Courses Overview >> Postgraduate Programmes >> Engaged Ecology - MA, PGDip, PGCert

Engaged Ecology - MA, PGDip, PGCert

Key Info

  • Course dates currently accepting applications: January 2022 - January 2023
  • Engaged Ecology asks three fundamental questions: What is place? Who are we? And, what, then, can we do?

Engaged Ecology is a radical new experiment in embodied learning for students looking to reconsider their relationship with the more-than-human, and find solutions to the environmental and social crises of our time.

The course equips you with the skills to engage practically in the field, while also allowing you the time and space to develop a personal understanding of the interconnected nature of the world and your place in it.

Deadline for applications, January 2022 start: 16 August 2021


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Engaged Ecology asks three fundamental questions: What is place? Who are we? And, what, then, can we do?


If the climate crisis is too enormous a problem for any of us to grasp, we all nonetheless have a relationship to place, the immediate world about us. Through various ecological practices of deep observation and immersive engagement, through making and theoretical reflection, we will question what we mean by place and discover the historical, economic, cultural and ecological entanglements that together create a sense of place. We will discover for ourselves the meaning of terms like ‘ecology’, ‘nature’, ‘anthropocene’, ‘Gaia’, ‘participation’, ‘craft’, and ‘self’.

By developing competence in various practices of making we will explore cultures of production. The exact practices will vary according to availability, but might include weaving linen fabric that’s been grown from seed and prepared at every stage by hand; or felling a tree to hand carve a cup, a spoon, or a bowl; or writing, designing, typesetting and printing a magazine. How do these practices enrich our understanding of, or highlight our dislocation from, place?

Rather than approaching these questions from an epistemological framework of ecophilosophy, Engaged Ecology builds a scaffold through the radical assertion that higher education must first and foremost be a physical engagement with our shared socioecological/material world. It is through first-hand experience of place that we build an immersively tactile ontology that will serve as the foundation for the conceptual framework we develop through the arc of the programme.


Using various practices, so-called ‘technologies of the self’, we will examine what we mean by ‘the self’. Can there ever be an ecological self, or are we ordained by biology, or culture, to be atomistic individuals? What happens if we entertain indigenous or posthuman ideas in which the boundaries of the self are regarded as porous? What role does spirituality play in shaping or shaking up the self? Why is it that as social beings, who come together in community, we exclude even as we include, on the basis of sexuality, gender, race, class, ability, or species even? How can we (can we even?) reconcile living in community with a decentralization of human identity? Can we fully permeate the boundary between ego and eco? By living, learning and working together in community, here at Schumacher, we will ask what we mean by community and consider how it could be done differently in the world.


Finally, we challenge students to address how they can best act in the world. We examine theories of change, movement building, and non-violent direction action and ask if there are different ways of being ‘activists’ that do not replicate the very thing we are trying to change. Must change always involve opposition? Is there such a thing as post-activism? The final project or dissertation gives students the opportunity to dive deeply into these questions and to begin to envisage a career path after graduation.

Throughout this radical programme we give students the space to learn experientially, to reflect on what they’ve done, to consider abstract theory, and to experiment with new possibilities. Students will be able to draw on and immerse themselves in the rich history of growers, makers, craftivists, radical thinkers, social entrepreneurs, pedagogues, adherents of alternative spiritualities, not to mention the land itself, that together comprise the Dartington experiment.

Engaged Ecology is the cutting edge of Environmental Humanities, an interdisciplinary arena that brings together leading progressive thought within science and the humanities to address the great problems of our age.

Engaged Ecology is currently passing through the validation process with our partners, the University of Plymouth. Full details of the programme will be published as soon as they are available.

Explore leading-edge thinking about the nature of being human in a more-than-human world
Grapple with ecological problems through hands-on learning and deep reflection
Develop the tools to become a leader in ecological, economic, and social decision-making conversations
Fortify existing practice with a robust theoretical framework
Be able to apply a deep and critical understanding of place in a broad range of contexts.

