FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

Grass Identification

  • NON-RESIDENT: £235

This course is now historical and therefore no bookings can be taken. Explore our current programme of courses here

The grass family is the fifth largest (in terms of diversity) and arguably the most economically important of the flowering plant families. However, with its small flowering parts it is also considered one of the more difficult to identify. With an emphasis on floral characteristics, this course is suitable for those who are new to grass identification as we will begin with an introduction to their structure and associated terminology. However, it is expected that you will have some experience of identifying plants and using botanical keys.

Visits to a variety of local habitats will give you experience of using keys and identifying a range of common and less well-known grass species in the field. The course will include:

  • An introduction to the structure of grasses including flowering parts and vegetative characters useful in their identification
  • The use of keys and familiarisation with the terminology used
  • Excursions to a variety of habitats in the Malham area with their different associated grasses

Time will be divided between the field and the classroom with an emphasis on grass identification in the field during the day. Suggested programme:

Friday: Introduction to course: what makes a grass a grass...
Saturday: Further introduction to grass structure and use of keys. Visit to limestone pavement and grassland.
Sunday: Visit to woodland.
Monday: Visit to fen and mire.

Identification test (for certificate students) Evenings will mainly be spent in the classroom where we will practice using keys and where microscopes will be available for more thorough examination of flowering parts and identification of more difficult species collected during the day.

Sarah Watson-Jones is trained in field biology and habitat management and has a PhD in Biosciences from the University of Birmingham (plant population genetics). She has several years' experience working in the environmental sector and as a casual tutor for both the FSC and Aberystwyth University. She currently works at Aberystwyth University as an Agri-environment Lecturer and coordinates a number of postgraduate distance learning modules (www.aber.ac.uk/ibers-dl).


This is one of a series of courses run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University contributing to the MSc Biological Recording and the University Certificate in Biological Recording and Species Identification. The University Certificate is being discontinued so is no longer open for new registration. Existing certificate students will be able to gain credits in the 2018/19 academic year. To gain university credits you must be registered for the Masters programme in advance of this course. For further details please contact:

The Division of Biology and Conservation Ecology Manchester Metropolitan University. E-mail: [email protected]

There is assessment of the course through, for example, identification tests, producing survey reports or field journals, working through keys and other various pieces of work.

The course is also suitable for non-credit students and for those enrolling on the new certificate course with FSC. For further details on this course please contact FSC Head Office at [email protected]

We are currently accepting non-resident bookings only for this course. There is a wealth of alternative accommodation provided locally; please click here for more details. If accommodation space becomes available for this course, we will inform all non-resident bookers immediately and update the course page.

Non-resident course attendees are provided with all meals and refreshments throughout the course with the exception of breakfast. Your course day may commence from 9am and evening sessions may continue until approximately 9pm.


Further Information

Course leaflet
About FSC Malham Tarn
Getting to FSC Malham Tarn

This course is now historical and therefore no bookings can be taken.

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