Courses Overview >> Taught Postgraduate Programmes >> Ecological Design Thinking - MA, PGDip, PGCert

Ecological Design Thinking - MA, PGDip, PGCert

Key Info

  • £8,000 UK and EU, £15,000 International full time
  • £4,500 UK and EU, £8,000 International part time
  • Low-Residency Programme

This course offers a chance to join a growing network of design thinkers around the world working within a series of hubs operating within communities and enterprises. Ecological Design Thinking is about using an approach to unravel complex situations involving multiple stakeholders. Students will learn how to apply a variety of skills and techniques to arrive at a creative solution.

The low-residency programme enables students to develop their practice while continuing to work, allowing them to immediately implement their learning. It is delivered in five modules: Design and Ecology, Design and Society, Design and Place and Design in Practice​ and the Dissertation or Final Project.

Due to staff and faculty working from home, we ask that you email your applications and not post. This will help ensure we receive your application in a timely manner.


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Ecological Design Thinking - MA, PGDip, PGCert

We believe in a future where the things that we design no longer need to be detrimental to the wellbeing of our planet.

We believe in a future that pioneers ecological possibilities that redress social, environmental and economic imbalance.

We believe in a future that encourages creativity to explore integrated solutions that are beneficial to all-of-life.

This programme offers a dynamic new way of engaging with the challenging situations we face socially, economically and environmentally. 

We show you how to use ecological design thinking to unravel complex situations in the work-place, in your community or within organisations. You will learn the practical skills and knowledge to show you how to achieve co-created solutions, which engage everyone and foster resilience in individuals and communities.

Ecological Design Thinking is a growing discipline around the world as its techniques are increasingly adopted in the fields of design, education and business as well as within leadership, management and consultancy. 

The Ecological Design Thinking programme is transdisciplinary, insightful and universal in its application. The low-residency model allows for online study with four periods of two-week residency enabling professionals to continue their practice while studying.

It brings together theoretical and practical discourses on ecologically inspired design, with the latest developments in anthropology, psychology and socio-political economics. It aims to provide a tool-kit for change makers at the forefront of our transition to sustainable societies.

Graduates leave to work in:

Design and Architecture: building and development with regard to all systems of life
Town Planning: how to create an effective multi-functional community space
NGOs: especially those tackling climate emergency
Permaculture: agroforestry, land management and community
Business: making systems more ecologically sustainable
Education: teaching in multi-disciplinary disciplines

This programme can be taken full-time or part-time


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Download the application and email to
Due to home offices, we ask that you email your applications and not post. This will help ensure we receive your application in a timely manner.




Closing dates for applications

First round application deadline: 1 June, 2020

We are in the process of making changes to our Ecological Design Thinking and Regenerative Economics programmes and they are ‘Subject to validation’, meaning that the details of the course are in the process of being approved by the University Of Plymouth. 

Additional Documentation in Support of your Application

After you have submitted your application, please send all necessary supporting information listed below as soon as possible to allow us to process your application.

Documents should be sent by post to: 
Postgraduate Admissions
Schumacher College
The Old Postern

Please provide the following supporting documentation after your application

1) Certificate(s) or transcript(s) of first degree or equivalent qualifications: these can be Original or certified copies:

Photocopies MUST be certified by a public notary or solicitor (with contact details provided for them).

Any documents that are not in English MUST be accompanied by a full translation then certified by a public notary or solicitor. All translations must be accompanied by the certificate or transcript in the original language.

Important notes for Tier 4 students

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will only accept original copies of your documents during the visa application process. We are happy to accept originals, but it is safer to post certified photocopies which meet the above guidelines. Please bring the originals with you to enrolment if offered a place.

UKVI also require a full translation of any documents that are not in English.

Schumacher College is licensed under Dartington Hall Trust as a Tier 4 Sponsor. To comply with our sponsorship duties, we are required to check other aspects of your application in addition to your academic achievements. We will look at previous studies in the UK and other aspects outlined in UKVI guidance for sponsors. Information you provide on your application form will be passed on to the UKVI once you have been offered a place and Schumacher College agrees to sponsor you. 

