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Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants MSc

Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants MSc

Key information

Qualification type

MSc - Master of Science

Subject areas

Ecology Natural History Botany

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.

Study for a Masters at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh on a unique programme that is preparing future generations of botanists in skills of increasing demand in the world.

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 Colombia 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.

There are few dedicated training courses that equip future experts to address the problems of plant taxonomy using a methodology that satisfies current demands worldwide. With fewer universities offering undergraduate courses in plant systematics, it is important to fill a gap in knowledge transfer and in linking students with the world of plants.

While a diversity of approaches exists to provide teaching and training in plant systematics and classification, these often do not provide a good balance between academic and practical approaches. Where post-graduate courses are on offer, access to either teaching staff or well-documented collections is restricted by imperfect infrastructure (e.g. distance between teaching establishment and collections).

The programme lasts 12 months and involves two terms of lectures, practicals, workshops and investigations, ending with examinations at the end of term and during the first week of the summer term.

On the basis of these exams and other programme-work, students then either embark on a four-month research project to qualify for the MSc, or are awarded the Diploma.

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.

Different course options

Study mode

Full time


1 year

Start date



Evolution of Angiosperms (10 Credits)
Biodiversity of Angiosperms (20 Credits)
Evolution of Cryptogams and Fungi (20 Credits)
Biodiversity of Cryptogams and Fungi (10 Credits)
Taxonomy and Plant Collections (20 Credits)
Phylogenetics and Population Genetics (10 Credits)
Plant Geography (10 Credits)
Conservation and Sustainability (10 Credits)
Tropical Field Course (10 Credits)
Research Project & Thesis (60 Credits)

Tuition fees

UK fees
Course fees for UK / EU students

The tuition fees for the academic year 2018-2019 for UK and EU students are £14,700, which are payable to the University of Edinburgh.

Average for all Postgrad courses (per year)


International fees
Course fees for non-UK / EU students

The tuition fees for the academic year 2018-2019 for international students (non-EU) are £29,100 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. Evidence of proficiency in English must be provided if this is not an applicant’s first language. For the IELTS test a global mark of 6.5 is needed (with no score lower than 6.0 in each section).