News | Wednesday, 5th September 2012

UK's last wildlife recording course saved

MMU to offer unique Biological Recording awards

The only academic course in the country which teaches people how to identify plants and animals in the field has been saved for UK science.

Manchester Metropolitan University is to run the courses in Biological Recording in association with the Field Studies Council (FSC) and the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI).

Biological Recording is the accurate identification and documenting of biodiversity. Hundreds of British ecologists have gone on to carry out invaluable work for the likes of the National Trust, the Wildlife Trusts, the Natural History Museum after graduating from the programmes which have been run for 16 years at FSC centres by the Birmingham University.

But changes in the research strategy at Birmingham had put the course’s future under threat.


Now Manchester Metropolitan, with its own strong tradition of conservation and ecology, has stepped in to offer the qualifications to existing and future students.

Professor Phil Wheater, head of the School of Science and Environment at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “We are delighted to be taking over these scientifically important courses, which offer high quality field skills, species identification and record interpretation.

“Biological Recording is a perfect fit for MMU as it dovetails with existing courses at undergraduate and postgraduate in Countryside Management, Conservation Biology, and Geographical Information Systems.”

Transferring students

The transferred course will be largely unchanged for students entering in 2012 and MMU has agreed to take around 200 existing students transferring from Birmingham as well as new students applying now for September entry.

The courses cater for people in full time employment and attended by students from all parts of Britain, Ireland and mainland Europe. The programme covers various levels of study: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip), Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert), University Certificate (Ucert) and day schools. The courses are taught part time and at weekends at a ‘field centre’ in Shrewsbury.

Sue Townsend for The Field Studies Council, said: “We are delighted that a new home has been found for this well received, unique course. The programme is unchanged and retains all the superb elements of biological recording and species identification as delivered at our centres by national experts.”

Dr Sarah Whild, programme director, said: “The programme is designed to give students the ability to use and collect biological records and subject them to critical analysis. It has helped many students to gain new employment or promotion in jobs in ecological and biological recording, especially those with an emphasis on high quality field skills, species identification and record interpretation.”

In demand

Alex Lockton of the BSBI, said: “We are extremely relieved to see the biological programmes continuing, as are all the naturalists societies in Britain and Ireland. The need for good, accredited, field skills has never been higher, and these programmes are one of the main providers. We look forward to the developments at Manchester, and assure our support and that of many other naturalists and conservationists throughout the region.”

The Masters (three years part-time) and the Postgraduate Certificate (one year part-time) are gaining increasing recognition by employers such as government agencies, environmental consultants, councils and record centres. They are strongly vocational programmes - offering participants a chance to upgrade their skills and gain a recognised qualification.


For further information, please contact the Press Office at Manchester Metropolitan University: Gareth Hollyman 0161 247 3406 – 07748 111322.

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