This advanced course will cover great crested newt identification and ecology, survey techniques, the Habitat Suitability Index (HSI), and will include opportunities to practice netting, bottle trapping, torch and egg searching.

This course provides a balance of classroom and field-based sessions for those interested in acquiring a great crested newt licence.

This course will cover:

  • Species identification
  • An introduction to legislation
  • The value of great crested newt records
  • Great crested newt ecology
  • Natural England survey methods, including opportunities to practice netting, bottle trapping, torch and egg searching
  • Other survey methods, including eDNA and Dewsbury trapping
  • Survey planning
  • Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) for great crested newts

Read More

Over recent years, the subject of great crested newt licensing has been rapidly evolving and there is now a range of approaches that may be applicable which will be explored and discussed in this advanced course, including the eDNA sampling procedure. There will be plenty of opportunities to explore and survey for great crested newts, allowing you to put your new knowledge into practice, with the support and guidance of our expert tutor.

Please note – Natural England will accept an attendance certificate from this course as supporting material towards a great crested newt survey licence. Click this link for more information. To access your certificate, you will need to log in to our Moodle platform and complete a short quiz within 14 days of attending your course. You will then need to download the certificate from the platform yourself.

This level 4 course is next in the series of our Amphibian framework and is a perfect progression from our level 2 and 3 Amphibian courses.

Bookings will close if course capacity is reached.

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

  • Explain current legislation for great crested newts
  • Confidently identify and describe the ecology of a range of newt species with a particular focus on great crested newts
  • Describe and carry out a range of survey techniques for sampling for great crested newts
  • Share this knowledge with friends, family, and fellow volunteers

Who Should Attend?

The course is perfect for ecologists, rangers or land managers who wish to undertake great crested newt surveys on a professional basis, as well as nature enthusiasts, students, consultants, and volunteer citizen scientists/surveyors.

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

Prior Knowledge
Knowledge of British amphibian identification and ecology is beneficial for this course.

About our partner, ARC

The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC) was established in June 2009. ARC was created around the core of the Herpetological Conservation Trust (HCT), in response to the wider needs of herpetofauna conservation, providing the UK focus for all aspects of reptile and amphibian conservation. ARC continues to focus on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, creating an extensive network of nature reserves, coordinating monitoring programmes and volunteer networks and developing an effective role in advocacy both within the UK and Europe.

About the Tutor

David Orchard

David Orchard has completed a PhD at the University of Salford on great crested newts and their use of farmland. He has carried out numerous great crested newt surveys on a consultancy basis and has been involved with great crested newt survey training since 2006. He is also the county recorder for amphibians and reptiles in Lancashire.

Chris Monk

Chris Monk has been surveying great crested newts since 1985 for many conservation purposes. He has run training courses for organisations such as the Wildlife Trust, Peak District National Park Authority and the Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group. He is the County Recorder for amphibians & reptiles in Derbyshire.


Example Timetable

Example Timetable

This timetable is subject to change but should give a clear outline of what to expect.

There are two different timetables below depending on the location of your course. Please refer to the correct location and see 'Opportunities to attend this course' below for course dates and timings.

Rixton Claypits

  • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 11:00am
  • The course will end at 8:30pm

11:00am Introductions
11:15am Classroom session covering: Species identification and ecology; Great crested newt legislation
Site walk
1:00pm Lunch – not provided
1:30pm Classroom session on survey planning
2:00pm Field session - Natural England survey methods
4:15pm Break - drinks provided
4:30pm Classroom session – Habitat Suitability Index for great crested newts
5:30pm Break - meal not provided
6:30pm Field session - other survey techniques and torch searching session
8:00pm Classroom plenary and final questions
8:30pm End of course

To receive your certificate, you will need to log in to our Moodle platform and complete a short quiz within 14 days of attending your course. You will be sent details of how to access the platform via email.

Please note accommodation, food and an evening meal are not included.

Haddon Hall Medieval Park

  • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 12:00pm
  • The course will end at 10:00pm

12:00pm Introductions
12:15pm Classroom session covering: Species identification and ecology
1:45pm Lunch break - food not provided. Haddon Hall’s restaurant is open serving lighter bites, jacket potatoes & open sandwiches.
2:30pm Classroom Session: Habitat and traditional survey methods
3:30pm Garden Visit: assessing the pond in the formal gardens
4:00pm Refreshments / comfort break - refreshments not provided
4:20pm Classroom session covering: Great Crested Newt Habitat Suitability Index (HSI), environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling, and biosecurity
5:30pm Classroom session: Great Crested Newt legislation and licences, district level licensing
6:15pm Finish classroom sessions, pack up & leave the Hall
6:30pm Fieldwork practical session in the Haddon Medieval Park
8:00pm Travel to the Grouse & Claret at Rowsley for refreshment break – food not provided but available to buy at the bar. Time for discussion / questions
9:00pm Set off to travel to Conksbury for practical torchlight survey at restored dewponds on the Haddon Estate
10:00pm End of course

To receive your certificate, you will need to log in to our Moodle platform and complete a short quiz within 14 days of attending your course. You will be sent details of how to access the platform via email.
Please note accommodation, food and an evening meal are not included.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition

The course has been carefully created by expert tutors and educators to help you continue to build and develop 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

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:

  • Wellies, waterproofs, clipboard, paper, pen and a high-powered torch (if you have one)
  • An empty 2 litre lemonade/coke bottle
  • Clipboard
  • Tea and coffee will be provided during the day but please bring a packed lunch
  • Clipboard (Haddon Hall location only)
  • At the Rixton Claypits location, there will be an opportunity for an evening meal at a reasonably priced local pub, the cost of which is not included in the course fee
  • You may wish to purchase the Field Studies Council Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians to enhance your experience

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

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

Sign up to our Email Newsletter

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].

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. Click here to 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.