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Biosciences at Penryn Campus: New postgraduate students

Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students

A very warm welcome to Biosciences at the University of Exeter. Congratulations on securing your place here – we look forward to meeting you, and hope you will enjoy a rewarding and challenging academic experience as part of the Faculty of Environment, Science and Economy.

Please take time to look through the induction information on this page to prepare you for the start of term.

On this page: Welcome to the CEC | Online inductionAcademic induction | Meet your tutors | Assessments Contacts and links

We will be updating this page regularly as new details of induction and welcome activities are released. Please ensure you check back here frequently for updates, as well as your personal email account, new University of Exeter email account, and your My Timetable for the most up-to-date information from us. (Please note you need to register with the University and activate your IT account to access My Timetable.) If you have any questions about your induction or starting your studies, please contact your Info Point using the details on this page.

Welcome from the Director of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation

Meet your Head of Department, Professor Dave Hodgson.

Biosciences Penryn online induction

This online induction course for Biosciences students at Penryn  is all about helping you to feel confident and happy during your first couple of weeks and will provide further detailed information about studying with us. 

Welcome to Biosciences Cornwall: Ecology and Conservation

On behalf of everyone at the Department of Ecology and Conservation, welcome to the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus. This is a very special place, brimming with expertise and passion for Biodiversity and Conservation, Marine Vertebrate Conservation, Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology, Conservation Science and Policy, Pathogen Evolution and Marine Environmental Management. As you embark on your university adventure, I would like to reassure you that all our staff and students will do their utmost to help you with the transition to university life. We are here to support you while you gain your independence! We will do our best to inspire and entertain you during your time with us, and provide you with the skills and scholarship required for your chosen career.

The University of Exeter provides a supportive and challenging environment for all its students, and although you have only just arrived, your time here will pass quickly – so please do not waste it. Engage in all the opportunities on offer and give your best at all times. In return, we will give you our best and together we will solve a wide range of biological, environmental and social problems. Our campus is also a place of diversity, dignity and respect, so please show care and consideration for staff and your fellow students.

We wish you all the very best during your studies and hope that you enjoy your stay here just as much as we enjoy hosting you.

Best wishes,

Professor Dave Hodgson

Head of Department and Director, Centre for Ecology and Conservation


Your academic induction

During Welcome Week (19-23 September) you will have some scheduled induction meetings. This will include (among other things) an opportunity to meet staff and ask questions in our PGT welcome talk, and an MSc welcome conference, in which you will have an opportunity to hear about the research projects conducted by last year’s cohort of MSc students and get to know your peers during a networking event.

Please check your timetable in the iExeter app for the times and locations. For help with your timetable, see the How my timetable works guide.

We have prepared some information which will be helpful for your induction, via a Future Learn course, specifically for Biosciences students starting in Penryn. There is also the opportunity through this course to ask us questions and to chat with your peers. The course is delivered in three sections (described as “Weeks”). We recommend you look through this now to see what information is available to you, but you will be able to refer to this throughout your time here. 

Course-specific information

If your course is listed below, please read this additional information from your course tutors. 

Dear Students,

Welcome to MSc Marine Environmental Management

On behalf of all staff, we look forward to welcoming you to our Penryn Campus in Cornwall this September.

Facebook Group

To help you start getting to know other new MSc students ahead of your arrival, we have set up a Facebook group. If you want to join then please drop Victoria an email ( to tell her your “name” on Facebook so we can avoid any unwelcome members. If you don’t use Facebook, don’t worry as important announcements will be sent to the contact email you have given us.


The location of the Penryn Campus in Penryn, Cornwall, is approximately 2 hours' travel west of Exeter’s Streatham campus and this map shows how to find us.

Programme page

Please familiarize yourself with MEM’s programme page for information about course structure and modules.

Statistics, R and GIS

Everyone will do a module on statistical modelling, using the open access programme “R”. If you are new to this, don’t worry as things will start with the basics. If you want to prepare yourself for the module with some reading about “R” and statistics for ecology there are lots of online sources for this. However, many people find it best to wait for the module to begin before starting to think about statistics. The GIS module will involve use of “R” and the free, open-source geographic information software “QGIS” which can be accessed at

Fieldwork and equipment

The Coral Reef Field Course module that takes place over the Easter vacation is a highlight of the MEM MSc for those who choose to take it. The cost of the trip is included in your fees, but you will need to pay for a required business visa which cost $US 200 last year. If you want to dive on the field trip you will need to be a PADI Rescue diver or the equivalent and you will need to hold a HSE certificate for diving at work that is valid within a year (this cost £140 last year). As it is expected that most people will need to obtain the latter, a bus trip for it to Plymouth will be arranged for you at no cost.