2) A recent passport-size photograph

3) A copy of the front cover and information page of your current passport (inform us immediately if you get a new passport before you come to the UK to study).

4) A copy of any previous or current UK visa.

5) Two references:

One academic/employer reference to comment on your academic ability and suitability to undertake postgraduate study. We will accept an employer’s reference where you have not been recently engaged in academic study.

One personal reference to comment on your ability to contribute to shared research and/or your experience of living or working in a community setting.

Please submit your references by email attachment. The letter should be written on headed paper and sent directly to the College by your referee, from their work email address. The e-mail should be sent to with Subject line: ‘Reference for [applicant's name]’

6) If English is not your first language                                                                               

you must take the IELTS test - International Tier 4 applicants - you must take the UKVI IELTS test.

EU applicants - you must take the IELTS Academic test                                                                                          

Please post an original or clear copy of your IELTS certificate, or send a scanned copy to  All copies are verified online using the IELTS verification service.                      

Translations of documents which are not in English

 The original translation must contain:

  • confirmation from the translator/translation company that it is an accurate translation of the original document
  • the date of the translation
  • the translator/an authorised official of the translation company’s full name and signature, and
  • the translator/translation company’s contact details.

Documentary requirements for Tier 4 applicants can be found here: Please read the Guidance and Appendix at the bottom of the page.  

Last updated: 21/11/2019


Programme Structure

Full time or part time

MA Ecological Design Thinking is a low-residency programme with 4 x credit modules and 1 x 60 Dissertation or Final Project module

This MA programme consist of 5 modules (4 taught and 1 dissertation module).  The first 2 weeks of each taught module are timetabled teaching periods, where you must live on site (or nearby) and participate in the learning community.  So there are 4 two-week periods, spread across 7 months.  The remaining 4 months are the dissertation research and writing period. You may choose to return home for the duration of the dissertation, and will no longer be sponsored by us for your Tier 4 visa.

Outside of the two-week periods, international students (only) may request accommodation and full board onsite at Dartington for terms 1 and 2: this would require you to participate in the learning community activities. Alternatively you can opt to live nearby or anywhere in the UK and travel to and from Dartington when required.

We have a limited number of residential places available for international students. Apply as early as possible and select the accommodation option on the application form.

Part-time students would gain their 180 M credits as follows:

Part-time pathway 1 (24 months): Students complete the core theoretical modules in Academic Year 1, and the core studio modules and dissertation in Academic Year 2 for the full masters, or the core theoretical modules in Academic Year 1, and the core studio modules in Academic Year 2 for the PG Diploma.


Module One: Design and Ecology (30 credits)

This module will explore the behaviour of ecosystems, critical ecological thresholds and resilience. Students will critique, explore and begin to propose solutions from ecology, nature, human behaviours and systems. They will develop personal and group enquiry practices drawing on observation and phenomenology and reflective enquiry, learning journals and other research methods to raise awareness of the interdependent relationship between the individual, society and nature.

Module Two: Design and Society (30 credits)

Examine "Design" as an approach that works with ecological and human systems, exploring the evolution of dominant economic, political and socio-cultural systems and emerging alternatives from around the world. Participants will develop and enhance communication and facilitation skills and explore co-production as a full lifecycle approach. Students will begin to develop their own theories, methodologies and ecological ways of practice.

Module Three: Design and Place (30 credits)

This module explores the principles, processes and practices of ecological design thinking in the context of a given place. Pursue group investigations that include the study of precedents and the identification of issues to develop project briefs and designs in response to particular contexts that increase the resilience of social and ecological systems.

Module Four: Design in Practice (30 credits)

Apply the understanding and practices that you will have developed in modules: “Design and Ecology”, “Design and Society” and “Design and Place” to a particular design context. You will develop briefs and undertake precedent analysis in developing your projects. Critically examine the ecological, social, economic and cultural context of the given project and systematically test design solutions through a range of communication methods that address the identified issues.

