Seed of Ravenala madagascariensis (traveller’s palm); native to Madagascar (Photo: W. Stuppy) > Kew Science > Training and education > MSc in Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation

MSc in 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.

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 their cutting edge research in plant and fungal sciences. You will learn how to apply new technologies to answer fundamental questions about the diversity of plant and fungal life on Earth, how it evolved and how we can best conserve it.

The course is comprised of the following modules:

Taught modules

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

Fieldwork module

  • Field Study Skills in a Biodiversity Hotspot (Madagascar)

Note: Students should expect to undertake physically demanding fieldwork 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 Kew's vast scientific collections available for investigative research. Projects can be based at Kew, Queen Mary University of London or Wakehurst (home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank), depending on the area of specialism. Lab facilities are available at each of the locations, including Queen Mary's state of-the-art supercomputing 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 Kew and Queen Mary University of London. Students will be assessed on coursework throughout the year, and on their final year project.

Kew MSc Programme Handbook and reading list for 2016 to 2017

Who is the course designed for?

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

Career opportunities

The MSc in Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation will equip you with the knowledge and skills for PhD training in any area of taxonomy, molecular systematics, ecology, evolution, or more applied conservation work. Graduates will also possess cross-disciplinary skills suitable for a wide range of applications and careers in academia, government, industry, consultancy and non-governmental organisations.

Course dates

The course is a one-year taught Masters programme. Admissions for September 2017 are now open.

Students will be based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near to 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 2017–2018 academic year are now open.

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

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 3328



Details of bursaries available for the Programme will be posted here as they arise.

Emily Holmes Memorial Scholarships

The Emily Holmes Memorial Scholarships offer funding for postgraduate students to work on projects that will benefit Kew. Awards are given either for academic fees or for the cost of carrying out research projects. While there is no restriction on the nature of the projects undertaken, they must be part of the applicant’s postgraduate qualification work and support Kew’s Science Strategy.

The Trust is particularly keen to encourage applicants who are finding it difficult to secure funding from other sources and in a position where a grant would make a significant contribution to their studies. The maximum grant size is £3,000.

Find out more about the Emily Holmes Memorial Scholarships

Further information about funding a Masters course

Further information

Kew MSc Programme Handbook and reading list for 2016 to 2017

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

FAQs for prospective students