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Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education (MSc/PgDip/PgCert)

Course content

Unique in Europe, and one of only a few in the world, this internationally respected MSc programme offers you the chance to develop a holistic approach to outdoor education with a specific emphasis on environmental and sustainability education. This programme will prepare you for a career in which you will facilitate learning that focuses on themes of environmental, sustainability, and ecological education.

There are three possible exit levels: Certificate (60 credits), Diploma (120 credits), or Masters (180 credits). The Certificate programme provides a broad theoretical coverage of the field of study. The Diploma extends this with further academic study and a Professional Development Programme (involving field courses, such as a canoe descent of the River Spey, introduction to group leadership and navigation techniques, a teaching placement/practicum, and a group project), which provides a broad base for a professional career in outdoor environmental and sustainability education. The Masters extends this further still with a dissertation and associated research methods course.

The emphasis — whether Certificate, Diploma, or Masters — is on developing the knowledge, understanding, and judgement necessary to facilitate meaningful learning in, for, and through the outdoors. You will consider a range of connected subject areas as well as the particular demands for teaching these in a variety of settings, from schools, residential centres, and Ranger sites, to charitable/not-for-profit organisations.

You will develop your intellectual skills through critically assessing theoretical, professional, and academic issues while honing transferable skills such as environmental literacy and oral communication. You will also expand your understanding and personal practice of educating outdoors through a range of professional development activities.

Courses take place at our Edinburgh campus and the University’s two residential outdoor centres in the highlands of Scotland, from where you will journey by boat or on foot to live and learn in the outdoors.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Environment & Society Academy.

Programme structure

Learning will take the form of lectures, seminars, group discussions, student presentations, field courses, self-study, and work experience/practicum.

For the Postgraduate Certificate you will complete the following courses:

  • Outdoor Environmental Education: Concept-based Practice (20 credits)
  • Interpreting the Landscape (20 credits)
  • Ecology and Field Studies (20 credits)

For the Postgraduate Diploma, in addition to the above courses, you will complete:

  • Education for Environmental Citizenship
  • Introduction to Learning for Sustainability
  • Experiential Education (10 credits)
  • Sources of Knowledge (10 credits)

For the Masters, in addition to the above courses, you will complete:

  • Research Methods – Planning Research (10 credits)
  • Dissertation (50 credits)

For the Masters and Diploma you will complete a four-week professional placement/practicum, a five-day canoe descent of the River Spey, a three-day land-based group leadership and navigation course, a two-day specialist outdoor first aid course, and a weeklong ‘Environmental Education in Practice’ practicum project. While not strictly compulsory, the CPDP is vitally integral to the programme. Further optional courses are also available.

The Masters and Diploma programmes can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis. The Certificate is by nature a part-time programme of study.

Work placements/internships

To facilitate and broaden direct experience of teaching outdoors, course members undertake a 4-week professional placement. The placement occurs at a stage in the programme when students are able to make a useful contribution to the agencies they choose to work with and are able to relate their experience to theoretical material covered in class. Placement agencies range from those focusing on environmental education, to inner city projects, special needs organisations, management training, outdoor education centres, and many more.

Career opportunities

This industry-recognised qualification will allow you to take on roles in outdoor environmental and sustainability education in a variety of settings from schools, to community education, private organisations, or charitable/not-for-profit organisations.

Completion of the MSc degree will enable you to continue onto advanced research, and a possible academic career. However, you will also develop highly transferable skills, such as communication and project management, which can be applied in any field.

Visit the Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education (MSc/PgDip/PgCert) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!




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