Field Techniques for Surveying Vegetation
About the course
This tutored online course aims to give you the essential knowledge and skills to conduct effective vegetation surveys.
You will receive highly practical expert training, helping you to
- understand beginning-to-end coverage of vegetation surveys
- learn about a wide range of surveying methods and techniques
- choose the best sampling strategies for vegetation survey
- understand how to handle and store data
Who the course is for
Professional ecological consultants, environmental managers and rangers, research and postgraduate students, and volunteers. The techniques covered are universal, and we use international case studies and examples.
Flexible online learning
You can take this online course from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection. You can log on at any time of the day and access our specially designed course materials, e-learning resources and tutor-led discussion forums. Students typically study on this course alongside their work.
The course can help you to apply for Chartered Status (such as Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Ecologist), and to meet relevant professional competency thresholds. Further information can be found in our Chartered status and essential skills guide.
- Rationale for surveying vegetation: Why survey vegetation? The wider context
- Choosing a vegetation survey technique: Approaches to surveying vegetation; how to plan a field project
- Structural methods of vegetation description
- Floristic methods of vegetation sampling
- Overview of quadrats and plotless sampling: Introduction to quadrats; what size? Species-area curves; qualitative or presence/absence data; plotless sampling where quadrats are inappropriate
- Quantitative or abundance measures; subjective measures; objective measures
- Vegetation monitoring permanent quadrats and vegetation mapping: methods of monitoring vegetation; setting up permanent quadrats; vegetation mapping
- Sampling strategy or protocol: stratified, random and systematic sampling; transects and grids; how many samples?
- Recording and storing data; diversity indices
- Case study: Virtual model of Magdalen College Meadow: the meadow habitat; the meadow flora; management; the virtual meadow; aims of the practical
Your course tutor will guide you through a series of key topics via reading materials, online activities, and discussion forums. Discussion forums are the primary space where students are able to interact with one another and their tutor to discuss questions, solve problems and share ideas just as they would expect to do in a face-to-face classroom setting.
Level and demands
The course is designed for Master’s-level students, and you are likely to be studying alongside students on our Postgraduate Certificate in Ecological Survey Techniques.
You can expect
- to engage with and contribute to the course around ten to 15 hours per week (depending on whether it is taken for credit or not)
- your course tutor will engage online for no less than six hours per week (usually distributed across each week and will focus on particular topics and activities)
- topics to be covered following a suggested calendar of activity (so that activities, discussion and reading are completed within the course week duration, and at an even pace)
- the course can be taken with or without Masters-level credit. Credit enables students to demonstrate their academic achievement and can count towards further postgraduate study
You can choose to study for academic credit or simply for the learning experience.
Students taking the course for credit submit an assignment of up to 2000 words or equivalent.
We offer Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for the course. By contributing to all the forums and successfully completing the assessment you will obtain 10 CATS-equivalent points (FHEQ level 7) which may count towards a Masters-level qualification. You will also receive a University of Oxford Certificate of Attendance.
For information on CATS points and credit transfer, including conversion to US academic credits and European academic credits (ECTS), please visit our CATS Points FAQ page.
Students taking the course not for credit do not submit an assignment.
By actively participating in at least one online course forum post per week, to the satisfaction of the course tutor, and successfully completing the course, you will receive a University of Oxford Certificate of Attendance.
Certificate of Attendance
You may receive a Certificate of Attendance whether you opt for accredited or non-accredited study (provided that you have met the requirements stated above).
This course is delivered online and uses the Department's online assignment submission system (for the course assignment). In order to meet course requirements, students will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.
Accredited fee: £770.00
Non-accredited fee: £440.00
Student rate (non-accredited study): £330.00
Dr Thomas Hesselberg
Course DirectorDr Thomas Hesselberg’s research focuses on behavioural ecology and comparative biomechanics of invertebrates primarily using spiders and their webs as model organisms. In particular, he is interested in how behavioural plasticity has evolved to cope with the constraints imposed by a relatively limited brain capacity and with the biomechanical constraints imposed by morphological and external environmental factors as well as silk material properties.
Dr Kerry Bridle
A large focus of her research has been on assessing land use impacts on natural vegetation in alpine and lowland environments on public and private land, particularly in Tasmania, Australia. As an applied ecologist one of her primary interests is in the application of appropriate field techniques to measure the impact of vertebrate herbivores (wild animals and livestock) on natural grasslands and grassy woodlands in Eastern and Central Tasmania. The results from her work are incorporated into decision support tools that are used to assist land managers with management decisions to enhance natural values.
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Apply to take the course for academic credit
If you are applying to take this course for academic credit you will need to complete and return the following documents, alongside a copy of your CV. Please ensure you read the guidance notes before completing the application form, as any errors resulting from failure to do so may delay your application.
Apply to take the course not for academic credit
If you do not wish to take this course for academic credit you will need to complete and return the following document, or use the enrol online button below. Please ensure you read the guidance notes before completing the application form, as any errors resulting from failure to do so may delay your application.
All candidates will need to:
- Hold a minimum qualification equivalent to a first Honours Degree (BA, BSc, etc). Non-graduates may be considered if they are able to demonstrate considerable experience in a relevant field. If in doubt, please email firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Offer some first-hand knowledge and/or experience of field work or conservation issues;
- Satisfy the minimum required English language criteria set by the University, being either a native English speaker, or able to offer test results as specified. Applicants with borderline scores may be accepted on condition that they attend a language course and gain an acceptable score;
- Demonstrate an ability to be able to commit the necessary time to study;
- Have good access to a computer and a fast/reliable internet connection;
- Demonstrate an ability to work alongside fellow students and tutors as part of an online community and independently.
Where requested, this should be supplied with your application. Applicants are advised to email email@example.com should they be unsure about the suitability of the referees they intend to use.
Please note that we do not request submission of written work.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support
also part of a wider programme of part-time accredited short courses available online.