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MSc Degree and Postgraduate Diploma Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants

MSc Degree and Postgraduate Diploma Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants

Different course options

Study mode

Full time


1 year

Start date


Key information

Qualification type

MSc - Master of Science

Subject areas

Plants / Shrubs (Amenity Horticulture) Natural History Gardening Ecology

Course type


Course Summary

The MSc in Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants is a one-year Masters course run jointly by the University of Edinburgh and RBGE. The programme focuses on understanding the diversity of the world of plants and fungi with a strong emphasis on their identification.

Students have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a two-week field trip to a tropical country where they develop important skills in the identification of tropical plants. They also undertake a three month scientific research project of their choice during the summer months.

RBGE is one of the top four botanic gardens in the world, a global leader in plant science and conservation. The organisation dates back to 1670 and its living collection of plants comprises 13,500 species across four botanic Gardens in Scotland amounting to five per cent of known world species. It also has a Herbarium of 3 million preserved plant specimens, including bryophytes, fungi and lichens, and one of the UK’s most comprehensive botanical libraries.

Most course work is delivered at the Garden's main site in Edinburgh, close to the plant collections, by world-leading scientists and recognised experts from RBGE and the University of Edinburgh. The School of Biological Scientists at the University is a centre of excellence for research in Plant Sciences and Evolutionary Biology.

Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city, is a historic yet modern and vibrant city in which to live and study and welcomes students from around the world.

Students will also achieve PgDip exit awards during this course.

Career opportunities

The majority of students find medium or long term employment in taxonomy, and many continue to PhD studies. Although the programme is not a guarantee for future employment, it has facilitated access to various jobs in the past - at research institutions, councils, conservation agencies etc.


This course examines the origins of terrestrial plants from green algae and follows the timeline of the appearance of their principal innovations, and their evolution from their earliest known attempts to colonize the land in the early Palaeozoic to the present day. The major impacts of plants on the structure, atmosphere and climate of the Earth, and their feedbacks to plant evolution will be discussed in relation to molecular, ultrastructural and morphological data and fossil evidence.

Tuition fees

UK fees
Course fees for UK / EU students

For this course (per year)


Average for all Postgrad courses (per year)


International fees
Course fees for non-UK / EU students

For this course (per year)


Average for all Postgrad courses (per year)


Entry requirements

Applicants preferably have a university honours degree with a 2.1 or above, or its equivalent, in a biological, horticultural, or environmental science, but above all a genuine interest in plants. Relevant work experience is desirable but not essential.