University of Primorska Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technologies
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Nature Conservation

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General information

Name of the programme: Nature Conservation
Type of programme: Master's, 2nd Bologna cycle
Degree awarded: “magister varstva narave” equiv. to a Master’s degree in Nature Conservation
Duration: 2 years (4 semesters)
ECTS-credits: 120
Programme structure: 13 courses (78 ECTS), seminar (6 ECTS), practical training (6 ECTS), Master’s Thesis (30 ECTS)
Mode of study: full-time
Language of study: Slovene

Programme coordinatortop

Assoc. Prof. Elena Bužan, PhD

For information regarding application, enrolment and other administrative procedures please contact Student Services.

About the programmetop

Due to the present global ecological crisis, which is considered to be one of the main threats to the continued existence of human civilization on Earth,  measures for environmental protection are key to the conservation of flora and fauna and their habitats.

The aim of the Nature Conservation master’s programme is to provide its graduates with essential knowledge in the field of protection of nature and the environment. This is not only crucial for comprehending the various roles of organisms and for understanding and identifying the changes occurring in nature, but is also vital for appreciating the importance of ecosystem services for the future protection of nature. The study programme focuses on the protection of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. By including topics that also cover the protection of marine ecosystems, we have introduced a unique academic field of study into Slovenian higher education and thus provided our students with the option of specialization in their desired field of ​​nature conservation.

Nature Conservation is an interesting and varied study programme, which in addition to compulsory subjects also includes a wide range of elective courses. Alongside traditional lectures, courses often include individual project work, laboratory and field work, academic practice and an opportunity to participate in studies within the research group on biodiversity. In choosing their elective courses and their thesis topic, students are able to narrow their focus to a specific scientific field.

The study programme is a continuation of the Biodiversity undergraduate academic study programme and the undergraduate academic programmes of Mediterranean Agriculture and Bioinformatics at UP FAMNIT.

Educational and professional goals  top

  • To familiarise students with the importance of biodiversity at the level of species, ecosystem and the gene
  • To acquaint students with the principles of intervention in natural populations
  • To educate students in environmental engineering and environmental technologies applied in tackling a wide range of environmental issues
  • To train students to study interactions between plant and animal species and the environment
  • To acquaint students with the possibilities for prevention and mitigation of changes in natural systems

Course structure top

During their studies, students must take a total of 13 courses (7 compulsory, 3 modular electives and 3 electives), a seminar, and practical training (3 weeks). They must also prepare and defend their Master’s Thesis.

Elective courses are divided into modular elective courses (2 courses in the 1st year and 1 course in the 2nd year) and general elective courses (2 courses in the 1st year and 1 course in the 2nd year). Elective courses fall within the professional field of nature conservation and are selected from those offered by the study programme.

Students can also choose a course from the list of courses offered by the study programmes of other institutions of higher education in Slovenia and internationally. In this case such a course is considered an external elective course. The courses selected may fall within the field of nature conservation and/or enable an in-depth study of a selected topic that will be extended into the Master’s Thesis. Such courses may be taken at any university that has introduced the ECTS system.

Students select their elective courses in consultation with the coordinator of the study programme (during the 1st year of study, prior to the selection of a mentor) or in consultation with the selected mentor (during the 2nd year).

Upon enrolment, students decide which module they wish to follow. The study programme comprises two modules: the Terrestrial Module and Marine Module. Based on this decision, students then choose three modular elective courses.

Short descriptions of courses are available here.

Table 1: Structure of the study programme
Year of study  Study obligation Number  ECTS-credits (ECTS)
ECTS ECTS/Year of study
1. Compulsory Course 4 24 60
Modular Elective Course 2  12
Elective Course 2 12
Seminar 1 6
Practical Training 1 6
2. Compulsory Course 3 18 60
Modular Elective Course 1 6
Elective course 1 6
Master's Thesis 1 30
 
Table 2: 1st year of study
No. Courses ECTS Forms of contact hours
L SE T FW LW Total
1. Advanced Topics in Conservation Biology 6 30 15 15 - - 60
2. The Human Dimension in Conservation Sciences 6 30 - 10 10 10 60
3. Marine Ecology 6 30 - 10 10 10 60
4. Ecology of Terrestrial Ecosystems 6 30 - 10 10 10 60
5. Seminar 6 - 30 - - - 30
6. Practical Training 6            
7. Modular Elective Course 1 6            
8. Modular Elective Course 2 6            
9. Elective Course 1 6            
10. Elective Course 2 6            

Legend:
L = lecture, SE = seminar
T = tutorial, FW - field work, LW = laboratory work
ECTS = ECTS-credits

