Learn about beetles in this beginner online course. Over 4000 different species of beetles occur in Britain. Their huge diversity in form, behaviour and ecology make them a fascinating group to study and observe but also can make them seem daunting to beginners. 

Find out about the lifestyle and varied forms of one of the UK’s most numerous and varied groups of invertebrates. The course will arm beginners with the underpinning knowledge of beetle biology, ecology, behaviour and basic collection methods to embark on their beetle journey. 

What will be covered during this course?

  • Beetle Biology
  • Beetle Ecology
  • Beetle Behaviour
  • Finding Beetles

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This course aims to introduce the morphology, ecology and behaviour of some of the UK’s beetle fauna.

Beetle Biology: The first week begins with an introduction to what makes a beetle and look at the internal and external features of beetles as a group, their diversity and learn about their generalised life cycles. At the end of the week there is a scheduled live webinar.

Beetle Ecology: Here learners will explore the basic ecological functions of beetles and their interactions with their natural environments. This week also introduces the practical assignment, where learners are asked to explore their local environments and begin to think about the groups of beetles that may be found there. At the end of the week there is a scheduled live webinar.

Beetle behaviour: In the third week learners are exposed to some notable behaviours displayed by beetles and their function. We look at feeding-related behaviours of both adults and larvae, survival strategies and courtship rituals.

Finding beetles: In the final week learners will start to bring together the knowledge gained in the last three weeks to help them locate and observe beetles. Learners will look at notable types of habitat  and methods used to locate and handle beetle specimens without harming them. Learners will also be exposed to how to make and record observations to start to build the foundations for the formation of basic identification skills. At the end of the week there is a scheduled live webinar.

This is a 4-week online course for adults, covering 3 topics, for which you will complete a variety of self-led online resources and activities. Each topic is then concluded with an interactive Zoom workshop to complement the online content. Time commitment is approximately 3-5 hours per week and an E-certificate is provided upon completion.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Name the main parts  and life stages of a beetle.
  • Be able to give examples of ecological niches and functions of beetles and able to recognise adaptations for these.
  • Recognise the economic significance of beetles – positive and negative.
  • Recognise potentially good beetle habitat.
  • Understand basic collection methods used to find beetles, including knowing how to collect, handle and examine beetles without harming them.

Who Should Attend? – Nature enthusiasts, Students, Rangers, Early career ecologists.

Knowledge Level – Introductory. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Prior Knowledge – No existing knowledge or experience is needed for this course. Just a willingness to contribute and learn.

Please note that this course is not a species identification course and will only go as far as categorising British beetles by their behaviours and ecology.

Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

This course is aimed at adults only and course attendees must be at least 18 years old in order to attend.

Please note – bookings will close 2 working days before the course start date to allow for all participants to be enrolled to the online platform – bookings will not be taken after this time.*
*Bookings will close sooner if course capacity is reached

Understand how our online courses are delivered

Live Webinar Information

There are 3 webinars for this course, taking at the end of weeks 1, 2 and 4 with the course tutor through Zoom.
Please see the date listing below for the day and time.

Please note – webinars will be recorded and uploaded to the virtual learning platform for learners unable to attend.

About the Tutor

Chris Foster

Chris got distracted by beetles while conducting bird surveys for his MSc project and later as a surveyor for the RSPB. Beetles subsequently became the focus of his PhD, which looked at the effects of landscape heterogeneity on the distribution of flower-visiting beetles, ground beetles and dung beetles.
Chris is currently a lecturer in Animal Ecology at the University of Reading, outside of work he runs the national Ground Beetle Recording Scheme.

Example Timetable

Week 1: Beetle Biology 
Self-study material available from the start date.
Week 1 Live Webinar at the end of week 1

Week 2: Beetle Ecology 
Self-study material available after week 1 webinar
Week 2 Live Webinar: at the end of week 2

Week 3: Beetle Behaviour
Self-study material available after week 2 webinar
Week 3 Marked Assignment

Week 4: Locate and Observe Beetles
Self-study material available after week 3 webinar
Week 4 Live webinar at the end of week 4

The final deadline to complete any outstanding assignments and self-study components 2 weeks after the final webinar

Time commitment: This course will require approximately 3-5 hours of your time each week. This includes covering course materials on our Moodle learning platform and the Zoom session.

What's Included

The course has been carefully created to help you continue to build and develop your knowledge as the course progresses. With content crafted to the online Moodle Platform and bespoke to the Field Studies Council.

The course includes:

  • 45-minute interactive weekly Zoom workshops to connect with the tutor and other participants
  • Expert tuition for which the Field Studies Council is renowned
  • Activities to work on independently in advance of each Zoom workshop
  • Tailored course completion certificate

Once registered, you will follow well-illustrated, user-friendly ’books’ to pick up knowledge. Quizzes and skill checks will give you instant feedback on your learning. Forums give students the chance to interact with each other as well as a place to share work.


  • ☆☆☆☆☆

    ''This was a great course and a good introduction to beetle anatomy, life cycle and ecology. Just the right amount of course work and assignments, and enthusiastic, knowledgeable tutors as you would expect from FSC''
    Persephone, Conservation Land Management Professional

  • ☆☆☆☆☆

    ''I Enjoyed Learning about beetles in college and wanted to further my education. I would recommend this course for anyone wanting to further their knowledge on beetles''
    5 Stars, Jack

  • ☆☆☆☆☆

    ''The online education 'platform' works well and the combination of weekly written material supplemented by illustrations and video clips from Youtube is highly effective. Despite this being 'remote learning', the weekly live webinars, with the opportunity to ask questions, and the availability of direct contact with the tutor through email and online forum, manage to produce a real sense of community. 
    I don't think anybody who does this course could fail to be inspired. It's amazing! I can't
    recommend it highly enough'' 
    5 Stars, Andy Charlton, wildlife Enthusiast

Bursaries and Subsidies

Student Discount

This course is eligible for a student discount. If you are a current student, please use discount code BioStudent20 at checkout for 20% off all Biodiversity courses.

Before You Attend

Accessing Your Course

  • Once you sign up you’ll receive an email at least 24 hours in advance of the course opening with details of how to access our easy-to-use platform, Moodle.
  • Moodle can be accessed through a browser or an app.
  • Webinars are via Zoom so you won’t need any new software to attend

Recommended Devices

It is recommended that you access your course through a PC or laptop. Please be aware that there will be reduced functionality if you decide to access the course through a tablet or smartphone. The Field Studies Council is unable to email content directly to you.

Opportunities to attend this course

This course is not currently available to book. Dates will follow soon.

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Progress Your Learning

This is a training course from the Field Studies Council, delivered by expert tutors with an approachable learning style. After attending this course, you may like to progress your learning with further relevant courses or branch out into other areas of natural history. The Field Studies Council offers both online and in-person courses, so you can choose the learning style that suits you best.

The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our online portal gives you time to study at your own pace and fit the lessons around your own schedule.

If you have any questions about our online courses please check our Frequently Asked Questions
Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

Group Bookings Made Easy

If you have a group of 10 or more individuals wanting to complete one of our courses, our team are available to discuss your options – from discounts to private team courses. Find out more!

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be at your fingertips. In choosing a Field Studies Council course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.