Courses Overview >> Taught Postgraduate Programmes >> MA Economics For Transition >> Economics for Transition Programme Structure

Economics for Transition Programme Structure

MA Full and Part Time

Programme Type
and Length

Full Time 100 taught credits and 80 credit dissertation
Part Time: Over 2 years

Year 1: 60 taught core credits
Year 2: 40 taught optional credits and dissertation

Part Time: Over 3 years

Year 1: 60 core taught credits
Year 2: 40 optional credits
Year 3: dissertation

PG Certificate: Full Time 60 taught credits


PG Certificate

Students studying this PG Certificate programme will take the three core modules, each worth 20 Masters Credits. Students enrolled on to the PG Certificate will study exactly the same material as the Masters students  during the first term, from September to December. Masters and PG Certificate students will live and study together, so there is no separation between the programmes.

There is no part-time option for the PG Certificate.

Core Modules

Module One: The Ecological Paradigm (20 credits)

This module explores how our understanding of sustainability is evolving – from the Bruntland Report to the triple bottom line to the recent focus on ecological resilience and the life sustaining economy.

Learning from ecological thinking and practice lies at the heart of the Schumacher College educational model. Failure to understand the world in an ecological and holistic way underlies many of the grave challenges that we now face as we strive for endless economic growth within a finite planetary system and seek to trade off one system against another. Endless material growth and trade off can never be sustained when we understand the nature of dynamic feedback systems.

This module draws from scientific ecology, Gaia theory and chaos and complexity theory to introduce important concepts which can be meaningfully applied to socio-economic systems including feedback, critical path dependency, emergence; self organisation, learning and adaptation and resilience. Students will work with case studies to apply these concepts across a range of socio-economic related topics from business strategy and environmental policy making to ecological design and closed loop economies.

During this module, students will develop personal and group inquiry practices to raise awareness of the interdependent relationship between the individual, society and nature and between theory, experience and practice.

Assessment: This module is 100% assessed through course work.

Module Two: The Emergence of the New Economy (20 credits)

‘The real science of political economy… is that which teaches nations to desire and labour for the things that lead to life and teaches them to scorn and destroy the things that lead to destruction’ John Ruskin (1860)

The emergence of an alternative economy that is realigned with its ecological and social context and shifts the primary goal from economic growth to sustaining and enhancing ecological and social health and wellbeing, has deep roots that go as far back as Ruskin (1860) and Schumacher (1973). More recently it can be seen in the work of the new economics foundation and a whole body of theorists and practitioners.

This module develops the theoretical principles of a new approach to economics to accelerate the transition to low carbon, high well-being, resilient economies. Students explore how contemporary economic, social, ecological and spiritual crises are systemically and dynamically linked to the driving forces in the global economy. The dominance of industrial growth economy with its theoretical underpinnings in neoclassical economics are powerfully critiqued from alternative schools of economic thought – drawn from ecological, environmental, institutional, Buddhist and eco-socialist perspectives to derive pluralistic principles for a new approach to economics.

Assessment: This module is 100% assessed through course work.

Module Three: The New Economy in Practice (20 credits)

How are we going to make the transition to low carbon, high well-being, resilient economies and what does it mean in practice for different aspects of the economy?

There are already tens of thousands of exciting and successful initiatives around the globe that collectively are the emergence of the new economy in practice. This module will apply principles of the new economy to demonstrate what works in practice, using a range of tools and methods, policy interventions and experiential approaches to catalyse change. The module is structured around a number of key issues:

  • Greening macroeconomic policy: how can the structure of the economy be a catalyst for sustainability?
  • Re-balancing global trade and the role of international environmental governance: What is the role of trade in a sustainable global economy?
  • The role of business in the transition to a more sustainable economy.
  • Innovations at the community level in areas such as finance, money systems, enterprise development, cooperatives, social enterprise, and strategies for scaling-up.
  • Strategies for effective framing and communication of the new economics.
  • Students co-create future scenarios and pathways towards the transition to low carbon, high wellbeing, and resilient economies. An action inquiry method enables learning to relate to personal and group practice.

Assessment: This module is 100% assessed through course work.

Elective Courses (20 credits each)

Students select two options, usually from a choice of three from the Schumacher College short course programme. This provides an excellent opportunity for students to engage with other professionals and activists from outside the Masters programme.

Dissertation (80 credits)

The dissertation provides students with the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their capacity for independent study in the application of research skills to a topic relevant to the Economics for Transition. The dissertation can involve the use of alternative creative formats such as personal narrative, film and artwork and experiential material alongside those normally used in economic research.

Students will be introduced to a range of research methodologies in the social sciences. Sample dissertation topics could include:

Examples of indicative dissertation topics are given below:

  • Developing quantitative and/or qualitative indicators of economic resilience
  • Applying concepts from complexity theory to business leadership
  • Making a documentary about the health of global financial markets based on a systems thinking model
  • Developing an interactive learning process around the theme of climate change negotiations
  • An action research inquiry into setting up a local transition initiative.

Students will have the opportunity to apply these research methods to the research topic of their choice. Partner organisations and other agencies are invited to make suggestions about ongoing research projects that they are undertaking that students could engage in for the dissertation work, thus providing students with the opportunity to develop links with potential longer-term employers.