Table 3: 2nd year of study
No. Courses ECTS Forms of contact hours
L SE T FW LW Total
1. Conservation of Terrestrial Ecosystems 6 30 - 15 15 - 60
2. Marine Conservation Biology 6 30 - 10 10 10 60
3. Population Biology 6 30 - 30 - - 60
4. Modular Elective Course 3 6            
5. Elective Course 3 6            
6. Master's Thesis 30            
 
Table 4: Modular elective courses: Terrestrial module
(The list shows only elective courses offered in the last two academic years.)
No. Courses ECTS Form of contact hours
L SE T FW LW Total
1. Floral Biology and Pollination Ecology 6 30 - - 15 15 60
2. Environmental Microbiology 6 30 - - 10 5 45
3. Environmental Technology 6 20 10 15 - - 45
4. Ornithology 3 15 - - 10 5 30
5. Paleoecology 3 15 - 15 - - 30
6. Agroecology 6 30 15 15 - - 60
7. Entomology 3 15 - - 10 5 30
8. Herpetology 3 15 - - 5 10 30
9. Selected Topics in Terrestrial Zoology 6 30 - - 15 15 60

Table 5: Modular elective courses: Marine module
(The list shows only elective courses offered in the last two academic years.)

No. Courses ECTS Forms of contact hours
L SE T FW LW Total
1. Selected Topics in Marine Zoology 6 30 - - 15 15 60
2. Marine Botany 6 30 - - 15 15 60
3. Ecophysiology of Marine Animals 6 20 10 - 15 - 45
4. Marine Protected Areas: Social Aspects 3 20 10 - - - 30
5. Biotic Globalisation in Oceans 3 20 - - 10 - 30
6. Marine Ecotoxicology 3 15 - - 15 - 30
7. Conservation Ecology of Marine Mammals 3 15 - 5 - 10 30

Table 6: Elective courses
(The list shows only elective courses offered in the last two academic years.)

No. Courses ECTS Forms of contact hours
L SE T FW LW Total
1. Biology and Conservation of Large Vertebrates 6 30 - 10 10 10 60
2. Mathematical Biology 6 30 15 - - - 45
3. Biological Monitoring 6 30 - 10 5 - 45
4. Field Practicum 3 - - - - 45 45
5. Wildlife Health 6 30 - - - 15 45
6. Laboratory Practicum 3 - - - 30 - 30
7. Epizootiology and Parasitology 6 30 - - - 15 45
8. Multivariate Statistics in Ecology and Nature Conservation 6 30 - 15 - - 45
9. Conservation Genetics 6 30 15 15 - - 60

Practical Trainingtop

In their 1st year of study, students must undertake a 3-weeks-long practical training.

The purpose of the training is to transfer theoretical knowledge into practice.

Before starting the practical training, students must submit the application for practical training in the Student Office and at the end of the training submit a report. Students will be assigned a mentor in the organization who is responsible for the supervision and guidance of their work.

UP FAMNIT has signed agreements for student practical training with organizations in Slovenia and with an organization abroad. The list of organizations is available here.

Students should contact the preferred organization and arrange the practical training themselves. If students wish to perform their practical training in an organization with which UP FAMNIT has not yet signed an agreement, they must inquire whether the organization is ready to cooperate.  If the institution agrees to the cooperation, the student must inform assist. Peter Glasnović, PhD (peter.glasnovic@famnit.upr.si), who will set up an agreement.

Forms for practical training:

Admission requirements  top

Admission to the 1st year shall be granted to applicants having completed:

  1. a first-cycle study programme of Biodiversity at UP FAMNIT or a first-cycle study programme accumulating at least 180 ECTS-credits of which at least 30 ECTS-credits are in the fields of biology or environmental sciences;
  2. a first-cycle study programme accumulating at least 180 ECTS-credits in other similar study fields (biotechnical sciences, natural sciences) without meeting the conditions of paragraph 1. In this case, the candidate has to pass study obligations that are fundamental for enrolment, in an amount of from 10 to 30 ECTS-credits. Upon examination of the candidate’s previous study programme, the competent academic committee of UP FAMNIT shall define each candidate’s additional academic requirements on a case-by-case basis;
  3. a first-cycle study programme accumulating at least 180 ECTS-credits in other study fields that are not included in paragraphs 1 and 2. The candidate has to pass study obligations that are fundamental for enrolment, in an amount of from 10 to 60 ECTS-credits. Upon examination of the candidate’s previous study programme, the competent academic committee of UP FAMNIT shall define each candidate’s additional academic requirements on a case-by-case basis.

Admission may also be gained by an applicant having completed a comparable study abroad and who has been, in the process of recognition of their qualification and in line with the Recognition and Evaluation of Education Act, granted the right to continue their studies in the Master’s degree programme in Nature Conservation.

In the case of enrolment limitations, applicants shall be selected on the basis of the average grade obtained in their undergraduate studies.

