Skip to main content
Harper Adams University logo

    Short Courses/CPD

    Research Skills in Entomology

    Research skills in entomology is a 6-day course based at Harper Adams University in Shropshire. Our course covers the entire workflow of field-based ecological entomology research with particular emphasis on field sampling techniques, taxonomic identification and curation skills. The course will link together the full scientific methods process from hypothesis development, through to planning and completion of field and lab work, finishing with data management and analysis. We will focus on practical skill development in the lab and field, alongside a mix of short lectures and student-centred workshops. The training will be led by Dr Heather Campbell and Dr Simon Segar, with support from Dr Joe Roberts, Dr Ben Clunie and Dr Tom Pope. The course is supported by the Royal Entomological Society.  


    Learning Outcomes

    The training will focus on three broad training outcomes in the areas of fieldwork, species identification and data management and analysis

    Specific course learning outcomes are as follows:

    1) to understand how taxonomy, and in particular correct species identifications, are relevant to ecological and evolutionary research;

    2) to develop testable hypotheses for fieldwork that consider resource and feasibility constraints;

    3) to plan entomological field sampling and data collection with an understanding of rigorous experimental design;

    4) to carry out a range of insect sampling field techniques while assessing the strengths and limitations of different approaches;

    5) to curate an insect specimen collection, including the ability to prepare insect samples for identification;

    6) to use a range of online tools and traditional keys to identify insects from major groups; and 7) to analyse and interpret ecological and molecular data sets using appropriate R packages.



    The course runs for six full days from Monday 8th to Saturday 13th July. Participants have the option to arrive the evening before the course commences on 7th July and to depart the day after the course finishes on 14th July. The course is fully funded by NERC and free to attend. Course participants will have their own rooms based on the Harper Adams Campus. Food and accommodation are provided for the duration of the course. Travel expenses to Harper Adams University from within the UK will be refunded. The nearest train stations are Stafford and Telford.


    Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

    The course is open to anyone with no previous experience of entomology required. We particularly welcome applications from anyone who is underrepresented in academia, and especially in entomology or the ecological and environmental sciences. To ensure equality of access to this training opportunity places on the course will be awarded via a lottery ballot system, although priority will be given to NERC funded PhD students and ECRs. Fieldwork will take place on the Harper Adams University campus as this allows us to ensure full accessibility (for example, for those with limited mobility or sight impairments). There will never be more than fifteen minutes of walking to conduct sampling and this can be done from established walkways without traversing uneven ground. Field and lab work will be adapted to suit the needs of participants on the course.

    For any course queries please contact


    The course is fully funded by NERC and free to attend


    • 8-13 July 2024

    What will I study?

    Day 1 AM: Introduction. Course introduction, followed by lectures embedded with relevant case studies on i) taxonomic principles, ii) biodiversity and ecology for entomologists, and iii) evolutionary ecology. PM: Field methods. Workshop discussion on suitability of field collecting methods for different taxa and habitats. Field-based practical training in techniques for sampling flying insects and those found on vegetation.

    Day 2 AM: Field methods. Collection of day 1 traps with moth identification taking place in the field. Moth trapping will be used as an exemplar of best practice for field data collection and to demonstrate the use of digital recording schemes. Further training on field techniques for sampling ground-dwelling insects. PM: Research planning. A team-based active learning workshop using project planning tools and mind mapping software. Activities will focus on forming testable research questions, developing them into hypotheses and creating an appropriate field sampling design. Attendees can use examples provided from real ecological data or create plans based on their research area. The workshop will lay the foundations for integrating good experimental design with effectual data collection and statistical analysis.

    Day 3: Curation. A full day of lab-based training beginning with a number of short lectures on i) current knowledge on the systematic biology of insect orders, ii) insect external anatomy, and iii) the use of traditional identification keys alongside free, open source ID resources. Training on how to perform sample sorting and preliminary identification into higher-level taxa, followed by morphospecies sorting and the use of keys for detailed identifications. Attendees will be shown how to prepare specimens using appropriate pinning and mounting techniques, as well as how to label and curate a collection including consideration of imaging and databasing requirements. Critical discussions will focus on organisation and management of collections data.

    Day 4 AM: Ecological data.  Computer-lab tutorial on statistical analysis and interpretation of ecological data in R using the latest R packages. Attendees will be introduced to the unique challenges of analysing ecological data and given guidance on how to tackle this. PM: Identification. Lab-practical on identifying insects in the mega-diverse orders Hymenoptera and Diptera, accompanied by lectures on the biology, taxonomy, diversity and evolution of the groups. Specifically, knowledge will be set in the context of ever-changing scientific research with a focus on how taxonomic systems reflect cutting-edge findings in evolutionary biology.

    Day 5 AM. Molecular data. Computer lab tutorial/classroom-based workshop on the analysis and interpretation of molecular phylogenetic and population data and the importance of taxonomy in barcoding. This session emphasises data curation and the importance of high-quality data bases underpinned by expert taxonomy. It will draw on Dr Segar’s collaboration with the Arthropod ForestGEO initiative, a gold standard programme in monitoring tropical biodiversity. PM Identification. Session to follow the same format as day 4 but focusing on the orders Coleoptera and Lepidoptera.

    Day 6 AM: Identification. Session to follow the same format as day 4 but focusing on Hemiptera and smaller orders. PM. Workshop on data interpretation and presentation with a focus on data visualisation tools and techniques.


    For further information, course dates, and to book, please contact:

    Cookies on the Harper Adams University website

    We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time.