Coastal habitats contain many beautiful and interesting plant species adapted to some extreme environmental conditions. This course will help you develop your ability to identify many of the common species and understand how they are adapted to live in the transitional habitats between land and sea – a beneficial skill to have!

This beginner-intermediate course will provide a unique opportunity to practice identification of the variety of plant species found in both saltmarsh and sand dune systems. Through a combination of classroom-based sessions and field visits, you will be able to put both habitats into their ecological and successional context and discuss how plants are adapted to these two extreme coastal environments.

You will have time to explore the beautiful coastal environment around Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire, to find specimens and learn valuable observational and comparative field identification skills.

What will be covered during this course:

    • Practical experience in the field identification of salt marsh and sand dune plants.
    • Opportunities to carry out vegetation surveys in both habitats using a variety of survey techniques.
    • Time to explore habitats viewed in their environmental context, with special reference to the process of ecological succession.

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

    • Describe the plant species found in two different systems
    • Identify species and their adaptation to habitats
    • How to carry out vegetative surveys
    • Share this knowledge with friends, family, and fellow volunteers


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

Note: the field excursions involve walking up to a couple of miles on muddy or sandy terrain; therefore, course participants will need a reasonable degree of physical fitness.

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

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

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 FSC Dale Fort, please email [email protected].

Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

Tutor: John Archer-Thomson

For many years John Archer-Thomson was Assistant Head of Centre at FSC Dale Fort. He is now working as a freelance coastal ecologist, writer and photographer and runs a number of courses at Dale Fort each year. He co-wrote Rocky Shores, Volume 7 in Bloomsbury’s British Wildlife Collection.

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 10:00am on the Saturday, and 9:15am on the Sunday
  • The course will end at 5:00pm

Please note - lunch, refreshments and accommodation are not provided.

Day 1
10:00am Introductions and prepare for the field visit
10:45am Field visit to salt marshes
1:00pm Break for lunch - Not included
2:00pm Continued field time
3:00pm Classroom session covering

  • Ecological and successional context
  • Plant adaptations

4:30pm Classroom plenary and final questions
5:00pm Finish

Day 2
09:15am Introduction to the day and prepare for the field session
09:45am Field visit to salt dunes
1:00pm Break for lunch - Not included
2:00pm Continued field time
3:00pm Classroom session covering: Comparison of plants in each habitat
4:30pm Classroom plenary and final questions
5:00pm Finish

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 Field Studies Council 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 a Field Studies Council 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

  • Lunch and refreshments
  • Warm clothing
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Outdoor footwear – sturdy shoes or boots and wellies, these might get wet
  • Day rucksack
  • Warm hat and gloves for inclement weather and sunhat and sun cream for sunny days
  • A hand lens if you have one

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.

Sorry this course booking is closed