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.

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


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. To gain university credits you must be registered for the programme in advance of this course. For further details please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). E-mail: [email protected]

The Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment.

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

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.

Please note, the fee is for tuition, packed lunch and refreshments only.

If you would like to book accommodation and an evening meal at FSC Preston Montford, please email [email protected]

Example Timetable

Please arrive at the Centre between 15:00pm and 17:00pm on the first day of your course in good time for a welcome introduction and evening meal usually 18.30pm, after which the course commences with a short evening session.

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
  • Lunch

Bursaries and Subsidies

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • Note-taking equipment (pen and paper is fine!).
  • A computer pre-installed with the latest ‘long-term-release’ of QGIS and with wifi capability.*