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Department of Geography


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MPhil in Conservation Leadership


The MPhil degree in Conservation Leadership is a full-time, 11-month, masters course, aimed at graduates of leadership potential with at least three to five years of relevant experience. The unique features of this course are its delivery by a partnership between several university departments and conservation organizations 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 course is based in the University of Cambridge's Department of Geography, which is working in collaboration with partners in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) to deliver the course. CCI was created in 2007 by eight internationally renowned conservation organisations and the University of Cambridge. All are members of the larger network of organizations in the Cambridge Conservation Forum (CCF).

The Director of Conservation Leadership is Nigel Leader-Williams, based in the Department of Geography. The Lecturer in Conservation Leadership is Chris Sandbrook, based at the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the Programme Administrator is Lisa Harris (contact at

Student views on the impact of the course

Latest news

A new paper from a Conservation Leadership graduate

Mxolisi Sibanda, a member of the first cohort of Conservation Leadership students in 2010-11, has published a paper in Oryx entitled "Lessons from the conservation sector's response to the crisis environment in Zimbabwe". The paper describes the recent political crisis in Zimbabwe and the various ways in which conservation organisations have dealt with it, ranging from modifying their activities to pulling out altogether. Congratulations to MX!

June 2014 Issue of the Conservation Leadership Alumni Network (CLAN) Newsletter is now published

We are delighted to announce the publication of Issue 4 of our alumni magazine. In it, you can read about developments with the course and the fantastic progress of our alumni.

Conservation Leadership alumnus lead author on influential report

Mainland Britain holds relatively little biodiversity. By contrast, its far flung Overseas Territories are very varied and exceedingly rich in biodiversity. The conservation of these territories remains Britain's responsibility. Tom Churchyard, a Conservation Leadership alumnus from 2010-11, has just lead-authored a stocktake on the nature in Britain's Overseas Territories. The report has been published by RSPB, and has attracted wide media and policy interest. Tom recently took part in an expedition to the most remote of all these territories, the Pitcairn Islands, to assess the feasibility of eradicating Polynesian rats from Henderson Island.

Conservation Leadership in the virtual worldPicture of Trang Nguyen's online avatar

Trang Nguyen, a current Masters in Conservation Leadership student, has been turned into a virtual avatar for a new campaign against Rhino hunting organsed by the United for Wildlife partnership. Trang's online character will appear in the popular game Runescape, in which players can adopt a white or black 'Royal Rhino'. This is an interesting application of computer games for conservation, which is the subject of a new paper co-authored by Chris Sandbrook, our Lecturer in Conservation Leadership, along with Bruno Monteferri, an alumnus from the first cohort of the masters in 2010-11, and Bill Adams, the Head of the Department of Geography. It seems that our conservation leaders are at the forefront of innovative attempts to use digital games for conservation!

Masters in Conservation Leadership student elected President of the Africa Section of the Society for Conservation Biology

Stephen Awoyemi, a Nigerian student currently studying for the Masters in Conservation Leadership, has been elected the President of the Africa Section of the prestigious Society for Conservation Biology. This adds to Stephen's existing role with SCB as Chair of the Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group. These are great achievements that demonstrate Stephen's leadership potential. You can read more about his conservation journey so far in this article on the SCB website.

Masters in Conservation Leadership student wins prestigious prize for best talk at Student Conference in Conservation Science

We are delighted to announce that Maria Nube Szephegyi, a Uruguayan student who is a member of the current cohort of Masters in Conservation Leadership students, has won First Prize for the best talk at the 2014 Student Conference in Conservation Science in Cambridge. Maria's talk described how she combined years of good science with committed leadership to improve understanding and conservation of the Franciscana dolphin. Well done Maria!

Chris Sandbrook appears on the BBC Radio 4 Shared Planet series

Chris Sandbrook, the Lecturer in Conservation Leadership, was interviewed as part of a programme about community conservation in the BBC Radio 4 Shared Planet series, first broadcast on Tuesday 14th January. You can listen to the interview, which starts about 18 minutes into the episode.

Issue two of the Conservation Leadership Alumni Network (CLAN) Newsletter is now published

We are delighted to announce the publication of Issue 2 of our alumni magazine. In it, you can read about developments with the course and the progress of our alumni.

A new paper from a Conservation Leadership graduate

Congratulations to Godfrey Mtare, from the class of 2011-12, for the publication of a paper in Conservation Biology. The paper identifies insights for integrated conservation from attitudes of people towards protected areas near Godfrey's beloved Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. The full paper is available online.

Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) MAVA Foundation Arcadia logo

The University of Cambridge is grateful for the generous support of the in establishing this MPhil in Conservation Leadership. The Miriam Rothschild Scholarship Programme in Conservation Leadership is generously supported by Arcadia.MAVA Foundation

Read more about the University's programme of giving, including to support scholars in Conservation Leadership, in The Philanthropist