Botanical Foundations of Ethnobotany - SACO8840

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Autumn Term 7 15 (7.5) Alison Foster checkmark-circle


This module deals with botanical principles and practical taxonomic skills that every ethnobotanist should be familiar with. It includes an examination of different ways of organising plants, especially standard taxonomy and phylogeny. It also explores the various ways humans have used and valuated botanical resources. Some of the module will be devoted to the presentation by the students of a series of plant profiles that will result in a reference database of important plants that the students can use throughout their careers as ethnobotanists. Students will also receive training in handling botanical materials, producing voucher specimens and learning to use keys and floras to identify plants.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 32
Private study hours: 126
Total study hours: 150


MSc Ethnobotany

Method of assessment

Plant Profiles (40%)
Herbarium Voucher Specimens (30%)
Class Test (30%).

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework.

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

Rose, Francis: 1981. The Wildflower Key: a guide to plant identification in the field of the British Isles and NW Europe. London: Frederick Warne and Co.

Heywood, V.H. 1993. Flowering Plants of the World. New York: Oxford University Press

Harris, J.G. & Harris, M.W. 2001. Plant Identification Terminology. An Illustrated Glossary. Spring Lake Publishing.

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 identify and collect a variety of plant material and process them into herbarium voucher specimens

8.2 source, critically evaluate, synthesise and present botanical, anthropological and other pertinent ethnobotanical information regarding particular plant species

8.3 identify plants that belong to two of the major plant families of Ethnobotanical interest

8.4 be familiar with a variety of plants and their characteristics, which belong to of the 'functional groups'.

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 articulate and assess a number of botanical approaches to the classification of plants

9.2 understand the study of ethnobotany in relation to how the subject has developed

9.3 critically evaluate botanical information

9.4 present ideas systematically and cogently both orally and in writing

9.5 interact with peers and their seminar leaders in the exchange of ideas

9.6 summarise complex material succinctly


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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