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Portugal Conservation Field Course


Admission requirements

This two-weekfield course is offered as an elective. The application procedure will involve a resume, motivation letter and a transcript of grades. There are 8 places available and each student will receive a partial scholarship from Erasmus that will cover accommodation, food and on-site travel (for details see end of document).


Coordinator: Dr. Emily Strange


The Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) of Leiden University has developed a new collaboration with the CERES International Project ( , an organisation located in Portugal specialising in training interdisciplinary groups of students in the field of sustainability and conservation. Students will be made acquainted with local sustainability issues in relation to the conservation of its biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides.
In teams, students from Leiden University as well as other universities from across Europe, will work on projects to investigate human threats and opportunities for sustainable use and preservation of the natural environment. CERES is situated within the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, the largest stretch of the Portuguese coastline that is subject to special protection. The Natural Park is the least urbanised coastal area of Portugal and covers over 74,000 hectares of rolling hills, marshland, imposing cliffs, rocky coves and broad beaches. The park itself, classified in the Natura 2000 Network and IBA (Important Bird Area), offers opportunities for work experience and research in protected areas and sustainable land management.
Students will work in groups of 5 and develop their own research questions, sampling design and data analysis under supervision of staff from CERES and the participating universities. Students will spend 14 days at the CERES location in Portugal to collect and analyse data as well as learn important field skills. Within each of the projects, the research will have a clear transdisciplinary component to exchange views on sustainable use of natural resources with local stakeholders. In addition, each project is expected to combine measurements on impacts on biodiversity and/or ecosystem services with social science research, e.g. through interviews. In combination, these activities will provide the students will an integral view on sustainable use of natural resources.
To support the project work, lectures on local biodiversity, cultural and political backgrounds will be provided both by teachers and by peer-to-peer teaching. These activities are intermingled with excursions and social activities.

Course objectives

After completion of the course, students are able to:

  • Understand the mechanisms through which human society affects biodiversity.

  • Understand how societal contexts affect our sustainable use of natural resources

  • Further their understanding on how the interaction between society and biodiversity can be investigated.

  • Learn how to develop and execute a research project to investigate biodiversity and sustainability issues from an interdisciplinary perspective.

  • Know how to quantitatively analyse data collected by field research

Final qualifications:
The student has an overview of the basic scientific concepts to understand the interactions between society, sustainability and biodiversity and to formulate their founded opinion on these matters.


From ca. 25 June to July 9 2023.

Mode of instruction

Mode of instruction:

  • Lectures and excursions introducing the concepts including the societal setting

  • Project research (research proposal, field research, data analysis and report)

Assessment method

The grade for the course is based on a number of components:

  • Research proposal and execution of their research

  • Oral presentation(s) on the research done

  • Written report
    Detailed instructions on each of these components will be provided in the field course

Reading List

The reading list will be made available on Brightspace.


There are a maximum of 8 available places. A registration form will be made available via Brightspace. You will need to apply through this form……. The deadline is May 15 at midnight. We will inform you in the days after the deadline if you have been selected. If you have any questions please contact


This course has some additional costs involved:

  • The contribution per student for the local transport costs, accommodation and food will be 230EUR which will be paid directly to CERES on site.

  • In addition, students have to arrange and pay for their travel to Portugal, their visa (if required, for example for non-EU students) and insurances (universal health insurance with world coverage, third party liability, travel insurance).

  • All students will be required to attend a pre-departure briefing session hosted by the coordinator to discuss preparation, travel list and safety.


Please note student safety is our top priority and as such field courses may be subject to alteration/cancellation due to potential continuation of Covid19 travel restrictions.