Foundation: Introduction to Phycology Course Information

Foundation: Introduction to Phycology

Why is a foundation in phycology important?

Without understanding how algae and cyanobacteria cells are structured, how they respond to changing conditions and behave in bloom with other taxa, the interpretation of data from a water body or the analysis are only numbers on a page.

This course aims to introduce algae and cyanobacteria from a fundamental perspective and understand their environment, how they gain an advantage, and how they impact the waterways they dominate.

This course also introduces the foundation of identification by introducing the morphological features of eukaryotic algae and cyanobacterial cells, how to differentiate them as a foundation skill in phycology, and then an overview of

Who is it for?

This FOUNDATION level course is suitable for students, early career or developing technicians, scientists, engineers, and hobbyists to gain knowledge and applicable skills in eukaryotic algae and cyanobacteria. The course is presented by Lindsay Hunt, a microbiologist and biochemist specialising in phycology and a technical trainer with over 25 years of experience in brightfield and phase contrast microscopy.

What will I learn in this course?

The course begins by looking at foundation concepts in phycology to understand environmental conditions and water quality. It looks at how the water column behaves and the importance of dissolved oxygen. There is a brief overview of sampling, monitoring and mitigation strategies.

The following section examines the water dynamics of natural and artificial systems and dam turnover. There is also a section on events often associated with or attributed to algal blooms.

We look at the first skill required in phytoplankton identification and analysis, learn to differentiate between eukaryotic algae and cyanobacterial cells and look at the cellular structure and photosynthesis of the two groups.

The next section takes a more detailed look at cyanobacteria, the metabolism and byproducts, and a closer look at how different taxonomic groups of taxa within a bloom may interact.

The course’s final section is dedicated to looking at the morphological characteristics of cyanobacteria as a foundation for the identification courses, and there is a table detailing the current cyanobacterial taxonomic scheme.


  • A downloadable textbook with 74 pages of content
  • A downloadabe workbook with exercises to enhance learning
  • Online content to complement the text with 75 minutes of presentations and animations


  • Foundation skills in phycology theory and cellular features for identification
  • Self-paced learning
  • Email learning support
  • Certificate of attainment and course outline for inclusion in training records

Course Outline

Module 1: Course Information & Resources

Meet your trainer, Course Overview, Course Outline

Course Resources, Downloads & Instructions

Module 2: Introduction to Phycology

Ecology, Climate Change & Human Influences

Water Bodies, Water Column Dynamics & Dissolved Oxygen 

Monitoring, Sampling & Mitigation

Module 3: Water Dynamics

Natural vs. Artificial Water Bodies

Dam Turnover

Other Water Events

Module 4: Eukaryotic Algae vs. Cyanobacteria

Down the Microscope: Telling Them Apart

Eukaryotic Algae


Module 5: Cyanobacterial Adaptations

Motility, Movement & Reproduction

Nutrient Acquisition & Response

Toxins, Taste & Odour Compounds

Cyanobacterial Bloom Dynamics


Module 6: Cyanobacterial Morphology & Taxonomy

Cyanobacterial Morphology: Colonies, Trichomes & Unicellular

Revisions to the Cyanobacterial Taxonomic Scheme

Module 7: Summary & Final Assessment

Summary & Key Learnings

Final Assessment & Course Feedback Form