All the equipment required for the Maldives trip will be provided for you apart from mask, fins, snorkel, and wetsuit. As the water temperature in Maldives is 30°C a wetsuit is not required for snorkelling. If you want to use one for diving then it needs to be thin or a “shorty”. When snorkelling it is essential to cover yourself up with a long-sleeved top and ideally leggings for protection against the sun and for reasons of respect to locals. If you don’t want to use leggings, then long board shorts with lots of sunscreen can suffice. Your swimsuit must be modest, your shorts no shorter than mid-thigh length and your tops must cover your shoulders.

If buying new fins for the trip it is best to go for those that require booties as wearing these will protect you against cuts from underwater litter. A beach towel is required for the trip but towels for showering and all bedding will be provided. If you have your own dive computer, we request that you use that, but we can provide this equipment for people without. Sunglasses and a sunhat are strongly recommended.

If you choose the re-wilding field course instead of going to the Maldives, that requires the sort of basic outdoor weather gear that is important for Cornish life in general and for some day trips on other modules. So be sure to bring things like: 

  • Waterproof coat and trousers
  • Roll mat, sleeping bag and pillow
  • Daysack/Rucksack
  • Drybag for rucksack (stout plastic bag / bin liner will do)
  • Hats for sunny and cold weather
  • Warm and cool weather clothing (multiple thin layers work best for warmth).
  • Hiking boots (and good socks for these)
  • Wellies
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars (if you have them)
  • Notebook / pen / pencil (essential kit)
  • Torch / head torch
  • Plate/bowl & cutlery (knife/fork/spoon)

General stuff that everyone should bring to help with our carbon footprint:

  • Water bottle / flask
  • Re-useable cup
  • Tupperware / lunch box (great for storing any additional snacks that you purchase or as a bowl/plate for eating out of)

Start time

You will need to be in Penryn and ready to start activities on the morning of the 22nd September 2022 for a Welcome Talk. Lectures start on Monday 26th September.

Let us know if you have any questions, but please note that Julie will be away on holiday until the 16th September so won’t be answering emails during this time. If you need help then, please ask Victoria instead:

Best wishes,

Julie & Victoria

Dr Julie Hawkins (Programme Director)
Dr Victoria Hobson (Director of Postgraduate Taught Education,

Dear Students,

Welcome to MSc Pathogen Evolution.

On behalf of the programme staff, we are all looking forward to welcoming you to the Penryn Campus in Cornwall later this year.

Facebook Group

This Facebook group is for all MSc students at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation in the 2022/23 cohort. It is designed to facilitate you getting to know your classmates and organise house shares etc. Please do request to join, but also send Victoria an email ( to tell us your “name” on Facebook so we can avoid any unwelcome members. If you don’t use Facebook, do not worry as important announcements will be sent to your contact email.


The Penryn Campus is based in Penryn, Cornwall (see this map for the location), not Exeter in Devon where the main campus is situated. We are approximately 2 hours' travel west of the main campus.

Programme Page

On the programme page you can find a list of the course structure and current modules. These are subject to change but are useful to consider before you begin.

Statistics, R and GIS

Everyone will do a module on statistical modelling, and this will be undertaken in the open access programme “R”. If you are new to this, it is recommended you prepare in advance by doing some basic reading on statistics for ecology and familiarise yourself with “R”. If you will be doing the GIS module you will be using the free and open-source geographic information software “QGIS” as well as R, which can be accessed at

When will we start?

There will be a Welcome Talk on the morning of the 22nd September 2022, when you will have some welcome activities, as well as getting to know your course-mates and lecturers. This is during Welcome Week, where there are also other activities to welcome and help you get to know the university and the campus.

Anything that you need to ask, just ask.

