Summer Field Course, Mongolia

Mongolia - Bactrian camel

Applications for the 2020 Summer Field Course will open in early 2020. Please follow @ZSLConservation for updates and find out more here


Every year the Zoological Society of London’s Steppe Forward Programme brings together students from the National University of Mongolia (NUM) and students in higher education from around the world for a two week field course held in the Mongolian steppe. The course is a unique opportunity to learn about conservation and ecological fieldwork techniques amongst Mongolia’s beautiful landscapes.

The field course contributes to the aims of the Steppe Forward Programme by furthering the conservation capacity of Mongolian Students at the NUM, as well as providing key career skills to international students, and fostering international bonds and collaboration. The course aims to provide the tools and inspiration for a career in conservation and ecology.

The field course is taught by conservation practitioners and scientists from the Zoological Society of London as well as lecturers from the National University of Mongolia; bringing together several nationalities under the umbrella of conservation.

Key topics covered, include, survey design, data analysis and conservation challenges, as well as practical field techniques, all taking place in the incredible rolling landscape of the Mongolian Steppe.

The field course is held in a traditional Mongolian ger camp; students will experience the traditional Mongolian nomadic lifestyle, camping and eating locally sourced traditional Mongolian food.


Students will sleep in Mongolian traditional round tents known as gers, sharing accommodation with other students in the group. There will be a fully equipped kitchen from which meals will be served. Classrooms for lectures will be held in a separate ger, and most practical sessions will be held outdoors.

Mongolian Gers on the ZSL summer field course Hustai
ZSL Summer Field Course 2014

Course Contents

The field course is a unique academic opportunity that allows students to learn from leading conservation practitioners, and get practical experience with key fieldwork skills to help prepare them for careers in conservation and ecology.

Typical daily activity begins with early morning fieldwork, followed by lectures before lunch and field work in the afternoon. The course provides an opportunity for students to interact closely with the course instructors, and to collaborate with other students who share the same interests.

Fieldwork skills taught usually include, remote camera trapping, bird mist netting, small mammal trapping, and distance sampling.

Topics covered in the lectures include conservation challenges, biodiversity, population ecology, survey design and data analysis.

Before arrival, students will receive a course pack that includes the course schedule, reading, assignments and field session guidelines which will help them prepare in advance for the course.

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.

Many of our field course students have gone on to post-graduate study at some of the world’s leading scientific institutions such as Imperial College London and University College London, and some have continued to work alongside ZSL Scientists on our global programmes. 


English and Mongolian (translation provided).



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

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, conservation and monitoring of the wild Bactrian camel, and projects combating illegal wildlife trade in Mongolia.


Education, raising awareness, 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

Dr Samuel Merson: