Perfume Courses

We have been making perfume for over 40 years and are passionate about passing on our knowledge through our popular perfumery courses.

Chief perfumer, Chartered Chemist and owner of Cotswold Perfumery, John Stephen has acquired an enviable reputation for creating high-end, bespoke fragrances. This reputation has led to an impressive customer portfolio, including a number of high profile individuals including Her Majesty the Queen! John’s success led to his desire to share his gift and knowledge with others through regular perfume courses.

All courses are delivered by John at the Cotswold Perfumery in the beautiful village of Bourton-on-the-Water, The Cotswolds. We are privileged to be one of only six independent perfumers in the UK.

Our courses offer a unique insight into the life and work of an independent perfumer and the delicate balance of Art and Chemistry in the perfume making process.

What to expect from our perfume courses

Our perfume courses bring together a whole range of people; from aspiring perfumers to hobbyists interested in finding out more about the art of perfumery and wanting to create unique gifts for friends and family. Our courses incorporate both the theoretical and practical aspects of perfume creation.

Level 1 Course - £195

Suitable for absolute beginners

Introduces the basic concepts and perfume classifications and ends with the creation of a perfume. 

Your journey into the fascinating world of perfume creation begins with the theory of perfume making. During the morning session our Chief perfumer John Stephen will talk you through the basic concepts for perfume creation including fragrance composition, characteristics of each raw material and the stages of the perfume-making process. There will also be a guided tour of the fragrant perfume garden.

In the afternoon, with the help of your newly acquired perfumery knowledge and John’s support, you will have the opportunity to create your own bespoke perfume.

Perfect for...
Our Level 1 courses are the perfect gift for someone who has an interest in perfumery, and for those considering perfumery as a career, it also provides excellent insight into the perfume industry and real world experience of a fully operational perfume laboratory. 

By the end of the Level One course you will…

  • Understand how perfumes can be grouped into classifications so that you have a framework within which to understand fragrances and be able to choose your perfume more knowledgeably. 
  • Know how to structure a perfume and build it from raw materials
  • Understand blending techniques and typical pitfalls
  • Appreciate the importance of balance and harmony in a perfume and how to achieve these qualities
  • Know how to use the equipment accurately and safely



Level Two Course - £750

Advanced techniques

A two-day (weekend) course for Level 1 "graduates" to create their own fragrance and produce the required documentation for it.

Level 2 courses are open to Level 1 “Graduates” who want to expand upon their knowledge and create custom perfumes as a hobby or commercially. The course takes participants through the development of a typical perfume formulation and creation of more complex fragrances, whilst the theory focuses on teaching the professional requirements for perfume creation; including documentation, and covering the applicable Law. 

We use more complex fragrances and the perfume kit has a wider range of materials (60 as opposed to 25 in our Level 1 course). Our group size is purposely smaller to allow more one-to-one support and guidance.

As far as we know, no other course offers such extensive practical and theoretical training. Which we believe is why students travel across the globe (quite literally) to attend our courses.  

By the end of the Level Two course you will…

  • Know how to produce the necessary documentation to conform with regulations
  • Be sure that your fragrances are safe to go out on the market.
  • Have a set of template documents which will make future perfume documentation easier 
  • Understand each step in the build of a typical perfume formulation, and;
  • the effect of the addition of even very small quantities of materials!

Things you need to know…

  • Please note that we only currently offer courses in English.
  • The legislation covered in the course is European Law, and whilst it is true to say that there is considerable convergence worldwide – there are still variations outside Europe that are not covered on the course.
  • Your trainer will be John Stephen BSc MRSC CChem who has over 45 years’ experience in the industry as an independent creative perfumer.
  • Minimum entry requirements – completion of the Cotswold Perfumery Level 1 course.
  • Level 2 is a two day course held over the weekend (Saturday and Sunday). We understand that many participants may require accommodation. The Perfumery and Promenade in Cheltenham can be booked by course participants for Friday and Saturday night (if booked for both nights we offer a £50 discount on accommodation costs. If your travelling partner is also doing the same Level Two course you will receive a £100 discount on the accommodation).
  • For those staying in the Promenade, Cheltenham, transport to and from the Perfumery on the Saturday and Sunday is offered - free of charge.

Lab Days - £135

Practice makes perfect 

Our Lab Days are an opportunity for quality practice time.  They are a chance to spend a day experimenting and creating formulations in our perfume laboratory during a normal working day. (Lab Days are available to Level 1 “Graduates”).

There are no set days for Lab Days. To book, simply call the Perfumery and arrange a mutually convenient date. Lab Days are not available at the weekend.

The Fine Print

Location: All courses are held at the perfumery: The Cotswold Perfumery, Victoria Street, Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire GL54 2BU.

Availability: Courses are held at various times throughout the year. Check dates, times and availability.

Duration: Level 1 is a one day course. Level 2 is two days. Arriving at 9am and departing at approx. 4.45pm

Restrictions:  Minimum age 14. No wheelchair access. May not be suitable for certain allergy sufferers. If in doubt, please consult your GP before booking. 

Qualifications:   None required, but Level 2 participants must have completed the Level 1 course.

Group size:  Traditionally, 9 participants for Level 1 and 6 for Level 2. Private courses are also available - please drop us line with the details of your group size and preferred date.

Validity:   A voucher for a one-day course must be used within 12 months of purchase if purchased by credit/debit card (due to rules imposed upon us by our service providers). Up to that date, the voucher is fully transferable and fully refundable to the purchaser. For expiry dates of up to two years ahead, please contact us for alternative ways to pay.

Booking: The purchase of a course online or via mail order will generate a Voucher Number that can then be used to book a date either online or by telephoning us.

Included in the course: 

  • Course
  • Coffee breaks
  • Lunch
  • 25ml bottle of your own fragrance
  • 100ml bottle of any Cologne from the ladies standard range (excluding Pallas) or 100ml After Shave.
  • A Certificate of completion of the course.