This beginner-early intermediate lichens course will consist of a blend of field and classroom sessions to provide you with a general introduction to lichens as a group, focusing on morphology, biology, ecology and chemistry, alongside identification and recording.

Lichens are an important part of many ecosystems and can be found all around us. These are amazing small plant-like structures found on a range of surfaces ranging from rocks and boulders to buildings and the sides of trees.

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The workshop will include a series of field visits to local sites around the Field Centre, situated at Slapton Ley within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With the rich lichen diversity across Devon, the Centre is perfectly situated for an introductory course to lichens, especially with the spectacular variety that can be found in the south west of England. The knowledge and skillset acquired over the duration of this course will equip you with the confidence to delve further into lichens as a group, where follow-up support is offered by the course tutor.

What will be covered during this course?

The course will be delivered through a combination of presentations, laboratory identification sessions and practical field work. Field work will involve visiting a range of habitats where the specimens can be identified within an ecological context.

  • Defining the lichens – how their life cycle and ecology differs from other groups, with a brief introduction to their structure and function.
  • Identification, description, ecology and distribution of a range of lichens.
    Particular emphasis on ecologically important groups, including those which may be bioindicators.
  • How to use a lens in the field to look for characteristic structures.
    Climatological, geological and other factors which affect lichen distribution.

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

  •  Identify, and justify the identification of a selection of common lichen species using a range of identification resources.
  • Evaluate the role that lichens have as ecological indicators and their use in indicating air and habitat quality.

Who Should Attend? – Natural history enthusiasts, students, rangers, ecologists, environmental professionals.

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

Prior Knowledge – This beginner – early intermediate level course is open to anyone with zero or some knowledge of the subject. No prior knowledge is expected, but any knowledge will prove beneficial.

Example Timetable

*Please note this is a provisional timetable. Plans may change dependent on weather, the Field Centre and group preference.


Morning: classroom
Introduction to lichens – biology, chemistry, ecology & bioindication. Followed by lichen identification & recording, which includes:

  • Demonstrations of equipment – hand lens, microscope & ID Guides.
  • Concept of herbaria and reference collections.
  • Thallus types/structure – crustose, foliose, fruticose & leprose etc.
  • Key features – reproduction, attachment & colour etc.
  • Introduction to chemical testing and safe application.

Afternoon – field visit


Morning: classroom
Personal time to consolidate learning and work through specimens, with tutor available to help & answer questions.

Afternoon – field visit

*Due to the limited amount of time available, this course will not cover how to complete a cross-section or use a compound microscope. Only a dissecting scope will be used as part of this workshop.

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


  • ★★★★★

    April really is a people person and was able to establish a relaxed atmosphere during the first session

  • ★★★★★

    It was all fascinating, the course tutor was very good, the other course participants were very interesting

  • ★★★★

    The balance of field and classroom work was good and I felt I came away with sufficient tools and understanding to continue to expand my knowledge of the group. The tutor introduced the topics in a logical and steady way and followed these up with field experiences to reinforce klnowledge and understanding. A well thought through course.

  • ★★★★

    The opportunity to come and immerse myself in a subject, with the mixture of classroom sessions and field work and the evenings in the lab, is priceless.

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

What to Bring?

  • Sturdy walking boots (ideally) or wellies.
  • Good set of waterproofs (jacket & trousers) and an umbrella.
  • Warm clothing (i.e. fleece, hat & gloves).
  • Sun cream & clothing for cooler weather.
  • Pens, notebooks and waterproof covers/plastics bags for the field.
  • Phones and cameras will also prove useful for pictures.
  • A day rucksack inc. lunch box, water bottle & thermos flask.
  • A x10 magnification hand lens. Those costing between £3.00 - £5.00 are sufficient.
  • Please bring your own refreshments & pack lunch.

Recommended Equipment & Literature

  • Field Studies Council fold-out guide – Lichens on Twigs (£3.75), Lichens of heaths & moors (£3.75), Churchyard Lichens (£3.75), Rocky Shore Lichens (£.3.75) and Urban Lichens 1 & 2 (£3.75 each).
  • Frank Dobson – A Field Key to Lichens on Trees (£16.50), Coastal & Seashore (£16.50) and Churchyards (£16.50).
  • Frank Dobson - Lichens: An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species (£34.99).

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 courses please check our Frequently Asked Questions or email [email protected].

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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.