PgCert Biological Recording

Build a host of specialist collection, identification and analytical skills with our part-time Postgraduate Certificate. You’ll not only help to shape environmental policy – you’ll shape your future career too.

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Biological recording is vital for biodiversity conservation. In this period of rapid climate change, the ability to collect, manage and interpret information about our natural world has never been more important. This highly practical course will give you all the skills you need to make a valuable and rewarding contribution in this specialist area.

Developed in association with the Field Studies Council (FSC) and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, this course is largely field-based, as you’d expect with a focus on biological recording and identification skills. You’ll study part-time over a minimum of one (but usually two) years, taking your core theory units at the FSC headquarters in Preston Montford, near Shrewsbury. You’ll add to these with three field-based option units, delivered as weekend courses at FSC centres around the UK.

It’s a highly vocational course that offers an ideal way to sharpen up the field skills you’ll need to take your career in the direction you want. With advanced knowledge of the ‘why’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ of collecting and maintaining biological records of the areas that interest you most, you’ll leave us equipped with the expertise to pursue a rewarding future in a specialist field.

Features and Benefits

Accreditations, Awards and Endorsements

Career Prospects

With the high-quality field and record interpretation skills you’ll develop on this course, you’ll be ready to apply for specialist roles in ecology and biological recording. Our former graduates have an excellent record of recruitment and promotion in these fields.

Careers support is available from the moment you join us, and for up to three years after you finish your course. Dedicated careers and employability advisors in the Department of Natural Sciences and the University Careers Service will help you find the role that’s right for you.

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Entry requirements

You’ll need a good UK honours degree – at least a 2:2 – or the international equivalent, in a relevant subject. We might also consider your application if you have several years’ professional or voluntary experience in a related field.

Course details

Because of the seasonal nature of this work, you’ll study part-time over a minimum of one (but usually two) years.

You’ll study two core units – two per year – at the Field Studies Council (FSC) headquarters in Preston Montford, near Shrewsbury.

You’ll also study three option units in total over two years, choosing from a list of around 30. These are delivered as weekend courses at FSC centres around the UK and you can attend on a residential or non-residential basis. Depending on which ones you choose, you’ll be away for two or three nights.

Core units

  • Biological Recording and Surveying
  • Research Methods and Design

Option units
Students may select three units from the list below during Years 1 and 2:

  • Difficult higher plants
  • Difficult Invertebrates
  • Bird Survey Techniques
  • Bryophytes
  • Site Assessment using Vegetation
  • Site Assessment using Invertebrates
  • QGIS
  • Using a Flora
  • Identifying Mosses and Liverworts
  • Surveying Terrestrial Invertebrates for Biological Recording
  • Identifying Woodland Plants
  • Identification of Bats
  • Identification of Solitary Bees
  • Aquatic Plants
  • Grasses, Sedges and Rushes
  • Plants of Bogs and Mires
  • Land Mammal Identification
  • Songbird Identification
  • Identification of Macrofungi
  • Identifying Hoverflies
  • NVC Grasslands
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Introduction to Phase 1 Surveys
  • Identifying Lichens
  • Identifying Odonata and Lepidoptera
  • Identifying trees
  • Identifying the Sedges and their Allies
  • Fern Identification
  • Identifying Coastal Plants
  • Identifying Marine Species and Habitats: the Biotope Approach
  • NVC Mires and Heaths

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Research Methods and Design
This unit extends your knowledge and understanding of the research process and develops your ability to carry out independent research and critically appraise literature.
Biological Recording and Surveying

Students will gain an understanding of the methods for managing data in biological recording and its context and use within the wider environmental and conservation sectors. Through theoretical and practical applications, students will learn best practise in data creation, compilation, organisation and dissemination of records as they apply to a variety of taxonomical groups.

Placement options

Placements and study exchange opportunities are dependent on passing each stage at the first opportunity and being of good standing.

Faculty of Science and Engineering

The Faculty of Science and Engineering is one of the largest research-led science and technology educators in the UK, offering high-quality undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across four specialist schools.

Our students benefit from learning in a research-active environment and are sought-after by employers for their analytical and problem-solving skills. They have exciting, diverse careers ahead: they go on to build railway networks, diagnose patients and discover new drug treatments, harness renewable energies and pioneer smart technology.

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Taught by experts

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.

Meet our expert staff


UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1542 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU and Channel Island students

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2750 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional costs

Specialist Costs


This programme is delivered in association with the Field Studies Council (FSC) and utilises facilities across the UK. Core modules are delivered at Preston Montford (near Shrewsbury) and have two-night residential/non-residential options of attendance available at an additional cost. The optional field units are available from a wide portfolio of short courses delivered across FSC facilities in the UK. These field unit weekends are also offered as either 2/3 night residential/ non-residential options of attendance depending upon the choice of field unit taken.

Students will be expected to print out assessments. 

Example unit costs (subject to change) to the FSC for accommodation on weekends is £130 per weekend for core units on a shared room basis (£20 supplement fee per night for sole occupancy). Total of 2 weekends per 15 credit unit (2 studied per year). Suggested annual cost: £520. £180 for 3-day field units or £130 for 2-day field units on a shared room basis. (£20 supplement fee per night for sole occupancy)

'Using a Flora' is an exception as it is a 4-day course and has an associated cost of £230. Based on 3 x £180 units studied per year - suggested annual cost £540. 

In total for study over one year, this would be £1060 for 60 credits based on a shared room and not taking any half-credit courses, or the 'Using of Flora' 4-day course. 

Postgraduate Loan Scheme

Loans of up to £10,906 for many Postgraduate Courses

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Alumni Loyalty Discount

Rewarding our graduates

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How to apply

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

Apply online now

If you are unable to apply online, you can apply for postgraduate taught courses by completing the postgraduate application form. There are exceptions for some professional courses – the course information on our on-line prospectus will give you more information in these cases.

Please note: to apply for this course, you only need to provide one reference.

You can review our current Terms and Conditions before you make your application. If you are successful with your application, we will send you up to date information alongside your offer letter.


Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

Important Notice
This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.

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