Moray House School of Education and Sport

Programme structure: Outdoor education

There are three possible exit levels: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, or Master’s. The emphasis – at every level – is on developing the knowledge, understanding, and judgement necessary to facilitate meaningful learning in, for, and through the outdoors.

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 and a placement) which provides a broad base for a professional career in outdoor education. The Master’s extends this further still with a dissertation or applied project. 

Programme structure

Courses take place at our Edinburgh campus and multiple bases in the Highlands and on the West Coast of Scotland from where you will journey by boat or on foot to live and learn in the outdoors. Learning will take the form of lectures, seminars, group discussions, student presentations, field courses, residential courses, self-study, and work experience/practicum.

The Master’s 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.

Postgraduate Certificate

For the Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits), you will complete the following courses:

Postgraduate Diploma

For the Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits), in addition to the above courses, you will complete:

Each 20-credit course entails submitting a 4000-word assignment or equivalent thereof. 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.

N.B. If taking the programme on an intermittent basis, courses offered by other Schools may have different fees. 

Course descriptions (2024-25)

Masters (MSc)

For the Masters (180 credits), in addition to the above courses, you will complete:

The dissertation/applied project is a major investigation that demands a high level of individual application and commitment to research and enquiry. Both pathways offer opportunities to identify and examine a topic which greatly interests you and can play a considerable role in your professional development. The dissertation and applied project involve a critical interrogation of the relationship between professional practice and academic theory, and the design, ethics and interpretation of research. The dissertation will be 12,000 words. 

Professional Development Programme

An integral part of the Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s programmes, the Professional Development Programme (PDP) brings together the theory and practice of outdoor and environmental education in residential, journeying and workplace situations. It offers unique opportunities to live and learn in Scotland’s spectacular land- and seascapes.

Tailored to the experience level and ability you arrive with, you will:

  • Develop your technical skills
  • Increase your knowledge of local ecology and culture
  • Hone your interpersonal competencies
  • Help create experiences which will enhance your integration of theory and practice.

You will complete several field courses, some of which are core and others optional. Due to the holistic nature of the PDP core courses which goes beyond technical skills acquisition, we expect that all students will fully participate, irrespective of personal experience and qualifications. 

Core courses may include:

  • Canoeing
  • Summer hill-walking
  • Winter hill-walking
  • Sea kayaking
  • Two-day specialist outdoor first aid course
  • Rock climbing
  • Firbush Residential
  • Four-week (20-day) placement

These courses are dependent on staff availability and student numbers each year.

Additional costs are associated with the optional elements of the Professional Development Programme. Students on the Postgraduate Certificate may also take some of the skills courses at additional cost. Please contact the Programme Director for more information on these.

Further details on programme structure