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During this QGIS course, participants will be introduced to the fundamental concepts of GIS and using QGIS as a tool to explore biological records and ecological data.

Formerly known as Quantum GIS, QGIS is a freely available open-source Geographic Information System (GIS) of the highest quality.

Thanks to a community of dedicated and talented developers and an active and vocal user community, QGIS matches the functionality and usability of commercial products like MapInfo and ArcGIS. An increasing number of ecologists and biological recorders are using QGIS to help them visualise, explore and analyse their spatial data.

We will explore options for obtaining and displaying basemap data (e.g. Ordnance Survey basemaps and Google and Bing aerial imagery), accessing other free value-added data, e.g. via web services, capturing spatial data including that generated by GPS smart-phone apps or hand-held GPS, registering and manipulating raster data, and producing maps for reports or for display on the web. We will explore advanced use of the FSC QGIS plugin and introduce various methods of data synthesis, display and analysis.

By the end of the course you should feel that you have an in-depth understanding of the range of capabilities of QGIS and the ways it can help you in your work. You will have gained considerable experience of carrying out some of the most important spatial data generation and management tasks with QGIS.

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. There is no accommodation provided with this course. If you would like to book accommodation, lunch and an evening meal 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 fundamental concepts of GIS
  • Sources of basemap data available for use in QGIS, and how to obtain and load those data into QGIS
  • OS grid references in QGIS
  • Procedures for creating new vector fata layers in QGIS and capturing point, line and polygon data
  • Procedures for importing data from GPS devices into QGIS and working with it
  • Raster data from registering raster images to manipulate colou palettes and managing transparency
  • Options for displaying their own biological records in QGIS and creating map layers from them
  • Accessing other value-added sources of environmental data with QGIS, including web-services and digital terrain models
  • Producing high-quality maps for reports or websites from QGIS
  • Analysing data in QGIS

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

  • Demonstrate the ability to source basemaps, work with OS grid referencing systems, create new vector data layers and import data from GPS devices into QGIS
  •  Evalaute the possible options for data anlysis in QGIS


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.


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 report, to illustrate the distribution of a given UK species of conservation concern. The report should be illustrated with a maximum of five maps. A map must be produced with displays the UK distribution of your chosen species, with an indication of how the species richness varies across the county. At least one map should zoom to a smaller area and illustrate distributions at a finer scale. The maps should be embellished with some of the following elements: legends, scale-bars, text etc. to aid in interpretation. Make use of any additional data layers that might help you to explain or contextualise the distributions of these two species.(2000 words).


Tutor: Dan Carpenter

Dan Carpenter is an ecologist and environmental data scientist. I am interested in using environmental data to support evidence-based decision making. I think good data are the foundations of good decisions and much of my work is about turning good data into evidence to support those decisions.  I have a general interest in natural history, with specific interests in soil organisms, plant galls and habitats.  I set up the Earthworm Society of Britain during my post-doc at the Natural History Museum, and I have run survey programmes for barn owls, amphibians and veteran trees.  Dan uses GIS daily and has a wide range of experience in mapping and spatial data analysis. He has taught GIS courses to biological recorders in his previous role at the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre.

Book with Confidence

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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).

Introduction and basics.

Sourcing and viewing map data.

Creating and capturing map layers.

Analysis and exercise.

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

  • A computer pre-installed with the latest ‘long-term-release’ of QGIS and with wifi capability.
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Camera to capture images
  • Sensible footwear and clothing for being outdoors