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Outdoor Education (MSc/PgDip/PgCert)


Course Description

Programme description

For over 40 years, the Postgraduate Diploma in Outdoor Education, and for almost 20 years, the MSc in Outdoor Education, have been the world’s foremost graduate programme in the field, providing a broad base for a professional career in outdoor 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 outdoor education. 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, winter hillwalking, a teaching placement/practicum, and an expedition), which provides a broad base for a professional career in outdoor 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 develop your intellectual skills through critically assessing theoretical, professional, and academic issues surrounding outdoor education, while honing transferable skills such as environmental literacy and oral communication. You will also expand your understanding and personal practice of outdoor education 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.

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:

Personal and Social Development and Outdoor Education (20 credits)
Outdoor Environmental Education: Concept-based Practice (20 credits)
Experiential Education (10 credits)
Sources of Knowledge (10 credits)

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

Ecology and Field Studies (20 credits)
Interpreting the Landscape (20 credits)
Social Theory and Outdoor Education (20 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 also complete five field courses (sea kayaking, hillwalking (winter), hill walking (autumn), rock climbing, open canoeing, sea kayaking; approximately 24 days total), a four-week professional placement/practicum, a two-day specialist first aid course, and a 14-16 day expedition.

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.

Career opportunities

Our graduates have been employed throughout the world in all aspects of the sector, such as residential outdoor education centres, organisations working with marginalised young people, management development, wilderness expeditions, environmental education programmes, and school, college, and university outdoor education programmes.

While the programme does not offer a formal teaching qualification, recent graduates have been successful in gaining accreditation by the General Teaching Council of Scotland to teach Outdoor Education in schools. In addition, you will develop highly transferable skills, such as communication and project management, which can be applied in any field.

Completion of the MSc degree also enables you to continue onto advanced research, and a possible academic career.

Work placement/internships opportunities

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.

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

Entry Requirements

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, is required, as well as outdoor education experience. Alternatively, you may be considered on the basis of employment or relevant experience.

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