University of Chester

Programme Specification
Applied Wildlife Forensics PGCert
2017 - 2018

Postgraduate Certificate

Applied Wildlife Forensics

Applied Wildlife Forensics

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester.

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory, Residential and Open,

1 year FT; 2 years PT

3 Years

Annual - October


17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Biological Sciences

There are no subject specific benchmarks for Wildlife Forensic Science. Given this gap, the programme uses relevant elements of the QAA Subject Benchmark Statement in Forensic Science (QAA 2012) as a guide to appropriate learning outcomes for the programme.

There are no subject specific benchmarks for Wildlife Conservation. The programme is designed to be consistent with Section 2.1 Category 2 of the QAA (2015) framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which identifies the necessary descriptors for Level 7 (Masters taught degrees) training.

This programme complies with the credits per module and for award as recommended in the QAA National Qualifications Framework (NQF), and with the NQF qualifications descriptions for each Level. The module descriptors clearly demonstrate the competencies expected at each Level, and the amount of student effort required. The Level characteristics as described by the QAA in the National Qualifications Framework also relate closely to the overarching characteristics of learning as defined by the University of Chester.

The construction of this programme's learning outcomes, knowledge, skills and content together with the methods of learning, teaching and assessment have been informed by the QAA's ‘Master’s degree characteristics’ guidelines and advice document (2015).


Biological Sciences

Wednesday 3rd December 2014

The programme aims to:

  • Provide students with advanced knowledge and experience of techniques and their applications relevant to wildlife forensics to underpin future professional development;

  • Enable students to gain a high level of scientific knowledge in specialist areas of conservation including genetics, wildlife crime, and field research techniques in wildlife forensics;

  • Develop a clear recognition of the constraints and opportunities of the environment in which professional wildlife forensics is conducted;
  • Increase employability in the wildlife forensics by development of a combination of key practical skills, including an understanding of careers building, independent learning ability, and an appreciation of the value of professional networking; and

  • Develop an informed and critical approach to evaluation and application of scientific developments in the field of wildlife  forensics;

Knowledge and Understanding

FHEQ Level 7

Have advanced knowledge and critical understanding of subject disciplines, knowledge, investigative techniques and research methods relevant to Wildlife Forensics including those appropriate to:

  • the use of genetic technologies in wildlife forensics (BI7130)
  • the application of statistical and geographic informations systems (GIS) techniques to wildlife forensics (BI7138)
  • the use of wildlife forensics in management of wildlife crime (BI7131)


Cognitive skills

FHEQ Level 7

Graduates from this programme will be able to:

  • analyse, synthesise, evaluate, apply and reflect upon information gained from academic and professional literature, professional organisations, and practical exercises/experiences, in order to propose solutions to problems in wildlife conservation (BI7138);
  • self-actuate and self direct their actions and develop originality in problem solving (BI7131, BI7130);

Practical Skills and Professional Skills

FHEQ Level 7

Graduates from this programme will be able to deploy academic knowledge and understanding of the technical aspects of wildlife forensics into effective actions that will be encountered in the professional contexts that wildlife forensic scientists encounter in the profession. 

Graduates from this programme will:

  • have understanding of the limits of their own knowledge, and how this influences analysis and interpretations based on that knowledge (BI7138).
  • have skills of self-evaluation to understand own strengths and weaknesses, challenge received opinion, and develop own criteria and judgement (BI7131, BI7138).
  • have an effective self-critical attitude in planning, carrying out and reporting investigations (BI7130, BI7131).
  • have key/transferable skills and confidence to undertake independent learning, further training, develop existing skills, and acquire new competences necessary for continuing professional development and the assumption of significant responsibility within relevant organisations (BI7131).

Graduates from this programme will be able to:

  • effectively interpret and communicate complex technical information, arguments, and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences (BI7131).
  • use IT to manipulate quantitative and qualitative information to solve defined problems (BI7138, BI7130).
  • work effectively within a team, giving and receiving information and ideas, and modifying responses as appropriate (BI7131).
  • manage resources for effective learning (BI7130, BI7131, BI7138).

The Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Wildlife Forensics involves the study of the three taught modules (60 credits at Level 7):

  • BI7130 Conservation Genetics;
  • BI7131 Wildlife Crime;
  • BI7138 Biodiversity Informatics

 Each module comprises 200 hours of total student study time, typically comprising:

  • 21 hours intensive course of lectures, seminars, group discussions, laboratory/field activities;

  • 10 hours of tutorial support;

  • 169 hours of directed self-study

Students prepare an assignment using the tutor-prepared Module Text, accompanying online learning resources and primary research journals. The specific assessment requirements for each module are set out in the module descriptors and supplemented with further detailed information in the Module texts.

The modular content of this programme is designed to enable learners to develop specialist knowledge required for careers in the major sub-disciplines of Wildlife Forensics, and so allow for further career advancement. Students not only follow a core programme covering advanced techniques, concepts and current issues relevant to wildlife forensics, but also have the opportunity to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills in more specialised areas of the discipline (e.g. conservation genetics). The programme places a strong emphasis on the development of independent research technique, practical skills, and the ability to present scientific data.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
BI7130 7 Conservation Genetics 20 Comp
BI7131 7 Wildlife Crime 20 Comp
BI7138 7 Biodiversity Informatics 20 Comp

The Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Wildlife Forensics requires the accumulation of sixty (60) credits from three taught modules (at Level 7). Students should take the following 3 modules to meet this criterion:

BI7130 Conservation Genetics (20 credits);

BI7131 Wildlife Crime (20 credits);

BI7138 Biodiversity Informatics (20 credits).




