Outdoor Education and Learning BA (Hons)

UCAS code NX89

What is special about this course?

This honours degree, which focusses wholly on using the outdoors in education and learning, combines theory and practice to support you in becoming a truly rounded outdoor educator.

You will explore how outdoor activities and learning opportunities can nurture and support participants to develop and grow. You will also gain an understanding of education systems and how to design and instruct accredited outdoor experiences.

These experiences could be early years outdoor learning sessions, school outdoor learning activities through to expeditions or residential ventures, all of which you will gain practical experience of within the degree.

On successful completion, you will have an excellent knowledge of leading, coaching and educating. Most importantly, you will hold a degree that is strongly linked and recognised by industry, which has significant practical elements supporting you to become a professional educator who specialises in the use of the outdoors.

Both Perth College UHI and Inverness College UHI campuses have partnership links within the sector to support our students. These connections range from delivering content to our students, guest lecturing, relevant and valuable work placement, and supporting course content.

Partners include The Willowgate Activity Centre, Glenmore Lodge, Scottish Canoe Association, G2, The Outward Bound Trust, Institute of Outdoor Learning, Creative STAR Learning, Royal Scottish Geographical Society and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Special features

  • Opportunities for practical experiences and placement opportunities
  • Options to study a range of subjects including: the outdoor classroom, outdoor learning with a Scottish context, bushcraft, residential outdoor education, mountains and morphology and many more
  • Strong links with and benefit from the recognition of the degree from industry
  • Support to complete outdoor National Governing Body Awards (NGBs)
  • Study in an area with abundant natural resources providing one of the best outdoor classroom environments 


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

  • 3 Scottish Highers at grade C or above OR
  • 2 A levels at grade C or above
  • You will also be expected to be able to demonstrate an interest in, and a commitment to practical outdoor education/activities, and preferably have an interest in a professional career in the outdoor sector.
  • Personal practical outdoor experience is advantageous but not essential.
  • Applicants with other relevant qualifications and/or experience will be considered on an individual basis.
  • Successful applicants will be required to complete a PVG Disclosure Check and become PVG Scheme Members in order to undertake this course.


For International students requiring Tier 4 sponsorship
Please note that international students with a Tier 4 visa can only take part in sports activities or as part of a work placement, as an amateur and not as a professional or semi-professional. You will not be allowed to become a member of a professional sports association while a student. This is due to ‘professional sportsperson’ restrictions imposed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as outlined in their Tier 4 Policy Guidance.

Year 1 - CertHE

Core modules are:

  • Personal water based skills 1
  • Personal mountain based skills 1
  • Safe practice in the outdoors
  • Professional outdoor practice

Option modules may include:

  • Personal water based skills 2
  • Personal mountain based skills 2

Year 2 - DipHE

Core modules are:

  • Psychology and coaching in the outdoors
  • Introduction to research methods for sport
  • The outdoor classroom
  • Facilitation and reviewing in outdoor education

Option modules may include:

  • Nature and outdoor learning
  • Residential outdoor education

Year 3 - BA

Core modules are:

  • Leadership and personal development in outdoor education
  • Research methods (sport)
  • Outdoor learning with a Scottish context
  • Work placement: industry-specific skills

Option modules may include:

  • Geomorphology, a practical application
  • Explorers and exploration

Year 4 - BA (Hons)

Core modules are:

  • Outdoor design and safety management
  • Current outdoor practice
  • You will also complete a dissertation

Option modules may include:

  • Outdoor education for all
  • Experiential education
  • Work placement: professional practice

How will I study my course?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Our priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students and staff. We will continue to review government guidance as lockdown measures shift over the next few months and will inform you of any further changes to the information provided below about your course. You will study the course through our blended learning approach. In semester one, September 2020, the theory elements will mainly be delivered mainly online through a combination of video conference seminars, tutor-supported study and self-directed study using the university's virtual learning environment. You will also have the opportunity to do an online induction at the start of the course. On-site activities, practical sessions and placements will be introduced in line with the developing Scottish Government public health measures and guidance, including social distancing.
  • Full-time
  • Part-time (Structured)
  • You will learn through a combination of practical sessions, group working, face-to-face and video conference lectures in the classroom and online study via the university's virtual learning environment (VLE).
  • You will also spend a significant amount of time increasing your skills through practical experiential learning. The main outdoor practical disciplines included are mountain skills and climbing, skiing, paddle sports, canyoning and bushcraft with a wide scope for progression and application of theories throughout the four years of study.

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 4 years
  • Part-time: 8 years

Where can I study my course?

  • Inverness College UHI
  • Perth College UHI

Start date

  • September


For students normally domiciled in Scotland or the European Union/EEA (outside of the UK) and with a term time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Full-time (120 credit modules) per year £1,820 £1,820
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year £645 £645
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module) £215 £215

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and with a term time address in Scotland studying this course full time, the following fees apply:

Year 1 CertHE £9,000 £9,000
Year 2 DipHE £9,000 £9,000
Year 3 Degree £9,000 £9,000
Year 4 Honours free free

4th year free only for students studying full-time, on continuous study, who have paid for the previous three years at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Part-time (per 20 credit module) - £1,500.

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK and EU students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living while studying.

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK or European Union and with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Full-time (120 credit modules) per year £11,650 £12,000
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year** £5,820 £6,000
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module)** £1,940 £2,000

Part-time study is not open to international student requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK.

Further information on international course fees.

A no fee increase guarantee is available for self-funding full-time and structured part-time RUK and International undergraduate students for continuous and contiguous study for the same award, up to the permitted standard time limit for the relevant award.


External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact the relevant university partner college for more information.

Additional Costs

  • All essential personal protective equipment (PPE) and specialist equipment can be accessed from our comprehensive stores, but students will need to purchase their own personal clothing, such as waterproofs

What can I do on completion of my course?

Once you have successfully completed the BA (Hons) Outdoor Education and Learning you might like to consider careers such as :

  • Mainstream education
  • Outdoor education
  • Environmental education
  • Outdoor development training
  • Outdoor respite care

There are career opportunites in organisations such as public sector education departments, outdoor charitable trusts, private sector outdoor education establishments, the National Trust, Duke of Edinburgh Award, John Muir Trust and the Forestry Commission.

Is there more information available online?

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What our students, graduates and staff say

I moved from Edinburgh to study here. It has changed my life for the better - I'm a happier and fitter person for it. My advice would be to just go for it and make the leap to improve yourself and your life. The things I enjoy most about studying here are the amazing teaching styles and the enthusiasm of the lecturers, plus the access to the beautiful outdoors right on our doorstep.

Craig Anderson is on the BA (Hons) Outdoor Education and Learning at our Inverness College UHI campus.

Got a question? Send us a message

Got a question? Send us a message

Send us a message
Got a question? Send us a message


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