Summer Field Course, Mongolia

Mongolia - Bactrian camel

2014 Field course applications are now closed

The Zoological Society of London's Mongolia-based Steppe Forward Programme (SFP) provides students from Mongolia and all accredited colleges or universities with a unique opportunity to learn about Mongolian biodiversity and conservation challenges and ecological fieldwork skills and tools in a unique natural setting amongst Mongolia’s steppe grasslands.

The course brings together a diverse group of Mongolian and international students bound by a common passion for ecology and environmental sustainability.

The field based course will be taught by conservation practitioners and scientists from the Zoological Society of London with input from lecturers from of the National University of Mongolia amidst Mongolia's unique rolling Steppe grasslands.

Students will experience traditional Mongolian nomadic lifestyle, camping and eating locally sourced traditional Mongolian food.


Students will stay in a small camp, sharing tents with other students. There will be a fully equipped kitchen and dining facility where meals will be served. Classrooms will be set up in a separate ger and most lessons will be held outdoors. Gers are large, round, traditional Mongolian tents.


The field course is a unique academic opportunity that allows students to learn from leading conservation practitioners and gain an appreciation for ecological processes and become equipped with the tools to study these processes.

The course will consist of introductory field techniques backed up by practical hands-on sessions in the field. Morning lectures will coincide with designated labs and topical discussions allowing students to apply classroom knowledge to practical sessions.

You will receive the course pack before your arrival that includes the course schedule, reading, assignments and field session guidelines which will help you prepare in advance for the course.

Typical daily activity will revolve around a morning lecture and afternoon field work which will provide an opportunity for students to interact closely with the course instructor(s), and to collaborate with other students who share the same interests.

SFP prides itself in offering an “outdoor classroom” format where concepts and theories will be discussed and practical enquiry can be honed and tested in field conditions. Ideas and interests will be shared and we hope that the students will be inspired to contribute towards the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats.

Topics covered under the course will include:

  • Study design and key protocols
  • Data collection: random and stratified sampling methods, laying and monitoring of transects, direct and indirect methods, collecting data on field attributes, point counts, mark-release-recapture, mist netting, camera traps.
  • Data analysis: null hypotheses, basic statistics and analysis of collected data.
  • Presentation of analysed data


English and Mongolian (translation provided).


1st to 3rd year biology or related subject undergraduates from a recognised higher education institution.

Students in good academic standing from all major colleges and universities may apply for the course.

About the Steppe Forward Programme

The Steppe Forward Programme is a collaboration between the Zoological Society of London and the National University of Mongolia. Since 2003, we have developed and implemented a wide-range of conservation projects across Mongolia.

At present, these projects include field courses, wildlife camera trapping, conservation assessments for the production of National Red Lists, publishing of field guides to the birds and mammals of Mongolia, and implementing conservation projects on species such as the long-eared jerboa and the wild Bactrian camel.

Education, awareness raising and training are of real importance for conservation in Mongolia. The Steppe Forward Programme has a strong record in these areas, in particular through organising and running student field-courses.

The Steppe Forward Programme aims to empower Mongolians to create and manage conservation programs by providing them with tools necessary to design and monitor their own conservation initiatives, assess wildlife populations and design ecological studies.

The programme intends to significantly strengthen skills and develop initiative amongst Mongolian professionals working in ecology and conservation, providing capacity for continued high standards of training and practical conservation needed in Mongolia.

Contact Information

Steppe Forward Programme

Address: Faculty of Biology, National University of Mongolia, Ikh Surguuliin Gudamj 1, Ulaanbaatar 210646, P.O. Box 46A/537, MONGOLIA