Applicants should normally have one of the following:

  • An Honours degree (minimum 2.1) containing a significant content of forensics/ecological/behavioural/biological science or a relevant postgraduate qualification.
  • Substantial relevant work experience, together with evidence of recent study or writing at an appropriate level

Overseas Candidates should also be competent in English and have achieved, as a minimum, one of the following standards: IELTS-6.5; TOEFL – 60.

 Potential students may be invited to attend for interview.

This programme complies with the credits per module and for award as recommended in the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) as identified by the QAA, and with the NQF qualifications descriptions for each Level. The module descriptors clearly demonstrate the competencies expected at each Level, and the amount of student effort required. The Level characteristics as described by the QAA in the National Qualifications Framework also relate closely to the overarching characteristics of learning as defined by the University of Chester.

Although there are no QAA subject specific benchmark statements for wildlife forensics, this programme's learning outcomes, knowledge, skills and content together with the methods of learning, teaching and assessment have been informed by the QAA's ‘Master’s degree characteristics’ guidelines and advice document (March 2015) and where appropriate the Subject Benchmark statements for graduates in Forensic science (QAA 2012), specifically:

Students will have demonstrated the following knowledge and understanding:

  • a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice;
  • a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship;
  • originality in the application of knowledge, and a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline;
  • conceptual understanding that enables critical evaluation of current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline; 
  • a familiarity with the moral and ethical issues, and the constraints and opportunities of the environment in which professional practice wildlife forensic science is undertaken;

Students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  • deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;  
  • continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.

And students will have acquired the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:

  •  the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility ;
  • decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations;
  • the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

The programme will be delivered by blended learning in the form of learning packages, web-conferencing, e-mail, discussion boards, telephone contact, and residential schools . The Module Texts (supplemented by set texts) will provide the main learning materials and the University Moodle platform will be used to provide the learning framework, information on work patterns, additional support materials and the platform for communication throughout the programme. Laboratory-based and field-based practical exercises which contribute to the Learning Outcomes of some modules will be undertaken within the appropriate Residential School, which will be scheduled at the start and end of each module.

Members of the Department of Biological Sciences have many years of experience in offering distinctive programmes of study at diploma, undergraduate, postgraduate and post-experience levels. The Department has considerable experience of supporting the learning needs of mature students and of students generally with ‘non-standard entry’ qualifications. Considerable experience has been achieved with students with limited entry qualifications both in terms of academic performance and personal development.  

Residential Schools 

At the start of each module, students will attend a Residential School at which the module content (including support provision, learning materials and assessment details) will be described. In addition, this will provide an opportunity for the delivery of some subject matter and, where appropriate, relevant practical and field-based work. Cohort meetings will also be scheduled to take place at the Residential Schools. Students will be encouraged to form self-help groups (communicating through e-mail, discussion boards or telephone) and these will be explained and organised at the Residential School.

Learning Packages

(a) The main learning materials will be in the form of Module Texts supported by a Programme Handbook. The Module Texts will contain a range of materials (e.g. text, articles, data handling exercises and so on) and will be augmented by on-line learning. Students will be encouraged to carry out self-assessment which will be progressively developed using a variety of self-assessment questions (SAQs) where appropriate by module. Answers to these questions – together with explanatory notes where appropriate – will give valuable on-going feedback to the students as they progress through the learning materials.

(b) On-line learning through the University Moodle platform.

On-line facilities (using the University Moodle platform) will be used to provide the following (where applicable by module):

  • A structured weekly guide to the module content
  • Additional self-assessment questions
  • Assessment details and guidance (e.g. on presenting the assignment(s)
  • Access to distant, appropriate websites
  • Access to Library resources 
  • Access to the Discussion Board
  • E-mail links to the tutors 
  • Text references
  • Access to the support infrastructure

 E-mail seminars  Time will be given each week to student/staff interaction via e-mail. Students will be allocated a time slot during which the module tutor will be able to answer e-mails concerning the module content and/or assessment.

Practical work  Where appropriate, there will be practical exercises/laboratory workshops set within the modules which will be performed at the relevant Residential School.

Visiting Lecturers Visiting Lecturers may be used to support the delivery of the programme in certain modules. This will provide expertise in specialist areas and will include contributions from a range of personnel involved in various conservation disciplines. 

Assessment Methods

The assessment methods employed all place great emphasis (as shown in their assessment criteria) on the learner's ability to demonstrate skills through the production of coherent responses either to problems or tasks set. Examples include;

  • Written assignments that critically review and cite key research papers;
  • Case studies which identify and formulate appropriate responses and intervention strategies to wildlife forensic and management issues;

This programme is designed to equip graduates with the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding to pursue careers in the discipline of wildlife conservation. In addition, the transferable skills embedded throughout the programme will benefit graduates considering a change of career and equip them to enter other areas of employment. Graduates of this programme should be able to:

  • deal with complex issues systematically and creatively, and communicate  their findings to specialists and non-specialist groups;
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in problem-solving across a variety of areas;
  • continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level and possess the necessary qualities and transferable skills at an advanced level;
  • To work in multidisciplinary teams to solve complex wildlife conservation issues; 

Postgraduate study involves the development of reflective practice, such that the student can modify personal professional activity, critically evaluate scientific information sources and methodologies, and possess the ability to perform such activities autonomously.

The programmes of study in the Department of Biological Sciences fully embrace the University’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity. The  University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.  The ultimate objective of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for.  At a departmental level all programmes are developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:

  • Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. 
  • Each module and programme is developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.
  • There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Department works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Learning Support Plans.
  • The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues.  Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.
  • Supportive formative exercises may be presented in modules to help give all students an equal chance of succeeding.
  • Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking and the blue sticker scheme also enhance equal opportunity to all students.
  • In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements.
  • All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.
  • All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of the Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise. 


Back - to previous page  Print - launches the print options panel