This course is for beginners to learn about lichen biology and the first steps of lichen identification.

Lichens are beautiful, fascinating, and all around us, almost all the time. What are they doing, how do they work, and how can you begin to learn about them?

Lichens are remarkable, often beautiful, and can be found in a vast range of locations. Though often overlooked, lichens are very important for ecosystems and can tell us a great deal about the state of the local environment. This course will introduce you to how to identify lichens – how to look at them, and the fundamentals for beginning ID. Along the way, we will talk about how they work and the stories they can tell us.

The course will have both classroom and field elements, including basic biology and FAQs, and will address the first questions you must learn to answer for yourself when you want to learn to identify lichens.

You will spend your time on the beautiful Isle of Cumbrae on the Firth of Clyde, West Scotland at our Millport centre surrounded by the rich history as a marine research station.

PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition only. There is no accommodation provided with this course. If you would like to book accommodation, lunch and an evening meal at Millport please email [email protected]

*Bookings will close if course capacity is reached

Who Should Attend?

Nature enthusiasts, Students, Rangers, Early career consultants and ecologists.

Knowledge Level

Beginner. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Prior Knowledge

No specific experience is expected, but it would be helpful to have some understanding of what a lichen is and their requirements.

What will be covered during this course?

    • What are lichens and where are they found?
    • Lichen growth forms and types of reproduction
    • How to identify some common lichens

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

    • Explain what a lichen is and their ecology
    • Use basic identification guides with some confidence
    • Identify some of the commoner lichens
    • Share this knowledge with friends, family, and fellow volunteers

The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our fantastic tutor will combine the use of classroom-led learning and outside learning opportunities to give individuals the skills and confidence to progress their learning.

  • See the ‘Example Timetable’ and ‘What’s Included’ sections below for more information about this course.
  • Upon booking you will need to provide individual details of all attendees
  • 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.

    • Discounted rates
    • Privately run courses for your group
    • Bespoke courses developed specifically for your needs

Click here to find out more!

If we are unable to reach viable numbers for this course, we will inform you of the course cancellation 14 days prior to the course run. We would recommend when purchasing accommodation and/or travel you should take out your own insurance.

Tutor: Rebecca Yahr

Rebecca Yahr has been running lichen courses at Kindrogan Field Centre and elsewhere for a number of years. She is lichenologist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, with research interests in the evolution, ecology and distribution of lichens and their symbiotic partnerships. A botanist and lichenologist by training, she has a strong grounding in the fundamentals of fungal biology, habitat management, and conservation biology in addition to field identification. She has taught about lichens and species interactions for the public, graduate, and post-graduate levels, with over 25 published papers and 10 conservation reports..

Book with Confidence

We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

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

  • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 10:00 am
  • The course will end at 5:00 pm.

Day 1

10:00amIntroductions and classroom session covering:

  • What do you know?
  • An icebreaker and introduction to lichens – what are they, and what do they do out there in the world?
10:45amBreak – refreshments not provided 
11:00amMicroscopy and handlens session in the lab with specimens – lichen basics and growth forms
12:30pmLunch – not provided
1:30pmField session to see growth forms and reproductive structures at rocks behind the station
3:00pmBreak – refreshments not provided 
3:15pmMicroscopy and handlens session in the lab with specimens – reproductive structures
4:15pmField session at Farland Point to practice growth forms and reproductive structures
5:00pmEnd of day 2

Please note that food and accommodation are not included in this course and need to be booked separately with the centre.

Day 2

10:00amClassroom session covering:

  • Lichen symbiosis, naming
  • Review from previous day
10:45amBreak – refreshments not provided 
11:00amPractical session with spot tests at microscopes
12:00pm20 Common Species – a treasure hunt on the grounds
1:30pmLunch - not provided
2:30pmField session at Lion Rock covering:

  • Lichen recording and resources
  • Practice seeing characters in the field
  • Find more of the common species
4:30pmReturn to classroom - Next steps and introduction to following on with available resources.
5:00pmEnd of course


What's Included

  • Expert Tuition

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

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

Before You Attend

What to Bring:

  • Notebook and pencil
  • Lunch and refreshments
  • Sensible footwear and clothing for being outdoors
  • Small bag to carry personal items

If you have them:

  • Hand lens
  • Your own reference book(s)

You may wish to purchase the FSC fold-out Guides to Common Urban Lichens 1 (on trees and wood) and Urban Lichens 2 (on stone and soil) 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.