Stineke & Victoria

Dr Stineke Van Houte (Programme Director,
Dr Victoria Hobson (Director of Postgraduate Taught Education,

Meet your tutors

The Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC) is comprised of a group of academic researchers and students who pride themselves on delivering cutting-edge education and research designed to address the factors that influence biodiversity and complexity in the natural world.

Our academic staff typically split their time between teaching and research and you will be able to learn more about the research activities of different academics as your degree progresses. Some staff members also take on key teaching roles, including:

Dr Chris Laing is the Director of Education and he has overall responsibility for all programmes and modules in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation. You’ll be able to meet with him during Welcome Week, and most of your contact with him will probably be in his regular role as an academic member of staff teaching you on modules. If you encounter any significant difficulties with your studies, Chris will be able to work with you to resolve these.

Each of our MSc programmes is led by a Programme Director, whose job is to oversee the running of the programme and to liaise with all of the module leads to ensure that you make good progress. You might need to contact them with any programme-level concerns, and they may also be able to advise you on your module choices.

Our Programme Directors are:

Each of our MSc programmes is led by a Programme Director, whose job it is to oversee the running of the programme and to liaise with all of the module leads to ensure that you make good progress. You might need to contact them with any programme-level concerns, and they may also be able to advise you on your module choices.

As soon as you arrive, you’ll be allocated your own dedicated academic tutor who’ll be your first point of contact if you have any queries or concerns about your overall progress and wellbeing. Across the university you may also see these referred to as ‘Personal Tutors’ or ‘Academic Personal Tutors’, but it’s all the same role.

You’ll be invited to attend regular meetings with them throughout the academic year, and it’s important that you go along, even if for a very quick chat to confirm that all is well. You can also contact your tutor at any time by email or by visiting them during their weekly office hours.

The relationship you build up with your tutor is an important one, not least because they will sometimes be the person who writes references for you when you start applying for jobs or other positions such as internships.

This short video outlines some of the benefits of our tutoring system:

Dr Kelly Moyes is the postgraduate senior tutor for Biosciences in Penryn and she makes sure that our academic tutoring system meets your needs. Kelly is also another point of contact if you'd like someone to discuss any concerns you have about your progress or wellbeing.

Your degree is composed of different short courses called ‘modules’. Most of these modules are 15 credits (with the exception of your 90 credit research project) and you complete 180 credits in each year. Each module is led by a named academic member of staff, but some are taught by a team of academics who share the lectures and seminars. You can seek advice from your module leads during their weekly office hours (which will be displayed on the module’s ELE page and the module lead's web profile page).

Contacting us

You can find a list of all academic staff in Ecology and Conservation here, including office locations and contact details.

Types of assessment

Your MSc degree includes a range of assessments, depending on the modules you choose. This includes literature reviews, oral presentations, scientific reports, posters and essays among other things.

Early in your degree you will be asked to complete training in academic honesty, to ensure you act with integrity, both during your degree and beyond.

Links and contacts

Ask a question

The Penryn Info Point is your first port of call for the Education Support Services Team, the Welfare Team and the Student Records/Exams Team or anything else related to your academic studies.

The Compass is your first port of call for non-academic support and access to Student Services.

Keep in touch

Ensure that you keep up to date with what is going on in the department by checking your emails regularly and following your year's Facebook page.

You can find a list of all academic staff in Ecology and Conservation here, including office locations and contact details. You can also find out what is going on in the department more generally by following us on Twitter or Facebook.

The new students website includes everything you need to know about starting University, with a handy checklist of tasks to help you through your first term.

» New students

You can access your timetable via MyTimetable or in the iExeter app. Our How MyTimetable Works guide explains how to understand your timetable, check if your classes are online or on campus, and access online classes.

You can find suggested texts for this course in the module descriptors (see Penryn Campus: Stage 4 modules) and/or on individual module ELE pages. All recommended reading should be available through the university library.

There are many different societies you can join during your time at the Penryn campus. There are a range of different sports and general interest societies, but also many that relate to your degree and enable you to gain valuable skills which will contribute to your university experience.

EcoSoc runs many different ecological-focused activities including moth trapping, mammal trapping, bird walks, bat walks, ID sessions and habitat management.

If you're interested in science communication, Wild Doc Soc is focused on learning how to create fantastic wildlife documentaries.

For all the different societies you can join to get the most out of your time here, look at the Societies page.

We look forward to meeting you soon!

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