This advanced course will cover great crested newt identification and ecology, survey techniques, the Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) and will include opportunities to practice netting, bottle trapping, torch and egg searching.

This course provides a balance of classroom and field-based sessions for those interested in acquiring a great crested newt licence.

Over recent years the subject of great crested newt licensing has been rapidly evolving and there is now a range of approaches that may be applicable which will be explored and discussed in this advanced course, including the eDNA sampling procedure. There will be plenty of opportunities to explore and survey for great crested newts allowing you to put your new knowledge into practice, with the support and guidance of our expert tutor.

Please note – Natural England will accept an attendance certificate from this course in lieu of one reference for a great crested newt survey licence (but you will still need an additional reference). Click this link for more information. To access your certificate, you will need to log in to our Moodle platform and complete a short quiz within 7 days of attending your course. You will then need to download the certificate from the platform yourself.

This level 4 course is next in the series of our Amphibian framework and is a perfect progression from our level 2 and 3 Amphibian courses.

Your course takes place at Rixton Claypits. Once a clay extraction site, it is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). It is of national importance for the great crested newt, and it supports one of the largest populations in the country.


What will be covered during this course?

    • Species identification
    • An introduction to legislation
    • The value of great crested newt records
    • Great crested newt ecology
    • Natural England survey methods, including opportunities to practice netting, bottle trapping, torch and egg searching
    • Other survey methods, including eDNA and Dewsbury trapping
    • Survey planning
    • Habitat Suitability Index for great crested newts

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

    • Explain current legislation for great crested newts
    • Confidently identify and describe the ecology of a range of newt species with a particular focus on great crested newts
    • Describe and carry out a range of survey techniques for sampling for great crested newts
    • Share this knowledge with friends, family, and fellow volunteers

Who Should Attend? – Nature enthusiasts, students, rangers, early career ecologists and conservationists.

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

Prior Knowledge – No existing knowledge, or experience is needed for this course. Just an enthusiasm for wildlife and a willingness to explore and learn.


PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition only. There are no accommodation, refreshment, or evening meal facilities available with this course.

Bookings will close if course capacity is reached.

Please email [email protected] if you have any 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/bespoke team courses. Click here to find out more!

If we are unable 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.

About our partner, ARC

The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC) was established in June 2009. ARC was created around the core of the Herpetological Conservation Trust (HCT), in response to the wider needs of herpetofauna conservation, providing the UK focus for all aspects of reptile and amphibian conservation. ARC continues to focus on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, creating an extensive network of nature reserves, coordinating monitoring programmes and volunteer networks and developing an effective role in advocacy both within the UK and Europe.

Tutor: David Orchard

David Orchard has completed a PhD at the University of Salford on great crested newts and their use of farmland. He has carried out numerous great crested newt surveys on a consultancy basis and has been involved with great crested newt survey training since 2006. He is also the county recorder for amphibians and reptiles in Lancashire.

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 11:00am
  • The course will end at 8:30pm

11:00am Introductions
11:15am Classroom session covering: Species identification and ecology; Great crested newt legislation
Site walk
1:00pm Lunch – not provided
1:30pm Classroom session on survey planning
2:00pm Field session - Natural England survey methods
4:15pm Break - drinks provided
4:30pm Classroom session – Habitat Suitability Index for great crested newts
5:30pm Break - meal not provided
6:30pm Field session - other survey techniques and torch searching session
8:00pm Classroom plenary and final questions
8:30pm End of course

To receive your certificate, you will need to log in to our Moodle platform and complete a short quiz within 7 days of attending your course. You will be sent details on how to access the platform via email.

Please note accommodation, food and an evening meal are not included.

What's Included

The course has been carefully created by expert tutors and educators to help you continue to build and develop 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 FSC is renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression
  • Tailored certificate of completion

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.

Bursaries and Subsidies

Student Discount

This course is eligible for a student discount. If you are a current student, please use discount code BioStudent20 at checkout for 20% off all Biodiversity courses.

Before You Attend

What to Bring:

  • Wellies, waterproofs, clipboard, paper, pen and a high-powered torch (if you have one)
  • An empty 2 litre lemonade/coke bottle
  • Tea and coffee will be provided during the day but please bring a packed lunch
  • There will be an opportunity for an evening meal at a reasonably priced local pub, the cost of which is not included in the course fee

You may wish to purchase the FSC Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians 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.

Arriving for your course

By car from Warrington - follow Manchester Road (A57) out of Woolston, across both M6 roundabouts for approximately one mile. Continue past the end of Moat Lane and about 400 yards on the left is the visitor centre. 120 yards further along on the left is the car park.  If you pass Chapel Lane (on the left) you’ve gone too far. Please note that the visitors centre is set back 30m from the road and is not well signposted, so it is easily missed. From Cadishead- follow Liverpool Road (A57) through the traffic lights at Warburton Bridge Road and continue for another 420 metres. The car park is before the visitor’s centre on the right between Chapel Lane and Moat Lane.

Please park in the main car park, not in front of the visitors centre.

By bus – The 100 bus from Warrington stops on Manchester Road, near Moat Lane.

For more information about the Rixton Claypits Local Nature Reserve please visit:

Sorry this course booking is closed