Rocky shorelines are home to a remarkable diversity of organisms. This immersive beginner course will be a chance for you to explore life on the rocks and in the pools, encountering many of the species that are characteristic of the UK coastline.

Learning to name the species you find is an important step in understanding the environment around you. In this beginner level course you will immerse yourself in the rocky shoreline, looking at the ecology of this diverse ecosystem. You will learn how to identify the organisms that live there and understand their distribution on the shore. You will learn how to use identification keys and gain practice in using them. You will also have the opportunity to examine and identify microscopic animals from the shore communities using a microscope.  

This course will be almost entirely based outside, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to explore and put your newfound knowledge into practice! 

This course will include:

  • An introduction to rocky shore ecology including identification of major animal groups of the shore. 
  • An introduction to using identification guides and keys to identify rocky shore organisms. 

Images by Ellen Monaghan

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

  • Describe key species of seaweeds and animals and their distribution on the shore.
  • Understand how distributions reflect the impact of both abiotic and biotic interactions.
  • Explain the differences seen in the seaweed and animal communities of sheltered and exposed shores.
  • Examine and identify microscopic animals from the shore communities.
  • Use key terms required for use of guides and keys, becoming familiar with species descriptions.
  • Understand the principles of a dichotomous key and how they work.
  • Correctly identify a brown seaweed to species-level using FSC key.
  • Correctly identify a gastropod mollusc to species-level using appropriate key.

Who Should Attend? – Anyone interested in the marine environment, nature enthusiasts, students, rangers, early career consultants and ecologists.

Knowledge Level – Beginner. Level descriptors can be found on the following web-page: Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Prior Knowledge – A basic understanding of marine environments and terminology would be beneficial for this course, though no specific experience is needed, just a willingness to explore and learn.

PLEASE NOTE: There is no accommodation, refreshments, or meal facilities included in the course price. If we are unable to reach viable numbers for this course, we will inform you of the course cancellation 4-5 weeks prior to the course run. We would recommend when purchasing accommodation and/or travel you should take out your own insurance.

Bookings will close if course capacity is reached.

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

About the Tutor

Ian Powell

After a few years of research work in coastal marine ecology, Ian Powell worked as an ecology tutor with the Field Studies Council at Slapton Ley (with lots of marine courses) and on overseas courses to South America. He has since taught undergraduate and master’s degrees in ecology and conservation biology at Edge Hill University, which has included running marine field courses at Millport. Ian also carries out regular botanical and butterfly surveys in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

This timetable is governed by local tide times dependent on the location of the course. This timetable is therefore subject to change but should give a clear outline of what to expect.

  • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 08:30am
  • The course will end at 4:00pm

Day 1
08:30am Welcome, H&S, introductions, aims of the course
09:00am Field visit to rocky shore site
10:30am Break – refreshments not provided  
10:45am Continued field time
12:30pm Lunch - not provided
1:30pm Continued field time
3:00pm Break and prepare to return to classroom
3:30pm Classroom session and summary
4.00pm Finish

Day 2
09:00am Visit second rocky shore site at low tide
10:30am Break – refreshments not provided 
10:45am Continued field time
12:30pm Lunch - not provided 
1:30pm Continued field time
3:00pm Return to classroom for microscope session and summary
4:00pm Finish

Please note accommodation, refreshments, and an evening meal are not included in the course price.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition

The course has been carefully created by expert tutors and educators to help you build your knowledge and apply it within the field surrounded by like-minded individuals.

The course includes:

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the species
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which the Field Studies Council is renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression
  • In-course transport

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

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.

Natural History Bursaries

There are a number of natural history bursaries available to help with the cost of your course. To find out if you and your chosen course are eligible, read more here.

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • Notebook and pencil
  • Lunch and refreshments
  • Sensible footwear and clothing for being outdoors in a rocky shore environment
  • Small bag to carry personal items

Recommended Literature

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.

Opportunities to attend this course

  • Sat 05, August 2023 08:30 - Sun 06, August 2023 16:00

    If you would like to book accommodation, lunch and an evening meal at FSC Millport please email [email protected]. Please note - the course will start at 08:30am on Day 1 and 09:00am on Day 2.

    FSC Millport
    Ian Powell

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 courses please check our Frequently Asked Questions or 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.