Centre for Ecology and Evolution


NERC funded postgraduate short training courses

The Natural History Museum are running courses which are designed to benefit a wide range of PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and early environmental sciences researchers who wish to enhance their taxonomic expertise and practical identification skills for botanical research, or taxonomic skills for freshwater ecology, research and water quality monitoring, as well as a course offered on molecular techniques for taxonomy. 

The courses are delivered by NHM taxonomic specialists, and by working closely with NHM scientists, participants will gain expertise to meet the needs and challenges of their current and future careers.

The NHM will be running three postgraduate short training courses in taxonomy and field skills for botanical and freshwater research, and molecular techniques in February-March 2014. 

These are supported by NERC as part of their pilot Postgraduate & Professional Skills Development Awards initiative. 

Full details of the below courses can be found by downloading the below word file:

List of courses available 

1. Molecular Techniques for Taxonomy Course

Dates: 17th-21st February and 3rd-7th March 2014
Target audience: Environmental Science students 
Application deadline: 10th January 2014 
Number of places: 10.

This course will provide participants with the basic practical skills, understanding and expertise necessary to obtain DNA from a variety of specimen types including zoological/mammalian, entomological (non-destructive sampling critical for rare or limited material, botanical and microbial (environmental). It is intended to give a general introduction to Molecular analysis providing the participants with the technical understanding, which underpins the practical applications and thus allows interpretation and optimisation of results.

2. Taxonomic Principles and Tools in Botanical Research Course

Dates: 10th-14th March 2014 
Target audience: Environmental Science students
Application deadline: 10th January 2014 
Number of places: 25.

This course will deliver training on fundamental taxonomic principles and contemporary issues in the subject together with training in practical identification skills tailored to the requirements of participants. Specialist training is offered in vascular plants (flowering plants and ferns), bryophytes, lichens, marine macroalgae (red, brown and green seaweeds) and freshwater algae (cyanobacteria and diatoms) and will be delivered to small groups of maximum five students based on their choice expressed in the application form. The course is taught by NHM taxonomic specialists and makes use of the outstanding Botanical collections of the Museum. This one week course comprises two days of lectures and demonstrations, complemented by three days of extensive hands-on practical sessions, including one day in the field followed by two days of herbarium/laboratory-based work.

3. Taxonomic Skills and Field Techniques for Freshwater Ecology and Quality Course

Dates: 17th-21st March 2014 
Target audience: Environmental Science students
Application deadline: 10th January 2014 
Number of places: 15.

This course will deliver training in taxonomic skills and field techniques for freshwater sciences and ecology, and water quality with training in practical identification skills tailored to the requirements of the participants. The specialist training is offered for freshwater algae, diatoms, cyanobacteria, aquatic lichens, protists and ciliates. It will also provide an overview of appropriate data analysis methods, quantitative methodologies, microscopy, and the importance of matching sampling design and strategy to the research question. Participants will acquire an awareness of the diversity of freshwater habitats and the need to adopt appropriate sampling techniques according to research question and habitat characteristics. The course is delivered by NHM experts in freshwater biology and biodiversity research. The course will entail two days of lectures, a one-day field excursion and two days of extensive hands-on practical sessions of microscopy, lab-based and herbaria work.


The courses are available to all environmental sciences students, postdoctoral researchers and early-career researchers, but priority will be given to those with NERC funding or whose PhD award was NERC funded.


The Natural History Museum, South Kensington, London, SW7 5BD (Department of Life Sciences seminar rooms, laboratories and herbaria). 

Application deadline

10th January 2014

How to book a place

Please download the word file for more information on booking.