In this beginner’s online course, you will learn more about the biology and ecology of UK seal species that you may see around our coastline. By the end, you will appreciate their amazing lives, and start to identify these animals. Explore one of our favourite marine mammals in this 4-week online course, developed and delivered by leading seal conservation experts, SRT.

Seals are incredibly charismatic species and one of our most easily sighted iconic UK marine mammals. They live a complicated life, having to survive the challenging environment of the wild northern hemisphere oceans, plus a huge variety of terrestrial coastal environments.

This beginner course is a starting guide to the skills required to begin identifying and observing our native seals in the field. You will learn valuable observational field identification tips, life history characteristics and general ecology of the different seal species found around the British coastline plus some of our more obscure visitors. Participants will also discover the conservation efforts currently in place for UK seals and their importance as ambassadorial species engaging us all with our precious marine habitat.

This level 2 course is next in the series of our Marine Mammal framework and is a perfect progression from our level 1 Discovering Marine Mammals online course.

This is a 4-week online course covering 4 topics, for which you will complete a variety of self-led online resources and activities. Each topic is then concluded with an interactive Zoom workshop to complement the online content. Time commitment is approximately 2-3 hours a week and an E-certificate is provided upon completion.

Who Should Attend?

Nature enthusiasts, Students, Rangers, Early career ecologists, Marine explorers

Knowledge Level

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

Prior Knowledge

A basic understanding of marine mammals is required for this course. You may wish to complete Discovering Marine Mammals before attending this course.

Recommended Devices

It is recommended that you access your course through a PC or laptop. Please be aware that there will be reduced functionality if you decide to access the course through a tablet or smartphone. The Field Studies Council is unable to email content directly to you.

What is covered in this course?

    • Biology of UK Seals
    • Ecology of UK Seals
    • UK Seal Identification
    • Conservation of UK Seals

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

    • Identify the two native British seal species (and some non-native)
    • Describe seal biology, ecology, and adaptations to the marine environment
    • Outline the different life-history strategies of seal species
    • Discuss some of the main threats to seals, and the conservation measures implemented to protect them
    • Share this knowledge with friends, family and fellow volunteers.

This is a training course from the Field Studies Council, including online course materials, expert tuition and a flexible learning style. After attending this course, you may like to progress your learning with further relevant courses or branch out into other areas of the animal kingdom. The Field Studies Council offers both online and in person courses, so you can choose the learning style that suits you best.

Please note that bookings will close at 9 am on Wednesday 25th May to allow for all participants to be enrolled to the online platform – bookings will not be taken after this time. *

* Bookings will close sooner if course capacity is reached

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.

    • See the ‘Example Timetable’ and ‘What’s Included’ sections below for more information about this course.
    • Each individual needs to place their own order to ensure we can sign you up to the learning platform and give you access to resources.
    • If you have any questions about our online courses please check our Frequently Asked Questions first
    • If your question is still not answered, email [email protected]

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!

About our Partner, Seal Research Trust

Founded by Sue Sayer, in Cornwall 2000, SRT is a multi-award-winning, evidence-based conservation charity coordinating a huge regional network of citizen scientists. Their shared focus is passionately protecting our precious marine species and their environment for future generations to enjoy. Sue’s philosophy is all about ‘sharing our seas successfully’.

Tutor: Sue Sayer

Sue is an internationally renowned researcher and author. For over 20 years, she has spent thousands of hours observing seals in the wild from land and at sea in Cornwall. To Sue, there is no such thing as an average seal. Each one looks different, has an individual personality, range of habits and migration route around the Celtic Sea! In 2000, Sue founded the Seal Research Trust in Cornwall.

Live Webinar Information

The webinars will take place on the following dates at 5:00 pm (BST):

    • Friday 17th June 2022 at 5pm – 5:45pm
    • Friday 3rd June 2022 at 5pm – 5:45pm
    • Friday 10th June 2022 at 5pm – 5:45pm
    • Friday 24th June 2022 at 5pm – 5:45pm

Please note - webinars will be recorded and uploaded to the virtual learning platform for learners unable to attend.

Example Timetable


Week 1: Biology of UK Seals
Self-study material available: 27/05/2022
Week 1 live webinar: 03/06/2022 at 5:00pm

Week 2: Ecology of UK Seals
Self-study material available: 03/06/2022
Week 2 live webinar: 10/06/2022 at 5:00pm

Week 3: UK Seal Identification
Self-study material available: 10/06/2022
Week 3 live webinar: 17/06/2022 at 5:00pm

Week 4: Conservation of UK Seals
Self-study material available: 17/06/2022
Week 4 live webinar: 24/06/2022 at 5:00pm

The final deadline to complete any outstanding assignments and self-study components is 08/07/2022

Time commitment: This course will require approximately 2-3 hours of your time each week. This includes covering course materials on our Moodle learning platform and the Zoom session.

Accrediting Agency

Seal Research Trust (SRT)

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition

The course has been carefully created to help you continue to build and develop your knowledge as the course progresses. With content crafted to the online Moodle Platform and bespoke to the Field Studies Council.

The course includes:

    • 45-minute interactive weekly Zoom workshops to connect with the tutor and other participants
    • Expert tuition for which the Field Studies Council is renowned
    • Activities to work on independently in advance of each Zoom workshop
    • Tailored course completion certificate

Once registered, you will follow well-illustrated, user-friendly ’books’ to pick up knowledge. Quizzes and skill checks will give you instant feedback on your learning. Forums give students the chance to interact with each other as well as a place to share work.

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.

Before You Attend

A basic understanding of marine mammals is required for this course. You may wish to complete Discovering Marine Mammals before attending this course.

Once you sign up you’ll receive an email at least 48 hours in advance of the course opening with details of how to access our easy-to-use platform, Moodle.

Webinars are via Zoom so you won’t need any new software to attend

Please note that bookings will close at 9am on Wednesday 25th May to allow for all participants to be enrolled to the online platform - bookings will not be taken after this time.