Dissertation or Final Project (60 credits)

Undertake a substantial investigation that addresses significant areas of Ecological Design Thinking and practice.

Assessments will be made of students’ ability to apply knowledge gained over the course of the taught elements of the Masters in innovative and practical ways in a dynamic live, or exploratory, context. Students may work in small groups on a design project, or independently. They may also produce an academic dissertation relating to the evolution of Ecological Design Thinking. Students will be provided with a list of potential titles and projects, or are free to develop their own in consultation with the Primary Dissertation Supervisor.

Examples of indicative dissertation topics and final projects have included:

  • From Climate Science to Climate Policy: A strategy to communicate the consequences of climate change to policy-makers
  • DIY economy: A dynamic approach to transforming the economy
  • Communities of Transition: A proposal for reinvigorating community participation beyond transition towns
  • Designing for place: a holistic approach to urban design
  • Making Ecological Design Thinking the meta-objective for design;
  • Designing for organisational intelligence in community enterprise
  • Designing for behaviour change: using values and frames to transform society for good.

Term Dates – Academic Year 2020 - 2021

  Term Dates Notable Dates
Autumn Term

14 September 2020 – 11 December 2020

7 October - Final Project/Dissertation Deadline for MA Engaged Ecologies
Winter Term 11 January – 1 April 2021  
Spring Term 19 April – 18 June  
Summer Term 21 June – 10 September 13 August – Deadline for Final Project/Dissertation for 
MA Ecological Design Thinking, MSc Holistic Science  MA Regenerative Economics

Contact us for details of part-time programme patterns and deadlines.

Last updated: 29/01/2020

Professor Roberto Fraquelli, Programme Coordinator, MA Ecological Design Thinking
Roberto is our Ecological Design Thinking Programme Coordinator at Schumacher College. He is interested in Holistic Design and the dilemma many designers face between the pressures of economic growth and an empathy with all living systems. His current research focuses on four interrelated themes: ecological design thinking, deep empathic design, systems design thinking and contemplative inquiry. With over 20 years of professional practice, mostly working with IDEO global design company, Roberto has designed products, environments and experiences for clients across Europe, America, India and the Far East. He holds a number of international design awards and patents - and his work has been featured in Domus, Business Week, Design Week, The Observer, and NewDesign magazine. Roberto studied Industrial Design at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London.

Dr Mona Nasseri, Senior Lecturer, MA Ecological Design Thinking
Mona has a Doctorate and Master’s degree in Design from the University of Dundee and BA in Crafts from the Tehran Art University. She specialises in the area of co-design and since joining Schumacher College in 2014 she has helped develop and facilitate the College’s Ecological Design Thinking programme. She has taught and collaborated on a range of interdisciplinary research projects ranging from examining the integration of technology and craft to design strategies to reduce crime with Tayside Police in Scotland.

Mona’s PhD research was on the subject of embodied knowledge where she integrated her craft background with design and psychology. Her doctorate thesis is an exploration of the role of unmediated relationship with the environment in the evolution of human consciousness. Mona is particularly interested in the design-led approach to community empowerment. Her latest research in Tanzania, involves co-designing strategies with the Maasai communities to improve their social resilience in response to the impacts of climate change on their regions.

Ruth Potts, Senior Lecturer, MA Ecological Design Thinking
Ruth is a Senior Lecturer in Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher College, co-editor of Red Pepper Magazine, a co-founder of bread, print & roses a collective engaged in anarchist baking, seditious pamphleteering and radical walks, a co-founder of Change in Practice and an artist and activist with a focus on climate change, social justice and migration. She was initiator of (with Gareth Evans) and Artistic Advisor to, Utopia 2016 at Somerset House; a year of events, activity and exhibitions exploring the importance of utopia in the twenty-first century at Somerset House, the Courtauld Gallery and King’s College London, and including collaborations with the British Library, LSE Literary Festival and Verso books.

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