Integrating molecules with taxonomy and systematics


An introductory molecular phylogenetics course for species identification and evolutionary analysis.

The course is for anyone wishing to gain expertise in molecular diagnostics and phylogenetic analysis for systematic, taxonomic and ecological studies.

Taught by Museum scientists, we assume no prior experience with DNA sequence analyses for the course. This is an introductory course and it is not appropriate for more advanced students. A general understanding of molecular and phylogenetic terminology is assumed.

Course content

This course is designed to leave the participants feeling empowered and more capable of tackling independent analyses of their own data. Lectures will provide theoretical background prior to any practical applications. 

Each step, involving specific software, will be demonstrated and practiced in hands-on computer lab sessions. During computer lab sessions, we aim to have three tutors present to ensure a high level of assistance for the 12 participants. 

On the last day, participants will be able to analyse their own data or return to sections of the course of their own choice.

In addition to the formal training, course participants also have the opportunity to meet and discuss their research with Museum scientists.


Course participants will receive theoretical and practical training on how to: 

  • Edit raw Sanger and NGS sequence data for phylogenetic analysis (edit chromatograms, identify contamination)
  • Carry out multiple sequence alignments
  • Choose appropriate models of sequence evolution
  • Carry out phylogenetic analyses (including Bayesian inference, maximum likelihood)
  • Interpret tree topology and nodal support
  • Produce publication ready trees
  • Work with public sequence repositories
  • Assemble and annotate next generation sequence data
  • Delimit species using molecular data

Participants will also

  • Learn about different methods for phylogenetic analysis
  • Understand some problems associated with species delimitation
  • Recognise the potential of next generation sequencing 
  • Recognise the pros and cons of different markers for systematics and barcoding

More information

Course details in full (doc 226kb)


A phylogeny is essential for defining species boundaries, species identifications, recognition of cryptic species, testing systematic hypotheses, identifying evolutionary and biogeographic patterns and understanding the evolution of traits. As such, knowing how to produce a robust tree is an indispensable tool for modern taxonomists, systematists and evolutionary biologists. 

Dates and times

A five day course:

11-15 March 2019

Daily: 09.30-18.00

Application deadline: 7 December 2018

Course details

Please download the full course details

Download course details (doc 226kb)

Contact us

For more information about course content please contact Suzanne Williams.

For administrative questions (e.g. travel, accommodation) please contact Laura Miles.

How to apply

There are a maximum of 12 places available per course and priority will be given to those with BBSRC funding.

Application deadline: 7 December 2018

Download and complete the application form (doc 22KB) and return it to the address listed on the form by closing date 7 December 2018.

Funded by