The British Phycological Society in association with the University of Plymouth & the Marine Biological Association of the UK


Introduction: 16th to 17th May &

Advanced: 18th to 20th May

based at the University of Plymouth Marine Station & the Marine Biological Association of the UK

By Professor Prof. Christine Maggs (JNCC, Peterborough) & Francis Bunker (MarineSeen, Pembrokeshire) with Prof. Juliet Brodie (Natural History Museum), Prof. Jason Hall-Spencer (University of Plymouth) & Anne Bunker.

Guest Lecturer (Advanced Course): Line Le Gall (Assistant Professor, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris).

Topics to be covered – Introduction

  • Common shore species and how to identify them
  • Rock pools, overhangs and special seaweed habitats
  • Use of keys and identification guides, microscopes and identification in the lab
  • Pressing seaweeds
  • Water Framework Directive Species Identification

Topics to be covered – Advanced

  • Identifying seaweeds from ‘difficult’ marine habitats e.g., marinas and lagoons where there are many filamentous seaweeds and how to recognise non-natives
  • Identify the slime; filamentous red, brown and green seaweeds
  • Difficult flat red seaweeds
  • Encrusting seaweeds
  • Laboratory techniques for sectioning and staining
  • Preparing specimens for DNA extraction and analysis techniques
  • Culture of seaweeds for research purposes

We are offering two modules for this course, an introduction to seaweeds aimed at beginners or those who feel that they need a refresher in the basics and an advanced module for those who want to look at seaweeds in more detail and get to grips with the more difficult groups (e.g., slimy green and brown seaweeds and red seaweeds that can only be identified reliably under high powered microscopes or by sectioning). Attend the whole 5-day course for total immersion in the world of seaweeds.

Numbers will be limited to enable the tutors to cater for individual needs of interested amateurs, professional biologists requiring further training or refreshers, students (graduate and post graduate), artists, and those working with the Water Framework Directive.


The Plymouth area has an exceptionally diverse intertidal flora and offers habitats for marine algae ranging from open coast to sheltered rock and sediment and from fully saline to estuarine conditions. It is an ideal location at which to base this course with excellent laboratory facilities and proximity to field sites. (This year, laboratory sessions will be at the Plymouth University Marine Station – the Marine Biological Association (MBA) labs are closed for building works this year – with food at the MBA).

Outline of Module – An introduction to seaweeds

Start: Monday 16th May 09:00. End: Tuesday 17th May 17:00

(Sites chosen for field visits may vary depending on weather conditions etc.)

Day 1 (Monday, 16th May) – A guided tour of a rocky shore to find the different seaweeds characterising each zone. Seaweeds will be collected to take back to the laboratory for identification. There will be introductory lectures on the topics of seaweed and seaweed identification.

Day 2 (Tuesday, 17th May) – Field trip to a contrasting habitat followed by laboratory identification and short talks on a variety of topics.

Outline of module – Advanced seaweed identification

Start: Wednesday 18th May 09:15. End: Friday 20th May 17:00:

(Sites chosen for field visits may vary depending on weather conditions etc.)

Day 3 (Wednesday, 18th May) – A field trip to collect seaweeds from one of the species rich shores in Plymouth Sound, followed by intensive laboratory sessions on identification. Skills in the use of keys based on microscopic characters, sectioning and staining will be taught and practiced.

Day 4 – (Thursday, 19th May) – A second field trip to a local marina in Plymouth Sound with identification concentrating on filamentous algae and non-native species.

Day 5 – (Friday, 20th May) – This will concentrate on laboratory time and practice / consolidation of techniques learned. The topic of molecular taxonomy will be introduced and together with a summary of techniques involved. There will be an opportunity for further field collections if requested.

Costs and applications

16th to 20th May: Whole Course (Introduction + Advanced Course) – A whole week’s immersion in the world of seaweeds. Course fee £400.

16th to 17th May: Introduction – Course fee £170.

18th to 20th May: Advanced – Course fee £260.

The MBA provides excellent catering and can provide packed lunches and evening meals. There may be evening lectures and a chance to work on in the laboratory. Wine and coffee is included with the 3-course evening meals, served in the historic MBA dining room with views over Plymouth Sound. The menu has different choices each day. When ordering meals, please indicate your dietary requirements on the application form. The lunches include sandwiches, biscuit, fruit and crisps.

Select a catering option from the list below (prices include VAT):

  • 5 lunches and 4 evening meals £220 (whole week)
  • 2 lunches and 1 evening meal £62 (Introduction Course only, not staying for meal Tuesday evening)
  • 2 lunches and 2 evening meals £105 (Introduction Course only, but staying for meal Tuesday evening)
  • 3 lunches and 2 evening meals £115 (Advanced Course only)
  • Self-catering

Application forms

NB: The introduction course is filling up fast please check course availability first for both courses by contacting the course administrator Sally Archer-Thomson at Sally will email you back to confirm either way. If there are places available you will be provisionally added to the booking list. All fees are payable in advance (before 31st March 2022) to MarineSeen. If order numbers are required prior to invoices being paid, please supply ASAP.


Payment either by BACS, cheque or PayPal (credit cards can only be accepted through PayPal below)

Please send cheques (payable to ‘MarineSeen’) and completed application forms to: Honey Hook Cottage, Lower Freystrop, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom, SA62 4ET. Application forms can also be emailed to

PayPal Payments

If you would like to pay by PayPal/credit card please select on the drop down course options/catering options below. Then click add to cart which will take you straight to your Paypal/credit card payment screen (opens in a new tab). Once at this screen you have the option to change the quantity if you would like to book for more than 1 person. If you would like to add on extras to your booking, such as a catering option, click ‘continue shopping’ on the Paypal cart screen and it will bring you back to this page where you can add other options to your cart. (Please do check course availability first)

Course options – please choose from the following:

  • Introduction Course – 16th – 17th May (£170.00)
  • Advanced Course – 18th – 20th May (£260.00)
  • Whole Course (Introduction + Advanced Course) – 16th – 20th May (£400.00)

Catering options – please choose from the following:

  • 5 lunches and 4 evening meals £220 (whole week course)
  • 2 lunches and 1 evening meal £62 (Introduction Course only, not staying for meal Tuesday evening)
  • 2 lunches and 2 evening meals £105 (Introduction Course only, but staying for meal Tuesday evening)
  • 3 lunches and 2 evening meals £115 (Advanced Course only)


Plymouth is easily reached by road, ferry, public transport and there are airports at Bristol and Exeter. The map below shows the proximity of the MBA and the University of Plymouth Marine Station.


There are many small hotels, B&B’s & Airbnb’s within walking distance of the Marine Station and the MBA.

Map to show location of MBA (left) and Plymouth University Marine Station (right)


  • Course participants asked to bring:
  • Waterproofs
  • Wellie boots
  • Field Note Book + soft pencil
  • Hand lens
  • Poly bags / containers for collecting
  • Basic dissecting kit (forceps, scalpel, scissors)
  • Seaweed press + paper etc. if you want herbarium specimens
  • Rucksack
  • Flask
  • Lunch box
  • Identification books – the more the better but particularly:
  • Seaweeds of the British Isles series of books and the 
  • Seasearch Guide to Seaweeds (2nd edition). This can be purchased from the MarineSeen web site and will also be available to buy at the course.

To be provided:

  • Microscopes
  • Seawater

If you have a microscope of your own that you are prepared to bring, then please do.