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Education courses

Learn more about the natural world from local experts in an informal and friendly atmosphere and meet other people who share similar interests.

Northumbrian Botany class field trip, Long Byres, Shaftoe Crags © Janet Simkin

Courses cover a range of topics including geology, botany, astronomy and ornithology. Courses vary in length from 4-20 weeks, with many consisting of indoor classroom sessions and outdoor field trips. NHSN is fortunate to have experienced and knowledgeable course tutors. Student feedback has consistently rated the course content, teaching style and lecturers’ knowledge very highly.

Current and upcoming courses

NHSN members will receive an e-newsletter announcing when Winter 2020 education courses are open for booking. We will advertise our courses on the website here, each of which will include a link to Eventbrite where you can register and pay for a place.

Education courses are only open to NHSN members.  Everyone is welcome to join NHSN.

29th
January
2020

A History of Astronomy

A History of Astronomy

Starting Wednesday 29 January, 7.00 – 9.00pm

Course tutor: Fred Stevenson
Course length: 7 weeks
Course structure: Indoor

Astronomy is the oldest of the sciences. In this course, we will see that by making careful observations and developing scientific models of the universe humans have, over the past several thousand years, gradually become aware of the vastness of space and our place within it. We will discuss how it was deduced that the Sun is just one amongst billions of stars, that planets, including Earth, are made from the ‘ashes’ of the nuclear furnaces within them (spread into space as stars explode at the end of their lives) and that our Milky Way galaxy is just one amongst countless others in a vast expanding universe.

This course will be held in the Percy Building on Newcastle University Campus. For a map of Newcastle University Campus, please click here.

Cost £70 (concessions £60)

Booking essential. To book, please go to Eventbrite here.

24th
February
2020

Botanical Art from the Very Beginning

Botanical Art from the Very Beginning

Leaves © Alison Cutts

Starting Monday 24 February, 1.15 – 3.15pm

N.B. This course is now fully booked, but there may still be places on the waitlist. To join the waitlist, follow the link to Eventbrite below, click on ‘Tickets’ and follow the instructions.

Course tutor: Alison Cutts
Course length: 5 weeks
Course structure: Indoor

Over five afternoon sessions, this gentle introduction to botanical art will ease you into the techniques used to create accurate observational drawings from botanical specimens. Each week, you will build in confidence and skill, moving from simple specimens to more complex material, and finish by drawing a whole plant.

The course is suitable for complete beginners as well as those with some experience in other types of drawing. It is not intended as a masterclass for scientific artists. All materials will be provided, but if you have favourite pencils and drawing paper please do bring them along. Whilst there is no specific ‘homework’ between the sessions, we hope participants will be inspired to draw independently throughout (and beyond) the course.

Cost £45 (concessions £40)

Booking essential. To book, please go to Eventbrite here.

29th
February
2020

QGIS: Introductory Workshop

QGIS: Introductory Workshop

Saturday 29 February, 10.30am – 3.30pm

N.B. This course is now fully booked, but there may still be places on the waitlist. To join the waitlist, follow the link to Eventbrite below, click on ‘Tickets’ and follow the instructions.

Course tutor: Derek Teasdale
Course length: 1 day
Course structure: Indoor session

Cost £40 (concessions £37)

This hands-on workshop will introduce participants to the concepts of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) through the use of the free open-source software package, QGIS. The morning session will cover GIS data types, file formats, coordinate reference systems (and jargon!). We will then move on to explore the QGIS package itself through the use of worked examples using real-world data. Participants will then have the opportunity to input and map their own data sets. The aim is to create a relaxed, informal atmosphere where participants can quickly discover the basics of QGIS, and save themselves a huge amount of initial effort.

Requirements:

1.  A laptop computer with a working installation of QGIS.  There will not be time to install QGIS on the day – this must be done prior to the workshop.  See below for further instructions.  NOTE:  THIS IS A HANDS-ON WORKSHOP, SO BRING YOUR COMPUTER WITH YOU ON THE DAY.
2.  Participants should have reasonably good I.T. skills: i.e. be proficient with Office type software, be able to install software, create directories and move files on their operating systems.
3.  The workshop is aimed at those with either very limited experience of GIS in general, or experience of other GIS packages (e.g. ArcGIS).

Installation of QGIS:
The GIS software that we will be using is QGIS: https://qgis.org/en/site/

QGIS is a user fiendly visual interface (or front-end) that allows numerous small back-end programs to manipulate and map geographical data.  QGIS versions are available for Windows, macOS, Linux, BSD and Android.  They can be downloaded from: https://qgis.org/en/site/forusers/download.html

The latest version, with the most features, is v3.10.  An older, more stable version, v3.4, is also fully supported.  If in doubt, install the older stable version (also known as the Long Term Release).  Our basic introduction will not need the features of the latest version.  The course will also show you how to easily upgrade QGIS using the tools included with the package.