Continuation of studies according to the transfer criteriatop

Transfers between study programmes are possible on the basis of the Higher Education Act, Criteria for Transferring between Study Programmes and in accordance with other regulations of this field.

The transition between study programmes is the enrolment in the higher year of the study programme, in case of leaving the education at the initial study programme and continuing the study process at another study program of the same degree. The transition takes into account the comparability of the study programmes and the completed study obligations of the candidate in the initial study program.

Access to Year 2 of the Master’s programme of Nature Conservation on the basis of the Criteria for Transferring between Study Programmes is granted to candidates, provided that the following conditions have been met:

  • the candidate fulfils the requirements for admission to the study programme of Nature Conservation;
  • completion of the first study programme which the candidate is transferring from ensures the acquisition of comparable competencies as those envisaged by the study programme of Nature Conservation; and
  • other conditions in accordance with the Criteria for Transferring between Study Programmes have also been met (a comparable course structure, course requirements completed).

Individual applications for transfer shall be considered by the relevant committee of UP FAMNIT. Apart from comparability between both fields of study, the committee shall also consider comparability between the study programmes, in accordance with the Criteria for Transferring between Study Programmes. The applicant may also be required to complete differential exams as defined by the relevant Faculty committee.

Enrolment on the basis of the Criteria for Transferring between Study Programmes is also open to candidates of a related study programme abroad who have been, in the process of recognition of their studies abroad, legally granted the right to continue their educational training in the study programme of Nature Conservation.

In the case of limited enrolment, applicants shall be selected on the basis of the average grade obtained during the study programme they are transferring from.

Advancement requirements  top

Advancement Requirements: For enrolment in the next study year it is necessary to collect at least 42 ECTS-credits in the current study year.

The Study Committee of the Faculty may permit a student who has not fulfilled all study obligations for the particular year to enrol to the next year. The student is obliged to submit a formal written request to the Study Committee. The progress may be approved if a student could not fulfil the obligations for justifiable reasons. Students may repeat a year only once during the study period. A minimum of 24 ECTS-credits in courses from the current year of study are required in order to repeat the year.

For registration of the master's thesis the student has to fulfil the requirements to a total of 30 ECTS-credits. The master's thesis has to be registered and the mentor selected by the end of the 2nd semester at the latest.

Requirements for the Completion of Studies: Students shall be deemed to have completed their studies when they fulfil all the prescribed study requirements to a total of 120 ECTS-credits.

Master’s Thesis: With the Master’s Thesis, the student demonstrates expertise and knowledge in the selected study programme, a critical understanding of theories, concepts and principles (basic as well as advanced), originality and creativity in the use and application of knowledge, and the capacity to analyse a problem and form suitable solutions.

Graduates' competenciestop

General competencies

  • the ability to prepare strategies and creative solutions to problems occurring in nature;
  • the ability to engage in critical thinking with regards to human interferences with nature which will enable them to tackle environmental issues and develop problem-solving strategies with a sense of responsibility towards the implementation of interventions in nature;
  • the ability to use technical terminology of the field;
  • the ability to use ICT technologies;
  • the ability to constructively cooperate with other professionals (teamwork);
  • the ability to use a foreign language for specific purposes.

Subject-specific competencies

  • the ability to solve scientific problems in the field of environmental protection and nature and biodiversity conservation;
  • the ability to identify the quality or "vitality" of various natural systems  and their flexibility;
  • the ability to assess the importance and role of different species in the ecosystems typical of the Mediterranean region;
  • the ability to assess the importance of different species and ecosystems in Slovenia and beyond;
  • the ability to assess the limits of tolerance of organisms and ecosystems to harmful human impacts;
  • the ability to predict, on the basis of insights into the structure of and processes within ecosystems, the effects of various impacts, both human as well as those triggered by global changes;
  • the ability to draft proposals for the methods of monitoring the status of species and ecosystems;
  • the ability to prepare strategies for conservation and protection of species and ecosystems, as well as to improve of the situation in cases of degradation;
  • the ability to decide on issues relating to nature and the environment;
  • the ability to design strategies for managing natural systems.

Graduate employment opportunities  top

Graduates will acquire an in-depth knowledge of the fundamental elements of the profession and of the related methodological approaches and policies. Graduates have excellent job opportunities in all areas which require knowledgeable professionals and experts in nature conservation, both locally and internationally. In particular, they will be employable in positions requiring mastery of knowledge and methods in the field of nature conservation and environmental protection, and conservation of high biodiversity:

  • in research laboratories, as researchers,
  • in administrative institutions, as professional associates (ministries, inspection services, various institutes, municipal administrations),
  • in various parks, as environmental supervisors,
  • in museums, as professional associates,
  • in zoological and botanical gardens, as professional associates,
  • in national and international NGOs,
  • in private businesses (nurseries, family-run farms),
  • at universities, as university staff.