The MSc Environmental Studies course in Conservation Practice jointly offered by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) and TDU, equips natural and social science students with interdisciplinary knowledge, perspectives, and skills to understand and address conservation challenges. This course is curated to create young environmental leaders whose interdisciplinary skills will add value to corporate social responsibility and sustainability offices, development and conservation NGOs, and government line departments dealing with environment and development portfolios. In academic institutions, these leaders will lend a practical edge.
Is Conservation Practice just another environmental course?
No, it isn’t. It is the environmental course that walks the interdisciplinary talk. Even as environment and ecology degrees in conventional and new liberal arts and science universities experiment with interdisciplinarity, they continue to be research-oriented. Ahead of its time, but just in time, this programme focuses on conservation-skilling backed by rigorous socio-ecological knowledge. What you study matters; but where you study, and practice it, matters more. This course offers students the novel opportunity to interact with faculty who have shunned disciplinary silos over two decades and mixed natural and social science theories and methods to generate conservation and sustainability knowledge for policy and practice stakeholders.
ATREE is India’s pioneer in interdisciplinary conservation and sustainability studies, and has consistently ranked in the top 20 environmental policy think tanks since 2014, by the University of Pennsylvania. ATREE has also received the 2019 UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize that recognizes its contributions to participatory approaches in conservation and sustainability. The degree will be awarded by TDU, a Karnataka Government and UGC-recognised university in health and plant sciences. TDU is a National Centre of Excellence of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (GOI) and aims to transcend academic boundaries and engage with traditional knowledge. The Conservation Practice program is a product of this combination of ‘inter’ and ‘trans’ disciplinary pioneering, novelty and legacy.
The Conservation Practice Masters program offers undergraduates a novel, career-centric and practice-oriented post-graduation degree. The 80 credit program comprises 62 credits from three classroom semesters and 18 credits from one project semester. Our ‘classrooms’ are indoor and outdoor spaces in campuses, and in urban and rural field sites. Experiential and immersive group learning is a practical thread that runs through these three knowledge, perspectives and skills semesters. Student groups will pursue ‘mini projects’ or sectoral immersions in these semesters that apply or test concepts, frameworks and methods in the field. The final semester ‘project’ involves an internship with partner organizations, or fieldwork leading to a thesis. For details on the courses offered, see our ‘Coursework’ section below.
The Conservation Practice course transcends disciplinary boundaries. It enables equitable and sustainable conservation solutions. The course offers an exceptional opportunity for students who are driven and dedicated towards conservation and human wellbeing efforts, as part of corporate institutions, NGOs, government agencies, think tanks, and academia. Students who are enthusiastic about tackling biodiversity loss, climate change, urban water quality or sustainable farming will particularly appreciate the practical proficiencies offered by this program that combines academic expertise and vital field skills.
The Conservation Practice program equips students for diverse careers in NGOs, social responsibility and sustainability offices, environment and sustainability branches of the government, environmental management and consulting organisations, and academia. Graduates of the program can thus be gainfully employed at private and public sector organisations that engage with conservation and sustainability. For more information on career opportunities for graduates of the Conservation Practice Master, visit our ‘Careers’ section below.
We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds. We value diversity, gender equity and the representation of minority communities; women and persons from underprivileged groups are especially encouraged to apply. We are also accepting applications from international students.
At minimum, students must have secured an average of 55% in their bachelor’s degree done in a related field (details on our admissions page). To apply, you must include the following documents: academic transcripts of your bachelor’s degree, grade XII and X board marksheets, your CV, other certificates or diplomas you would like to include, and a statement of purpose (SoP) written by you motivating why you would like to participate in the course. An entrance exam will also be conducted. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for a personal interview before the Admissions Committee.
You can find more details on the eligibility criteria and application process in our Admissions Section below.
Important Dates and Deadlines:
The total fee for the Masters programme is 3,50,000 INR (Rs. 2,22,500 Course Fees + Rs. 1,27,500 Lab and Field Facilities Fees) for Indian and SAARC country students. Students from developed countries have a different fee structure. A breakup of the fees can be accessed here. The fees to apply for the programme is 500 INR. More details on the application process can be found on the admissions section below.