QGIS has excellent documentation and an active user community.  Documentation and training materials can be found at: https://qgis.org/en/docs/index.html

It would be very helpful if you could work through the QGIS “Gentle Introduction to GIS”, prior to the course.  The workshop will briefly look at some of this material, which can be found at: https://docs.qgis.org/3.4/en/docs/gentle_gis_introduction/

Workshop Leader:
Derek Teasdale has over twenty years experience of using and teaching GIS systems.  He was the GIS lead at the University of Durham, I.T. Service, where he ran numerous training courses and assisted researchers develop advanced GIS solutions, using ArcGIS.  For the last ten years, Derek has concentrated on developing an expertise in using QGIS, especially in the use of LiDAR data, Digital Elevation Models(DEMs) and surface relief modelling.

Booking essential. To book, please go to Eventbrite here.

20th
April
2020

Botanical Art from the Very Beginning (April daytime)

Botanical Art from the Very Beginning (April daytime)

Leaves © Alison Cutts

Starting Monday 20 April, 1.15 – 3.15pm

N.B. This course is now fully booked, but there may still be places on the waitlist. To join the waitlist, follow the link to Eventbrite below, click on ‘Tickets’ and follow the instructions.

Course tutor: Alison Cutts
Course length: 5 weeks
Course structure: Indoor

Over five afternoon sessions, this gentle introduction to botanical art will ease you into the techniques used to create accurate observational drawings from botanical specimens. Each week, you will build in confidence and skill, moving from simple specimens to more complex material, and finish by drawing a whole plant.

The course is suitable for complete beginners as well as those with some experience in other types of drawing. It is not intended as a masterclass for scientific artists. All materials will be provided, but if you have favourite pencils and drawing paper please do bring them along. Whilst there is no specific ‘homework’ between the sessions, we hope participants will be inspired to draw independently throughout (and beyond) the course.

Cost £65 (concessions £60)

Booking essential. To book, please go to Eventbrite here.

20th
April
2020

Botanical Art from the Very Beginning (April evening)

Botanical Art from the Very Beginning (April evening)

Leaves © Alison Cutts

Starting Monday 20 April, 6.00 – 8.00pm

N.B. This course is now fully booked, but there may still be places on the waitlist. To join the waitlist, follow the link to Eventbrite below, click on ‘Tickets’ and follow the instructions.

Course tutor: Alison Cutts
Course length: 5 weeks
Course structure: Indoor

Over five evening sessions, this gentle introduction to botanical art will ease you into the techniques used to create accurate observational drawings from botanical specimens. Each week, you will build in confidence and skill, moving from simple specimens to more complex material, and finish by drawing a whole plant.

The course is suitable for complete beginners as well as those with some experience in other types of drawing. It is not intended as a masterclass for scientific artists. All materials will be provided, but if you have favourite pencils and drawing paper please do bring them along. Whilst there is no specific ‘homework’ between the sessions, we hope participants will be inspired to draw independently throughout (and beyond) the course.

Cost £65 (concessions £60)

Booking essential. To book, please go to Eventbrite here.

How to Book

To book a course please follow the Eventbrite link in the course description.

To enroll on our courses you must be a member of the Natural History Society of Northumbria. For details of membership click here.

Our courses vary in length, costs and the amount of time spent on field trips or in the classroom, so please check each course for details. All our courses are suitable for beginner and intermediate level unless stated otherwise.

For outdoor classes you will need to make your own way to the meeting point (although we encourage car sharing where possible). You will also need to be physically able to walk on unsurfaced paths and up steps/slopes.

Unless stated, classroom sessions take place either in the Great North Museum: Hancock or the University of Newcastle campus, both in central Newcastle upon Tyne.

Terms and Conditions

If you have questions about any of our courses, please contact us and we will be pleased to help, or you can download our full terms and conditions.

What Others Say

I really love being able to get to grips with specimens indoors, and then having the opportunity to see what we had studied actually growing outdoors. Fascinating!

Fiona Aungier, LOWER PLANTS STUDENT

I enjoy the course very much. Really, it’s just getting together with knowledgeable friends!

Barry McWilliam, QUATERNARY STUDENT

I like everything about my course! Our tutor is great, I really enjoy the field trips and you make friends with people who have the same interests.

Sylvia Jones, BIRDS OF THE NORTH EAST STUDENT

Having the courses in the Society’s home at the Great North Museum: Hancock enables us to look at the actual fossil specimens and appreciate them more.

Rose Kay, ORIGINS OF MAN STUDENT