Oxford University, UK
Posted: 2 years ago

£5,350 per course

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Learn to effectively assess and monitor biodiversity and ecosystems across all biomes.

The Postgraduate Certificate in Ecological Survey Techniques aims to provide the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to conduct effective ecological field surveys for a range of key taxa, and to analyse field survey data with confidence.

The PGCert is taught via a mixture of face-to-face, online and experiential learning. A choice of modules enables you to explore areas of interest and specialism relevant to your professional needs.

Drawing on a rich pool of expertise, teaching is conducted by a highly knowledgeable and diverse team of practitioners and academics engaged directly with ecological issues.

Podcast Interview

Listen to our podcast interview with Dr Ada Grabowska-Zhang, from the University of Oxford. Ada is the Course Director for the Postgraduate Certificate in Ecological Survey Techniques, a one-year flexible course which trains people in the practice of working as an ecologist or a conservationist.

We talk about the course, who it’s aimed at and how it works, and we also discuss Ada’s career path and she shares her advice for people seeking to work as an academic or as a lecturer. It is an insightful conversation about a fabulous course. Enjoy.

Who is the course for?

The course (taught part-time, normally over one year) is designed for both students and professionals needing to up-skill in: Environmental management; Environmental assessment; Biodiversity monitoring.

Many of our PGCert students are professional ecological consultants, environmental managers and rangers, research and postgraduate students, educators as well as volunteers and those looking to make a career change. The course suits those looking for flexible study combined with expert training.

The techniques covered are universal using international case studies and examples. Past students have joined from the UK, the USA, Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe.

Charter Status

The course can help you to apply for Chartered Status (such as Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Ecologist) and to meet relevant professional competency thresholds. Further information can be found in our Chartered status and essential skills guide.

Course content

As well as an introductory face-to-face week in Oxford, students take four tutor-led online modules and conduct a Field Project.

Face-to-Face week

This five-day Core Module provides a practical introduction to: Geographical Information Systems (GIS); an overview of approaches to plant and animal identification; an introduction to selected surveying techniques; University facilities and resources; and the Field Project. Activities include the use of GPS, bird netting and ringing, and surveying bats and vegetation.

Online Modules

The online modules are also available as standalone modules, PGCert students can therefore expect to share their learning with a wide range of other professionals and researchers looking to develop their skills in a particular area.

Core Online Modules:
Option Modules (select two):

Field Project

The Field Project consolidates and further develops the skills gained during taught modules by enabling you to apply them to your own research topic and undertake your own field work. This year we have developed partnerships which will allow you to conduct research projects on sites of regenerative agriculture and rewilding.


6 reviews on “Ecological Survey Techniques

    Harriet Bennett on

    I have just finished this course. The teaching was an excellent standard and the course interesting. I have just landed my dream job so it was well worth it! The course isn’t cheap but that’s probably because it’s at Oxford University and that gives you access to wonderful facilities and it is a great thing to have on your CV.

    Emma Gardner on

    I wholeheartedly recommend this course! It gave me the fundamental grounding in ecological survey techniques that I needed to help change career direction. The course material is excellent and the tutors are always helpful and approachable. The face-to-face week provides a great opportunity to get first-hand experience of a wide range of survey techniques and meet other students on the course. The online learning environment then makes it easy to keep in touch and interact with other students and tutors throughout the course. I found there was a good balance of online theoretical work and practical work; the field project module allows you to get stuck into a practical research project of your own on a topic that really interests you. I recently published my field project results in an academic journal – even after the course had finished, my tutors continued to offer support and advice to help me achieve this. I would recommend this course to anyone looking to increase their knowledge, experience, confidence and employability in ecology and ecological surveying.

    Betsy Brown on

    I’m currently studying this course and I’m very glad I decided to apply. The standard of teaching is fantastic and I’ve found that with the online module format you can go largely at your own pace while the structured topics mean you don’t feel like you’re on your own. Being able to discuss the topics with other students on the module forums makes you feel like you’re in a tutor group and encourages further understanding of the topics and further questions. The face-to-face week was very enjoyable and gave us a chance to meet the tutors and other students on the course alongside learn some hands on ecological skills. This meant that for the remainder of the course, all online conversations felt more personal as we knew the other students we were learning with. I’m very excited to be planning my project at the moment which I’ve been able to link to work outside of the University, so the course provides great opportunities not just for training but for boosting your career. I highly recommend this course to anyone thinking of applying!

    Christina SEKERES on

    Being a mature career changer and coming from an unrelated field, I am thankful to the University of Oxford for admitting me to the PG Cert course. It was challenging and demanded a lot of self-discipline because I was also working, but it certainly paid off. The course helped me bridge the knowledge gap and access further postgrad study that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

    Celeste de Kock on

    I received much more from this course than I could have ever hoped for. Apart from learning useful, practical theory surrounding ecological survey techniques, I gained many skills that made me grow as an academic. I made many useful contacts – multiple conservation organisations and landowners. I got a sense of what other employment options exist outside academia and teaching by encountering local conservation agencies and learning from my fellow classmates (who ranged from a high school teacher to working environmental consultants and academics). I became much more independent and gained the confidence to conduct fieldwork on my own and to organise everything myself. The field project was of such a standard that I managed to publish it in a local journal a year after submission. Lastly, I made many friends and valuable contacts during my fieldwork and during the EST course. The face-to-face module in Oxford grounded the course and allowed us to meet fellow classmates and some of our tutors in person. The balance between practical and theoretical components of the course was good – the absence of overlap between modules and the field project helped with effective time management. The staff was incredibly supportive throughout and offered help long after graduation regarding publication and advice for future endeavours. I would highly recommend this course since it added so much value to my academic career.

    Picket Chabwedzeka on

    I’m a wildlife manager in Victoria Falls In Zimbabwe and i couldn’t have found any better course than this one. The course is very practical based and very applicable techniques to use in my field work and highly recommend it to any wildlife manager and ecologist out there. It is an online course with very supportive lecturers who are experts in their fields and together deliver an amazing course. Through the different lecturers assistance and guidance,i have already started developing survey techniques to help manage my reserve better and seek to improve our management approach and achieve our national sustainable management goals for our wildlife and conservation areas. I’m very appreciative to have been accepted on this highly competitive course and hope to achieve a lot by the end of the course and look forward to great results in my field projects and improve my research skills. This is a very important course for anyone wanting to improve their career in ecological research.

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