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This Reptiles and Amphibians course covers identification, ecology and diversity of all (native and introduced) reptile and amphibian species, as well as survey techniques.

The course starts Friday evening with an introductory talk and survey on campus. We will also visit local amphibian and reptile sites over the weekend to practice identification and surveying, and to discuss habitat requirements. The programme has to be weather dependent and reptile sightings cannot be guaranteed. We will be visiting ponds at night to count amphibians, so a good torch is essential. Key features for discrimination are identified, using a range of core texts and methods. The unit will give an understanding of the importance of these species for conservation, ecology and recording.

Your course takes place on a 12-hectare estate, surrounded by a rich range of habitats, including the River Severn and semi-ancient woodland, set in the heart of Shropshire with views disappearing into Wales.

PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition only. If you would like to book accommodation and meals, including packed lunches, at FSC Preston Montford please email [email protected] . Please book early to ensure availability of accommodation.

Who Should Attend?

Natural history enthusiasts, students, rangers, ecologists, environmental professionals. This intermediate level course is open to anyone with some knowledge of the subject.

Knowledge Level – Intermediate. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Framework and Course Level Descriptors

What will be covered during this course?

  • The course will be delivered through a combination of seminars, laboratory identification sessions and practical field work.
  • Identification and diagnostic features of UK reptiles and amphibians
  • The life cycles of reptiles and amphibians and key features at each life cycle stage
  • What makes a good site for reptiles and amphibians, and how management can improve populations or mitigate against declines
  • Legislation covering reptiles and amphibians, and their surveys
  • What plant species and communities are beneficial for these species
  • How understanding the behaviour and ecology of these species can help in field location and identification

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

  • Identify British reptiles and amphibians, with reference to the ecology of a selection of species.
  • Critically evaluate appropriate survey techniques for reptiles and amphibians, write a report on a survey for reptiles and amphibians, and assess a site for conservation potential.


This is one of a series of courses (Units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University 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]

  • 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.

An Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust course.


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 with 2 parts:

Part 1: Complete an in-class assessment relating to the identification of British reptile and amphibian species. Justify your answers by choosing the most important diagnostic features. (Equivalent to 500 words)

Part 2: Carry out a survey for reptiles and/or amphibians at a site of your choice. Present your survey results in the format of a formal survey report which demonstrates your understanding of survey techniques and ecology. You should consider how the site could be improved or managed for the species you found, or for other reptiles and amphibians. (1500 words)

Tutor: Dr John Wilkinson

John is a conservation ecologist who has been working with amphibians and reptiles for over 25 years. He manages Regional, Science and Training Programmes for the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC) and has a particular fascination for toads!

Covid Measures

In order to keep our customers and staff safe we ask that anyone attending our centres:

  • Wears a face covering when in shared indoor space (unless exempt).
  • Maintains social distancing.
  • Cleans their hands regularly.
  • Takes a Covid-19 lateral flow test before they arrive.

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

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

If you have booked accommodation and meals with the centre your bedroom will be ready from 3.00 pm onwards on the day of arrival and we ask that you vacate by 9.30 am on the morning of departure.

If numbers are sufficient a station pick up will be arranged at 5.30 pm from Shrewsbury Station.

The evening meal is at 6.30 pm (not included in the course fee - please book separately).

The course starts after dinner with a classroom session 7.30 pm - 9.00 pm

The course ends at 4.00 pm on the final day.

Time will be made available for eating packed lunches during the day (not included in the course fee - please book separately).

Course overview and evening field visit to Preston Montford ponds.

Classroom ID sessions and field visits to amphibian and reptile sites in north Shropshire.

Advanced ID and chances to practice your field skills.

Course roundup, discussion and ID test.

Accrediting Agency

Manchester Metropolitan University

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks

What’s included?

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the subject
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which the FSC is renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression

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

PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition and refreshments only. If you would like to book accommodation and meals, including packed lunches, at FSC Preston Montford please email [email protected] Please book early to ensure availability of accommodation.

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

  • Walking boots or wellies
  • Waterproofs (also available from the Centre)
  • A good torch and batteries
  • Camera and binoculars
  • Any field guide book
  • Notebook and pencils
  • Sandwich box and vacuum flask/drinks container
  • USB memory stick (to take away additional handouts)

Recommended Reading

Gent, A. and Gibson, S. (1998) Herpetofauna Worker’s Manual. JNCC: Peterborough, UK