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.

Of critical shortage are skilled scientists in plant and fungal taxonomy, scientists that underpin much bioscience, nature conservation, plant breeding work, as well as underpinning the development of environmental policy. This course delivers vital training to fill that skill shortage. The course will provide training in plant and fungal identification skills, in combination with a thorough grounding in molecular systematics, evolutionary biology, and conservation policy, theory and practice. 

Collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

This MSc course is delivered in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and you will be based there for some of your teaching. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was founded in 1759, and has the largest and most diverse collections of plant and fungal specimens and associated biodiversity databases in the world. The combination of extensive specimen collections, databases, and scientific research conducted on a global scale is unique, and means that Kew plays a leading role in facilitating greater access to basic plant information, underpinning science and conservation activities worldwide.

Kew’s 2020 Science Strategy outlines their responsibility to pass on their knowledge, skills and expertise to the next generation of plant and fungal scientists, both in the UK and globally, and to encourage and inspire questioning minds to delve further into pure and applied biodiversity science. Their objective is being achieved through offering this MSc programme in conjunction with QMUL. You can find out more about their science strategy on the Kew website.

This programme involves an exciting fieldwork module based at Kew’s Conservation Centre based in Madagascar, a biodiversity hotspot, where you will be immersed in research and conservation efforts. Other taught modules will be based at Queen Mary, Mile End campus.

Queen Mary and Kew have a number of long-established research links, and these have led to research papers in leading science journals such as Science, Trends in Plant Science, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, and Plant Journal.

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.

Study Details:

MSc 1 year Full time

Module Details:

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 and techniques in Madagascar

Individual research project

  • Original research (50 per cent of the course)

Programme Funding

There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

Student Destinations

Our new MSc will directly address the skills gap in taxonomy and systematics identified by the Natural Environmental Research Council and Living with Environmental Change in their 2012 report Most Wanted II. Postgraduate and Professional Skills Needs in the Environment Sector. We will train a new generation of taxonomists in cross-disciplinary skills with many applications in academia, government, industry, consultancy and non-governmental organisations.


Home and EU students 2019/20 Academic Year Full time £11,200 International students 2019/20 Academic Year Full time £21,950

Entry Requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class BSc (Hons) degree (or equivalent international qualification) in biology or other relevant natural sciences subject.  Applicants with a good lower second class degree may be considered on an individual basis, taking into account relevant background and related achievements.

This programme involves a compulsory fieldwork unit based in Madagascar.  Costs for flights, accommodation and meals are fully covered by the tuition fees – you will not have to contribute additional funds towards this field trip.  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 would recommend that applicants with any disability which may impact upon their ability to undertake such activities should contact the School to seek advice and discuss possible adjustments that could be implemented.

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