Postgraduate study

Outdoor Education MSc, PgDip (ICL), PgCert (ICL), PgDip

Awards: MSc, PgDip (ICL), PgCert (ICL), PgDip

Study modes: Part-time Intermittent Study, Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Placements/internships

Programme website: Outdoor Education

Edinburgh is such a progressive and forward-thinking city in everything to do with the outdoors. Scotland is also a really good place to study outdoor education given the landscapes it has to offer! The programme was the main draw though really and the idea of learning from some of the best lecturers in the field.

Catherine Dunn MSc Outdoor Education 2020
Catherine Dunn               MSc Outdoor Education 2020

World-leading

In 2022, we celebrated our 50th year of the Postgraduate Diploma in Outdoor Education and over 20 years as the MSc in Outdoor Education. The programme continues to be the world's leading postgraduate programme in the field, providing a broad base for a professional career in outdoor education.

Exit routes

There are three possible exit levels:

  • Certificate (60 credits)
  • Diploma (120 credits)
  • 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 which provides a broad base for a professional career in outdoor education. This involves field courses such as:

  • canoeing
  • summer and winter hillwalking
  • sea kayaking
  • a placement

The Masters extends this further still with a dissertation.

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. You will hone 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 multiple bases in the Highlands 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
  • self-study
  • work experience/practicum

For the Postgraduate Certificate you will complete the following courses:

  • Interpreting the Landscape
  • Outdoor Environmental Education: Concept-based Practice
  • Personal and Social Development and Outdoor Education

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

  • Social Theory and Outdoor Education
  • Experiential Education
  • Outdoor Environmental Education Praxis
  • Ecology and Field Studies
  • Professional Development Programme

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

  • Dissertation or Applied Project

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. If you register to study on a 'part-time intermittent study' basis (routes signified by 'ICL') you will pay the academic tuition fees on a course-by-course basis, rather than paying for the entire programme at the outset.

Professional Development Programme

For the Masters and Diploma, as part of your Professional Development Programme (PDP), you will complete several field courses, some of which are compulsory and others optional. Compulsory courses may include:

  • Land-based competency
  • Canoeing
  • Summer hill-walking
  • Winter hill-walking
  • Sea kayaking
  • Four-week (20 day) professional placement
  • Two-day specialist outdoor first aid course
  • 'Outdoor Environmental Education in Practice' course

Optional courses may include:

  • rock-climbing
  • river kayaking
  • bushcraft/nature connection
  • wilderness first aid

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

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScOutdoor EducationUp to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2022/23
MScOutdoor Education15 MonthsFull-timeProgramme structure 2022/23
MScOutdoor Education30 MonthsPart-timeProgramme structure 2022/23
PgDip (ICL)Outdoor EducationUp to 4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2022/23
PgCert (ICL)Outdoor EducationUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2022/23
PgDipOutdoor Education1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2022/23
PgDipOutdoor Education2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2022/23

To facilitate and broaden direct experience of teaching outdoors, course members undertake a 4-week (20 day) 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.

Graduates are employed worldwide in all aspects of the Outdoor Education sector, such as in:

  • residential outdoor education centres
  • wilderness expeditions
  • school, college, and university outdoor education programmes

Many of our graduates return to their previous profession, but move into a different aspect of that field as a result of their increased knowledge, experience and qualification.

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

Examples of recent graduate roles include:

  • conservation work (public and charitable organisations, UK and international)
  • education/environmental policy development
  • environmental education programmes
  • management development
  • National Outdoor Leadership School
  • non-profit organisations (environmental and/or personal & social development focused)
  • organisations working with marginalised young people
  • Outward Bound
  • self-employed in guiding/interpretation/education
  • summer camp organisations
  • therapeutic work with young people and adults

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.

Courses take place at our Edinburgh campus and multiple bases in the Highlands of Scotland from where you will journey by boat or on foot to live and learn in the outdoors.

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, as well as outdoor education experience.

We may also consider your application if you have relevant employment or experience; please contact us to check before you apply.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in writing, and 6.0 in all other components.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in writing, and 20 in all other components. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in writing, and 169 in all other components.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in writing, and 59 in all other components.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Part-time fees

If you register to study on a 'part-time intermittent' basis (routes signified by 'ICL'), you will pay the academic tuition fees on a course-by-course basis, rather than paying for the entire programme at the outset.

As fees change each year, the total cost will depend on the length of time you take to complete your programme.

All part-time students (30 month & ICL) are required to pay additional fees associated with the Professional Development Programme in two payments:

  • Half in Year 1
  • Second half in Year 2 of your studies

The Professional Development Programme is not part of the Postgraduate Certificate.

Full-time students Professional Development Programme fees are included in their over all programme fee.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScOutdoor EducationUp to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
MScOutdoor Education15 MonthsFull-timeTuition fees
MScOutdoor Education30 MonthsPart-timeTuition fees
PgDip (ICL)Outdoor EducationUp to 4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgCert (ICL)Outdoor EducationUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgDipOutdoor Education1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
PgDipOutdoor Education2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Moray House School of Education and Sport
  • Old Moray House
  • Holyrood Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 8AQ

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application.

If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Moray House School of Education and Sport
  • Old Moray House
  • Holyrood Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 8AQ