This beginner marine course will introduce you to rocky shore ecology and be a chance for you to study and appreciate the adaptations, behaviours and interactions of a range of marine species.

The seashore is a boundary habitat where the transition from marine to terrestrial conditions produces a diverse assemblage of organisms over a short distance.

The course will start with a brief introduction to rocky shore ecology, followed by a visit to a nearby shore, where you can apply your classroom-based learning. Within the field, you will have the opportunity to collect specimens and then return to the laboratory where we will spend the afternoon identifying and examining them in the laboratory. During this course, you will have the chance to use a range of tools to identify the marine organisms we should find, including using both microscopes and identification guides.

You will spend your time on the beautiful Isle of Cumbrae on the Firth of Clyde, West Scotland at our Millport centre surrounded by the rich history as a marine research station.

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 Millport, please email [email protected]

*Bookings will close if course capacity is reached

If you are interested in taking your interest in marine environments a step further, learning how to use identification keys and microscopes, then this course is for you!

Who Should Attend?

Nature enthusiasts, Students, Rangers, Early career consultants and ecologists.

Knowledge Level

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

Prior Knowledge

Knowledge of basic marine terminology will be useful.

What will be covered during this course?

    • Introduction to Rocky Shore ecology
    • Identification of major groups of Rocky Shore organisms
    • Use of dissecting microscope
    • Use of marine keys

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

    • Explain basic elements of Rocky Shore Ecology
    • Identify common shore organisms
    • Use identification guides
    • Use binocular dissecting microscopes
    • Share this knowledge with friends, family, and fellow volunteers

The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our fantastic tutor will combine the use of classroom-led learning and outside learning opportunities to give individuals the skills and confidence to progress their learning.

    • 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

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!

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.

Tutor: Tom Stevenson

After completing his studies at the University of Manchester and subsequently at King’s College London, Tom began working in 1989 as a research assistant at the University Marine Biological Station on the Isle of Cumbrae, now reincarnated and rejuvenated as the Field Studies Council (Millport) Centre. Involvement in a wide variety of research projects and programmes, in subjects including aquaculture, fisheries management, power station antifouling strategies, seabed mapping and organism ecology and physiology has given him a broad knowledge of a wide range of marine biological techniques and issues. Tom’s long involvement with ship-borne operations has continued at FSC Millport, now with RV Actinia, an 11m catamaran purpose-built for marine teaching.
  • Flat periwinkles mimicking gas bladders on Bladder Wrack
  • Dogwhelks with eggs
  • Barnacles and periwinkles

Book with Confidence

We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here

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
  • The course will end at 5:00pm
10:00amIntroduction to the day and rocky shore ecology
11:00amField visit to Rocky Shore
1:00pmLunch - Not included
2:00pmBreak for lunch - Not included
1:30pmExamine and identify collected specimens in the laboratory
3:00pmBreak - Refreshments not included
3:30pmContinued lab session

Please note accommodation, refreshments and an evening meal are not included

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition

The course has been carefully created by expert tutors and educators to help you build 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

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.

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • Notebook and pencil
  • Lunch and refreshments
  • Sensible footwear and clothing for being outdoors
  • Small bag to carry personal items

Recommended guides

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.