Applications close on
reach the FitzPatrick Institute before the end of August each year to be considered for
a place in the following year.
| CB Course
Peter Ryan & others
ecology and an introduction
| Climate change
John Bolton & Lindsey Gillson
ecology, GIS and conservation planning
and natural resources
Disturbance and restoration ecology
Bursaries for Conservation Biology Masters students
specifically for the Conservation Biology Masters Course.
|Study & Research Opportunities
Conservation Biology Coursework Masters
Our teaching philosophy follows
the observation of William Butler Yeats: “Teaching is not the
filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire”. The general
aims of the Conservation Biology MSc programme are to produce
graduates with a broad understanding of conservation issues and
to provide them with the scientific background and tools to be
able to analyse and solve practical, conservation-related
problems. A synthetic, holistic approach is encouraged to
problem solving through exposure to a variety of disciplines.
Emphasis is also placed on developing oral and written
communication skills. We have found that this broad approach to
postgraduate education produces graduates who compete
successfully in the job market and go on to make a difference in
the field. Although emphasis is given to solving conservation
challenges in an African context, students are provided with a
broad-based education that will stand them in good stead
throughout the world. In 2007, in a study published in
Conservation Biology, the University of Cape Town was ranked
equivalent with the fourth highest North American institution in
terms of the impact of its conservation-related research
Who is eligible to enrol?
Applicants to join the course
must hold at least a BSc Honours (or equivalent qualification).
Applicants will be drawn mainly from two groups: young people
who have just obtained a degree and wish to become conservation
biologists, and qualified, practising nature conservators who
wish to update and/or expand their knowledge of the modern
theory and practice of conservation biology. The course is an
intensive one, and only a limited number of participants are
accepted each year. Details regarding registration fees, and
approximate accommodation and living expenses in Cape Town are
available on request. Prospective applicants should apply to the
Director, FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town,
Rondebosch, South Africa 7701. Applications must reach this
address before the end of August each year to be considered for
a place on the course the following year. Applicants from
outside South Africa are encouraged to apply early so that they
have plenty of time to apply for funding and study visas.
Applicants should please consult the Checklist for Applicants
for the relevant documents and information that must accompany
Structure of the course
The coursework component is
intensive and exacting, but represents a huge learning
opportunity and the chance to interact with a wide range of
excellent conservation biologists, both within and outside the
university environment. It includes 7 months of intensive
coursework and a 6-month individual research project.
Coursework consists of a series
of modules, each taught by experts in their field. Modules
typically include lectures, practicals, essays, discussion
groups, seminars and field excursions. Reading lists are
provided. Emphasis is placed on African examples and case
Appropriate computer courses are
available for participants who do not have the relevant skills,
but applicants are encouraged to develop at least rudimentary
computer skills before enrolling. The Institute has excellent
computer and library facilities.
Modules fall into four different sections: an introduction, an
ecological core, an interdisciplinary core, and a synthesis.
Each module lasts between one and four weeks.
The introduction occupies the first three weeks and includes
orientation, an overview of conservation biology, and a week
studying the philosophy of science.
The ecological core includes modules in community ecology,
population ecology, biodiversity basics, aquatic ecology,
molecular ecology, disturbance and restoration ecology, and
The curriculum is divided into
two parts. The first part consists of the regular course
modules. The second part consists of a ‘longitudinal’ series of
lectures and seminars that are aimed at (1) complementing and
augmenting professional skills that may not be covered during
courses; and (2) exposing students to relevant ideas that they
may not encounter during the rest of the course.
We accept only 12-14 students
each year into the conservation biology masters programme. There
are often 2-3 times this many applicants each year, resulting in
competition for places. In addition to academic ability,
preference is given to candidates with experience in the
conservation arena, particularly in an African context. Because
of the intensive nature of the programme, students spend a lot
of time working closely with their peers. Having students from a
diversity of backgrounds contributes significantly to the
success of the programme. Consequently we strive each year to
select students that combine a mix of youthful enthusiasm and
mature experience, as well as a mix of students from first and
third world countries. The ideal class comprises roughly one
third students from South Africa, one third from the rest of
Africa, and one third from the rest of the world.
Since its inception, more than 200
students have graduated from the CB programme from more than 30
Checklist for applicants
Closing Date: 31 August
||Completed UCT admission form
which can be downloaded from the
webpage. You may submit an online application to UCT, but please still
send all the documents requested below to the Director, FitzPatrick Institute
at the address below. We will forward your certified copies and proof of
payment of the application fee to the UCT Admissions Office.
Departmental Application Form, which is available on the
|| Full Curriculum Vitae giving
permanent address and telephone/ fax numbers, date of birth,
full names, nationality, educational history up to present
date, employment history (if any) up to present date,
details of computer systems and software packages used to
date, details of research publications up to present date.
addresses, fax numbers, telephone numbers and e-mail address
of at least two referees who can comment on your academic
ability, suitability for postgraduate study, and also give a
confidential personal evaluation of your sense of initiative
and computer literacy.
academic transcript showing marks for each course taken in
each year. This should be a photocopy of the original, but
the photocopy should have an original stamp certifying that
it is a true copy of the original transcript. Certified
copies of transcripts of any subsequent postgraduate
qualifications should also be included here.
copy of the original degree certificate (and any subsequent
qualifications mentioned above).
copy of the original TOEFL or PTEEP certificate or other
English qualification as mentioned above.
||A 1 or 2 page
typed motivation outlining why you chose to apply for a
place on the CB Course, what your long-term career
aspirations are, and how you think the successful completion
of the CB-Course will benefit those aspirations.
letter addressed to the Director, FitzPatrick Institute.
fee of R100 for students from South Africa and SADC
countries and R300 for all other students. (This fee might
be increased when UCT finalises the fee structure for 2013.)
- Application fees should be paid by cheque, postal order or bank draft made out to the University of Cape
Town, or you can submit a
credit card form.
- No application fee
should be paid directly into a bank account of the
university, and application fees can only be paid in
cash if you are doing so in person.
- Do not send cash by
post or courier.
- Application fees
should be paid in South African Rands.
- UNDER NO
CIRCUMSTANCES WILL MONEYGRAMS BE ACCEPTED.
Applications and queries
Address your application (or any
The Director: FitzPatrick
University of Cape Town
Private Bag X3
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 3290/1
Fax: +27 (0)21 650 3295
Information for 2014
Hilary Buchanan processes the
applications for the department and she has compiled a list of
details for current applicants that includes important
information about fees and the application process at UCT.
Please download the following documents for more information:
Conservation Biology MSc Application Details [PDF - 77.5KB]
Departmental Application Form [PDF - 16.6KB]
Fees for MSc by Coursework & Dissertation in
- Full year: R37 000.
- An international fee is charged on the course
– currently R24 750.00 for students from Africa (non SADC countries) and R28
575.00 for students from the rest of the world. On registration, students can
apply for these fees to be reduced to the international levy of R3000.00.
- Students from SADC countries pay an additional
fee of R1 500.00.
The University sets the fees for the following
year in November, so we will only be able to advise the fees for 2014 late in
the year. We suggest that prospective students budget for a 10% increase on
the 2013 fees.
Please feel free to contact
Hilary with any queries: