This lichen identification course consists of a blend of field and laboratory sessions, focusing on morphology, biology, ecology and chemistry of lichens.

This course will include a series of field visits to local sites around the Field Studies Council Centre, Rhyd-y-creuau, located within Snowdonia National Park. With the rich lichen diversity across this area, the Centre is perfectly situated for an introductory course to lichens, especially with the spectacular variety that can be found in North Wales. 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. 

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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, and environmental professionals. This beginner to early intermediate level course is open to anyone with zero or some background knowledge of the subject. This course is for those aged 18 and over only.

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

There are two booking options which all include course tuition, meals and refreshments:

  • Non-Resident (Breakfast not included)
  • Resident (Sole Occupancy)

For course bookings including accommodation please note that bathroom facilities may be shared.

MMU Students

MMU students – please email [email protected] to book your course place.


This is one of a series of courses (units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) contributing to the MSc ‘Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring’ and the ‘Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording’. MMU students complete assessed work after the course. For further details about Manchester Metropolitan University degree programmes please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). Email: [email protected]

Please email [email protected] if you have any questions


For Manchester Metropolitan University students, the Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment. In course tests are optional and less formal for participants who are not MMU students.

MMU students will be required to complete a portfolio comprising of two parts:

Part 1: A test, OR annotated notebook with a range of specimens. Points will likely be awarded for correct identification, critical comparison between specimens and comparisons between superficially similar/related species (Equivalent to 1000 words).

Part 2: A literature review style essay on the importance of lichens as biological indicators, including their use to indicate air quality, pollutants etc. You should also discuss the problems of identification, and issues this can cause (1000 words).

Example Timetable

This course runs Friday – Monday.
Please arrive in time for the evening meal at 6.00pm.
The course starts after dinner with a classroom session 7.30pm - 9.00pm.
The course ends at 4.00pm on the final day.
Time will be made available for eating packed lunches during the day.
If you have booked accommodation with the centre your bedroom will be ready from 3.00pm onwards on the day of arrival and we ask that you vacate by 9.30am on the morning of departure.

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

Friday evening: 
Arrive in time for evening meal at 6:00pm
Evening session after dinner including group introductions and outline of the weekend activities.

Presentation providing an introduction to lichens – biology, chemistry, ecology & bio-indication.
Introduction to lichen identification & recording.
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.
Field trip.

Field trip to consolidate morning learning.

Introduction to chemical testing.
Personal time to reflect, consolidate and work through specimens, with a tutor available to help & answer questions.

Morning & Afternoon 
Short time spent in the classroom working through specimens.
Field trip

Dissecting lichens, using compound microscopes, and studying the internal features of lichens.

Morning & afternoon 
Field trip
Head back to the classroom to close the session and answer any questions. We will explore where to go with lichens after the course and how to continue learning, especially how the British Lichen Society can support you.

What's Included

What’s included?

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the subject
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which we are renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression
  • All meals provided

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

Before You Attend

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 make any necessary adjustments.

What to bring

  •  X10 Magnification Lens.
  • You own ID books, hand lens & field notebook will be useful.
  • Warm clothing is essential.
  • Waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers (can be borrowed from the Centre).
  • Outdoor footwear (walking boots and wellies can be borrowed from the Centre).
  • Day rucksack, warm hat and gloves
  • A torch, water bottle, thermos flask and lunch box.

Recommended Reading

Please note these are not essential, but just a suggestion for you.
Lichens: an Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species (7th edition) by Frank Dobson (2018).
Lichens on twigs guide
Urban lichens 2 guide
Urban lichens 1 guide
Churchyard lichens guide
Rocky shore lichens guide
Lichens of heaths and moors guide

Opportunities to attend this course

  • Fri 06, September 2024 18:00 - Mon 09, September 2024 16:00

    MMU students - please email [email protected] to book your course place.

    £366 - £570
    April Windle

    Sorry this course is out of stock

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.