The Conservation Practice course comprises 80 credits in total, of which 18 are from the project semester and the remaining are from field and practice oriented classroom semesters. The first classroom semester comprises interdisciplinary foundation courses including ecology, sociology for conservation and sustainability ,environmental science, environmental economics theory of change, philosophy of science, philosophy of practice, research methodologies, and scientific communication. The second classroom semester comprises domain knowledge courses on biodiversity, food systems, and ecosystem services as well as perspectives courses on conservation ethics, impact assessment, political ecology, and social-ecological systems. The third and final semester includes practice-oriented domain skills courses on landscape restoration, conservation technologies, decision science, approaches to conservation, climate change, and conservation psychology. In addition, during this third semester students are offered a range of electives on project cycle management, adaptive learning, effective advocacy, ethnobotany, transdisciplinarity, environmental humanities, and medicinal plants to choose from based on their interests. A tentative list of courses can be downloaded here.
The fourth semester of the course is a project semester and students choose between undertaking a thesis under a supervisor from ATREE or TDU based on mutual interests and faculty expertise, or participating in an internship with a partner organization. The ‘thesis stream’ will involve conducting research at ATREE’s Community Conservation centres (CCCs) in the Western Ghats, Western Coast, and the Eastern Himalayas. ATREE set up the CCCs to aid the production of research that is pertinent to and usable by local communities in their conservation efforts. Furthermore, they provide a space for communities to interact with researchers and support conservation education programmes, collaboration in conservation efforts as well as long term socio-ecological monitoring. The ‘internship stream’ will enable students to learn from the expertise of partner organizations in NGO, corporate, government or academic sectors by undertaking an internship at a chosen organisation. Whether a student chooses the ‘thesis stream’ or the ‘internship stream,’ they will be given the opportunity to apply classroom learning to real world situations and partake in experiential learning.
The Ecoinformatics, Biosystematics, Conservation Genetics and Water and Science Lab at ATREE and the Research Hospital at TDU offer world class facilities for research in conservation and sustainability.
The Conservation Practice Masters is open to students from diverse backgrounds. ATREE has an affirmative policy that encourages women and persons from underprivileged groups to apply. Admissions will be made in this affirmative spirit, with due diligence to the Government of Karnataka’s reservation policy that TDU follows. Besides Indian students, we are currently also accepting applications from international students. TDU is registered with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO), and will facilitate registration of foreign students with the FRRO.
In order to be eligible to do the Conservation Practice Masters, you must fulfill the below mentioned criteria:
If you are satisfied that you fulfill the above mentioned criteria, we encourage you to apply! Your application must include the following:
The Statement of Purpose (SoP) details the student’s interest and motivations, relevance of recent and current activities to the programme and academic interests and background. The SoP will be assessed for (a) relevance (b) originality and (c) clarity of understanding. The SoP assesses an applicant’s environmental interests and enthusiasm, and their analytical and practical inclinations in engaging with conservation and sustainability questions and challenges. The SoP must, in essay form (750-1000 words), answer these questions.
In answering these questions, please introduce us to your student career, your environmental concerns, interests, aspirations and activities. Finally, tell us why interdisciplinarity appeals to you as a research or practice approach.
Please submit the above mentioned documents and the completed application form via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ensure your application is submitted between by 30th July at the latest. You can download the application form from the website or send an email request to email@example.com. Account details for payment of application fees of 500 INR are mentioned in the application form.
After you have submitted your application, and if it clears all eligibility criteria, you will automatically be registered to do an online entrance exam. The multiple choice exam will consist of the following broad themes/sections:
The exam will take place between 15th-20th August. We will notify applicants.
After your application and entrance exam scores are assessed by the admissions committee, shortlisted applicants will be invited for a personal interview. Personal interviews will take place between 1st to 6th September.
Fee structure differs based on nationality of applicant. Fee structure for all applicants can be accessed from the table below.
Please note that this does not include the costs a student may incur in conducting research or undertaking optional field visits.
Students have the opportunity to interact with highly experienced faculty from both ATREE and TDU. A list of all faculty members along with links to their profiles can be accessed below. National and international scholars and practitioners from ATREE and TDU’s networks will also be invited to teach and mentor.
Besides foundational knowledge in social and natural sciences, our graduates will accumulate domain knowledge and skills across a spectrum of conservation and sustainability themes and sectors ranging from forests and farms; biodiversity, ecosystems services and human well-being; environmental ethics and social justice; policy, governance and impact assessment; ecological restoration and landscaping; climate change; and field and machine learning technologies. A wide range of competencies in these fields makes our graduates competitive and sought-after candidates for roles in conservation and sustainability initiatives across the country. These include,
ATREE and TDU are in the process of formalising partnerships with corporate, NGO, government and academic networks; campus placements will be initiated through them.