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MSc Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation

This exciting Masters course teaches vital plant and fungal identification skills in the context of evolutionary biology and conservation theory and practice. It includes a field course in Madagascar and a six-month research project.
Unwrapped seed of Ravenala madagascariensis (Strelitziaceae) - traveller’s palm; native to Madagascar (Photo: W Stuppy)

Course details 

With only a small percentage of the planet’s diversity formally described by science, it is more important than ever to train a new generation of taxonomists who will go on to describe, understand and conserve biodiversity. This course delivers vital plant and fungal identification skills in combination with a thorough grounding in molecular systematics, evolutionary biology, and conservation policy, theory and practice.

You will be taught by world-leading experts, internationally recognised for cutting edge research in plant and fungal sciences, applying new technologies to answer fundamental questions about the diversity of plant and fungal life on the planet, how it evolved and how we can best conserve it.

The following modules are offered.

Taught modules:

  • Plant Taxonomy and Diversity
  • Fungal Taxonomy and Diversity
  • Conservation and Ecosystem Science
  • Statistics and Bioinformatics 
  • Research Frontiers in Evolutionary Biology

Fieldwork module:

  • Field Skills in a Biodiversity Hotspot (Madagascar)


Note: Students should expect to undertake physically demanding work in remote locations. Applicants for the programme from outside the UK should ensure that there are no residency or travel restrictions that would prevent them from attending this course. We reserve the right to change the location of the fieldwork module in exceptional circumstances. 

Individual research project (50% of the course):

The individual research project enables students to focus on an area that interests them, with the vast scientific collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew available for investigative research. Projects can be based at either institution, depending on the specialism. Lab facilities are available at both locations and Queen Mary also has state of-the-art super-computing and informatics resources.

How is the course taught?

The course includes a combination of lectures, practicals, tutorials and fieldwork, using the extensive collections and expertise at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Queen Mary University of London. Students will be assessed on coursework submitted throughout the year and on their final year project.

 QMUL Kew MSc Programme Handbook for 2015–2016. A revised handbook with an updated reading list will be published for the new academic year (2016–2017).

Specimen of Cyttaria darwinii

Who is the course designed for?

The course is designed for biology graduates or graduates of other relevant natural science degree courses. Applicants with relevant professional experience in science will also be considered.

Career opportunities

The MSc Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation programme equips you with the knowledge and skills for PhD training in any area of taxonomy, molecular systematics, ecology, evolution, or more applied conservation work. The programme will train a new generation in cross-disciplinary skills with many applications in academia, government, industry, consultancy, and non-governmental organisations.

Course dates

The course is a one-year taught Masters programme. Admissions for September 2016 are now closed.

Students will be based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near Kew Gardens Underground station (District Line/London Overground) and Kew Bridge station (South West Trains). Two of the modules will be taught at the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, at the Mile End campus, near Mile End Underground station.

How to apply

Applications should be made through Queen Mary University of London.

Find out more about the course and how to apply

Applications for the 20162017 academic year are now closed.

Further information

 QMUL Kew MSc Programme Handbook for 20152016. A revised handbook with an updated reading list will be published for the new academic year (20162017).

A list of commonly asked questions by prospective students can be found here:

FAQs for prospective students

Postgraduate Admissions Office, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 3328



Two Kew bursaries are available for UK/EU applicants to the MSc in Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation.

Only applicants who have received a placement offer from QMUL can apply for these bursaries. To apply, please send an email to to indicate that you would like to be considered for one of these bursaries. In your email, please state why you wish to receive the bursary and confirm that you are an EU citizen and have not been awarded any other bursaries or grants for completion of an MSc in the 2016-17 academic year.

The amount awarded will be £17,000, to cover fees and a contribution towards accommodation and living expenses.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 11th September 2016.