APLORI’s main purpose is capacity building for conservation in West Africa. We do this primarily by running a Masters in Conservation Biology. Although we grant degrees through the University of Jos we are an autonomous research institute answering directly to the Vice-Chancellor of the University. Our degree is European standard with teaching from invited international academics, exams set and run by staff of the St Andrews University, and external examiners from international universities such as Edinburgh, Ghent, Groningen and Oxford. We provide a proper Masters education without compromise to fully equip tomorrow’s conservationists.
We teach a small number of students every year, all on scholarship provided by our endowment from the Leventis Conservation Foundation. The course takes a year and involves 6 months taught and 6 months research. Our teaching is carried out by a team of academics who come from all over the world coordinated and supported by teaching fellows based at APLORI and the University of St Andrews. Typically an academic will come for a couple of weeks to teach a module at APLORI, and then the academic serves as a supervisor for one of the students during their research project. This gives a diverse and high level of teaching for the students as well as establishing strong international links for our graduates. Many of our graduates end up in PhD programs in international universities as a consequence.
The taught course consists of the principles of ecology and conservation biology with an underlying core of quantitative methods. In particular we teach scientific thinking, experimental design, and statistical analysis (in R) so that our students learn to be proper conservation scientists. They then carry out a 6 month research project to apply their skills and to give practical experience of solving the scientific problems they will encounter as practicing conservation biologists. We particularly emphasise field skills and teach a range of practical conservation skills from survey techniques to bird ringing.
Teaching is based at the A.P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute on the outskirts of Jos. This is a well equiped field station providing a lecture theatre and seminar rooms, labs, a library, and student and guest accomodation within a small reserved natural area suitable for research and field classes. We also have a field station in the nearby Yankari National park which provides access to savannah habitats which still retain much of the large fauna of West Africa.