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MPhil in Conservation Leadership

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Professional placements


A central component of the MPhil in Conservation Leadership is the professional placement with an organisation engaged in conservation practice and/or research. Placements take place between May and August, following detailed planning during the Michaelmas and Lent Terms. Students work on a specific project which addresses a carefully defined conservation leadership challenge. The aims of the placements are (i) to give students the opportunity to develop applied conservation leadership skills, (ii) to put into practice some of the ideas and methods learned during the taught component of the course, and (iii) to allow students to follow their personal interests by carrying out an in-depth piece of work on an issue or problem that particularly interests them.

Placements can be identified in two ways. A large number of possible placements are put forward by partner organisations working with the MPhil, including all of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative organisations. In most cases students undertake one of these placements. In some cases students come with their own placement idea, and the course team work with them to find a suitable host for their idea, although this cannot be guaranteed.

Placements can tackle a wide range of topics, reflecting the diverse ways of interpreting the meaning of 'conservation leadership'. Students can either select their placement from a list of ideas provided by the CCI partner organisations and circulated in the Michaelmas term, or develop their own ideas and approach potential supervisors directly. Placements can be within a University department or a conservation organisation, and can be undertaken in Cambridge or elsewhere. Students will be expected to make a presentation on their proposed work to a forum during the Lent Term. Placements are assessed by submission of a report of up to 10,000 words.

Examples of placement topics

The following are examples of previous MPhil in Conservation Leadership placement projects:

  1. The role of conservation clusters in promoting and creating innovative conservation solutions (with the Judge Business School)
  2. Facilitating a strategic planning process for a new conservation fund in Mozambique (with FFI)
  3. Governance of marine protected areas: turning paper parks into effectively managed units (with FFI)
  4. What sells the conservation message? An analysis of negative and positive messages in communicating and fundraising for nature conservation (with the Department of Zoology)
  5. Exploring the applicability of WCMC's Biodiversity Knowledge Products to Agriculture (with UNEP-WCMC)
  6. Capacity building needs for the conservation and sustainable management of Cetaceans (with the International Whaling Commission)