Postgraduate study

Outdoor Environmental & Sustainability Education

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

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

Funding available

Placements/internships

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.

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:

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:

  • Dissertation (60 credits)

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.

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:

  • Canoeing on the River Spey
  • A four-week professional placement/practicum
  • A two-day specialist outdoor first aid course
  • A three-day land-based navigation course
  • An ‘Environmental Education in Practice’ course

Optional courses may include rock-climbing, river kayaking, bushcraft, 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.

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 Environmental and Sustainability Education6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2018/19
MScOutdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education15 MonthsFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
MScOutdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education30 MonthsPart-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
PgDip (ICL)Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2018/19
PgCert (ICL)Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2018/19
PgDipOutdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
PgDipOutdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2018/19

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.

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. You will also develop highly transferable skills, such as communication and project management, which can be applied in any field.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent.

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

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module and 6.5 in writing)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each section and 23 in writing)

  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections and 61 in writing)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module and 176 in writing)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English and Trinity ISE must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

If you register to study on a part-time basis 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. Part-time students are required to pay any additional fees associated with the Professional Development Programme in the year of study wherein the fees were incurred. (The Professional Development Programme is not part of the Postgraduate Certificate.)

Find out more about tuition fees and studying costs:

  • Moray House School of Education
  • 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. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit a reference with your application.

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

Further information

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