Welcome to the website for the Master’s degree in Conservation Biology, with specialization in Ecology, Monitoring, and Management of Ecosystems (EMME) of the Université Bourgogne-Franche Comté, France.

Supported by the Programme Investissements d’Avenir, this new degree offers an innovative set of theoretical and practical courses in Conservation Ecology and Ecosystem Management.

You will find on this website all the relevant information about the content of the different courses, rules for registration, the organisation and implementation of courses, field trips, various events for students, etc.

Regularly updated, this website will allow you to follow the latest developments in our master’s program.

The EMME aims to provide a critical and concept-based understanding of the structure, function, monitoring, and management of ecosystems under various natural and anthropogenic pressures, within the framework of biodiversity conservation. Half of the second year is devoted to a personal Master thesis project based on an internship with a research body.

The course is taught and assessed in English by university lecturers and specialists from the professional world. The only module that cannot be guaranteed to be taught in English is Environmental Law and Economy. For anglophone students, both this and the Scientific English module can be adapted.

The EMME is a two-year master’s course. In the first year, the course design is centred around the idea that biodiversity conservation must be based on a multi-level knowledge approach, mixing key disciplines in ecology, and including recent technical advances in numerical ecology, molecular ecology, wildlife monitoring and ecosystem management. The course content is rooted in our established strengths in functional ecology (ecosystem structure and function, population and community ecology), paleoecology (long-term evolution of ecosystems), ecotoxicology (fate and effects of pollutants), epidemiology (transmission of zoonotic pathogens), conservation biology (status and threats of patrimonial animal and plant species), numerical ecology, ecological modelling and research design. The master degree program is further enriched by input from professional conservationists and managers, with the aim to put courses in the broader context of project management and decision making procedures.

The objective of the course is to develop students’ abilities to:

  • Critically engage with concepts and theory in functional ecology from interdisciplinary perspectives at an advanced scientific level,
  • Critically assess the ability of populations and communities to react, cope with and adjust to environmental changes occurring over different spatial and time scales,
  • Appreciate the opportunities offered by new technological developments for the future of research on ecosystem monitoring and management,
  • Combine theory, hypotheses, methods, data and field work to identify and develop innovative applied or fundamental research questions and designs.

Teaching consists of lectures, seminars, class tutorials and practical training in the field and in the laboratory, which provide in-depth exploration of key issues. The teaching philosophy is to stimulate discussion and debate between academic staff and students to identify and explore theory, methods and practices in an academic space that encourages a critical dialogue.

Field courses allow students to apply in the field the methods and ideas presented in the classroom. Each year, they will attend one week-long fieldtrip and several field courses. One of these field courses (in the framework of the teaching unit “Conservation Biology and Ecosystem Management”) allows them to test a hypothesis dealing with the potential impact of anthropogenic disturbances on plant or animal populations or communities, in the context of the various activities taking place in the Jura Mountains, known for their outstanding landscapes, typical ecosystems (e.g. peatbogs, wood-pastures) and protected species (e.g. boreal lynx). Other field courses address the assessment and the management of ecosystems, and the monitoring of plant and animal wildlife.

Students must pass the examinations taken during the first year (i.e. obtain 60 ECTS) in order to proceed without further selection into the second year.

The second year is mainly devoted to the thesis project within a research team or a professional structure (NGOs, consultancy companies, governmental agencies…) with the support of an academic supervisor, specialist of the related research domain. Half of this second year is devoted to researching and writing a thesis of about 30 pages. The research topic will be devised at the end of the first year. The thesis accounts for half the marks for the second year.

Graduate destinations

The aim of the course is to train future scientific leaders in functional ecology, ecotoxicology and epidemiology as well as future managers and policy officers in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management. In that respect, the course combines functional ecology and conservation biology as two major disciplines with some other relevant topics – paleoecology, ecotoxicology, epidemiology, ethics and deontology, epistemology, environmental regulation and socioeconomics of conservation, structure and management of environmental organisations, in addition to the hard science of biodiversity.

The Master’s Alumni Office helps alumni keep in touch with each other and organises alumni events. You can discover our previous classes !

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.


The EMME is run by the Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté – a regional collective of universities including the Université de Franche-Comté (UFC) and the Université de Bourgogne (UB). Practically, almost all of the lectures and teaching will be provided by UFC in Besançon. The key exception to this is the Behavioural Ecology and Sustainable Interactions module in M1, which is taught at UB. Many field trips will also be based away from Besançon, with students reimbursed for travel and (in the case of multi-day trips) provided with accommodation. Students may also be based away from Besançon for the internships in M1 and M2, depending on the research body they are working with.

Steering committee

International Students

The course is open to strong international applicants with the required level of English. The course is almost entirely in English, with all exams and assessments in English, though at least a basic level of French is recommended for daily life. Offers will be made provisionally on the condition that applicants are able to secure a visa from the French government. Any questions specifically pertaining to the process of moving to Besançon and registering with the university as an international student should be directed to the UBFC International Mobility coordinator. They can currently be reached at this address: mailys.claudio@ubfc.fr

Registration fees for international students for the academic year of 2022/2023 are €335, the same as local students, but these fees will increase after this year.