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 2017 to 2018

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, starting in September of each year.

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 are now being accepted for the 2018/2019 academic year.

Find out more about the course and how to apply

Applications should be made through Queen Mary University of London.

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

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 3328



A number of bursaries are available for students accepted to study on the MSc in Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation for the 2018–19 academic year.

Kew £10,000 Bursaries

Five bursaries up to the value of £10,000 each are available. The funds can be used towards the appropriate tuition fees and other costs.

Purapharm Traditional Medicine Scholarship

We have a fully funded scholarship which includes academic fees, travel costs, accommodation and living expenses. The scholarship will also fund a six-month research project (as part of the MSc) including fieldwork in China. The student should have an interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine. They should be fluent in Chinese and English, and be willing to conduct their six-month research project on Traditional Chinese Medicine. There may be some travel to China required.

Applications for the above bursaries closed on Monday 30 April 2018.

B.A. Krukoff Fellowship in Systematics

A bursary is available for a student accepted onto the MSc in Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation for the 2018–19 academic year. The bursary is provided by the Bentham-Moxon Trust B.A. Krukoff Fund to support a student wishing to focus their MSc research project on Tropical African botany. The bursary itself will be administered by RBG Kew.
The value of the student bursary is up to £19,500 and covers a monthly accommodation allowance, subsistence and daily travel allowance, and includes a contribution towards any additional relevant costs the student may incur to participate in the Madagascar field trip. For students based outside London, a contribution towards travel costs to and from their home town/country will be covered at the beginning and end of the course only. The relevant tuition fees will be covered in addition to the bursary value.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must:

  • Have received an offer of a place on the Kew/QMUL Plant and Fungal Taxonomy Diversity and Conservation MSc programme for the 2018–19 academic year. Applicants who have received a conditional offer are also eligible to apply but, if awarded the bursary, they must fulfil all conditions of the offer no later than 31 August 2018.
  • Demonstrate an interest in Tropical African botany.
  • Demonstrate a botanical interest that aligns with Kew’s Science Strategy 2015–2020.
  • Demonstrate how they will continue to work and have an impact in Tropical African Botany after they complete the course.

The bursary recipient:

  • Must be eligible to study in the UK. Non-EU applicants are advised to check the UK visa requirements and application processes as early as possible, to ensure that they receive a visa before the start of the course in September 2018.
  • Must not be in receipt of any other bursaries or grants for completion of an MSc in the 2018–19 academic year.

Applications for the above bursary are now closed

​​​​​Further information about funding a Masters course