicated to conserving biodiversity, as well as the ecological processes that support ecosystems and people.
We focus on combining natural and social sciences to understand complex conservation issues and design effective interventions to conserve biodiversity. Our staff have outstanding international research profiles, yet integrate this with considerable on-the-ground experience working in collaboration with conservation agencies around the world. This blend of expertise ensures that our programmes deliver the skills and knowledge that are essential components of conservation implementation.