The Field Identification Skills Certificate is a test that determines your botanical skill level on a scale from 1 (beginner) to 5 (professional) with 6 being awarded in exceptional cases, level 7 is not able to be tested. They are recognised within the ecological and botanical industry as the standard tool for assessing botanical survey skills.

The aims of the FISC are to measure botanical skills in real-life situations. FISC aims is to make people less fearful of being assessed. Evidence shows that there is no-one who can identify all plants correctly, so you do not need to worry that you might not be perfect.

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There are three separate elements to a FISC, testing your identifications of vascular plants (so no bryophytes or algae). There are two lab tests, the first of which is ten fresh specimens that should be identified without using any books or keys. Then there are twenty fresh specimens that may be identified using any books or keys, but no reference collections or on-line resources may be used.

The third test is in the field – after lunch you will spend approximately two hours surveying a small site and recording the vascular plant species. What you have identified is then compared against a known list of plants to work out what skill level you have.

Because there is no failing, you don’t have to be brilliant to take a FISC. The outcome will be an electronic certificate from the BSBI showing your level of skill (see where you are currently on the skills pyramid), with advice about what sort of activity you are competent to undertake and what further studies you need if you wish to progress up the skills ladder.

For courses taking place at Preston Montford, transport to the field sites is included with the cost.

More details on FISCs are available on the BSBI FISC webpage, including the FISC Booklet which answers in detail many of the questions you may have on FISCs.

Accommodation: participants may wish to book accommodation (and meals) additional to the course fee.


What to bring

  • A hand lens
  •  ID guides e.g. Stace: New Flora of the British Isles, and a picture guide such as Collins Wildflower Guide .
  •  Outdoor clothes (allowing for all weathers), waterproofs, sturdy shoes.
  • Weatherwriter/Clipboard, pens.
  • Please bring a watch as no phones are allowed during the FISC
  •  Packed lunch and drink for field test.

We can provide a limited number of hand lenses, clipboards, some floras and other texts etc. if you forget your own.




Accommodation: participants may wish to book accommodation (and meals) additional to the course fee.

Example Timetable

10:00 – 10:30 Arrival and Drinks
10:30 – 10:45 Introduction to the day
10:45 – 12:30 Lab tests
12:30 – 13:00  Lunch
13:15  Depart for field visit
14:00-16:00 Field test
16:15 Return to Centre
17:00 – 17:30 Summary of the day and depart

What's Included

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport

Opportunities to attend this course

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

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