Graduates leave to work in:
NGOs: especially those tackling climate emergency
Nonprofits: building relationships between people and place
Permaculture: agroforestry, land management and community
Business: making systems more resilient and regenerative
Education: teaching in multi-disciplinary disciplines

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


Programme information / apply now

IMPORTANT: Please ensure you consult our Applicant Information for full information on tuition fees and other key information about our courses.

You can then return to this page for programme-specific information and to make your course application.

Engaged Ecology - MA, PGDip, PGCert

Click below to apply online for either an April 2021 or January 2022 start (form opens in new window/tab).
Deadline for applications, January 2022 start: 16 August 2021


Click here to download a checklist to help you with your application (pdf).

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. As our staff are mostly working from home at present, please send scanned copies or electronic versions of the below to:


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 students requiring a Student Visa

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 Student Visa 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.

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 Student Visa applicants can be found here. Please read the Guidance and Appendix at the bottom of the page.  

If you take the programme full time, you complete four taught modules, of 30 credits each, over two consecutive terms. This is the residential part of the programme, and it lasts roughly between January and the start of July ('Term dates and Taught dates', below). Your residential period then ends and you leave the College to complete your dissertation/major project. This is handed in in October (see ('Term dates and Taught dates', below). Some students elect to stay in the area to write their dissertations, so as to make use of the libraries, but supervision can just as easily take place online. Students will be able to access the University of Plymouth library at a distance for the duration of their studies.

During the residential period you take two taught modules per term. Each module runs in parallel throughout the length of the term, with classes for one module occurring on Mondays and Tuesdays, and for the other on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Occasionally classes take place in the evening or on a Friday but advance notice will be given. Each taught module is 30 credits. For a 30 credit module you are expected to complete 300 learning hours of which approximately 10%, or 30 hours, comprises face to face teaching.

Students can elect to live on the campus, in Dartington accommodation, or off campus in accommodation they have found. Early booking of Dartington accommodation is recommended and we strongly recommend that you stay on site, as the shared experience of living and working on the Dartington estate is key to your course experience.

Term 1

Engaging with Ecology – 30 credits

This foundational module aims to provoke in students a greater understanding of our dire ecological predicament, its urgency and its historical and philosophical origins. Building on different practices of paying attention to and engaging with the world about us, it introduces critical terms and maps out key developments in ecological thought from various transdisciplinary perspectives.

Making Connections – 30 credits

This module examines making practices as primary ways in which humans engage with the world at large. Students will experiment with a variety of practices, where possible performing every step of production from first principles to finished product, so as to explore, and reflect upon the many ways in which making entangles us with the world. Informed by theory, students will consider aesthetics, craft, materials, place and the role, if any, of the sacred.

Term 2

Living Together – 30 credits

This module examines the social and ecological implications of living together and asks what it means to belong in community. It seeks to understand how communities at once include and exclude, through the often invisible exercise of power. It considers the implications of extending the definition of community to include the more-than-human and investigates the role of structure and ritual in maintaining community.

The Ecological Self – 30 credits

This module considers the significance of the self in creating, maintaining or resolving the ecological crisis. It critiques Western notions of the self and experiments with and evaluates practices that may engender a more ecological self. In the light of theories of change and the post-activist critique, it then asks students to reflect on how they might best go on to act as ecological selves in service of a just world.

Term 3

Dissertation or Final Project - 60 credits

Undertake a substantial investigation that addresses significant areas of Engaged Ecology.
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 or independently. They may also produce an academic dissertation relating to tEngaged Ecology. 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.

Remote learning

All our low-residency degree programmes are available as online only pathways from June 2021 onwards. Following a year of successful online and hybrid delivery, we have now developed an online distance learning model that allows you to attain your postgraduate qualification even if you are unable to physically travel to Dartington. The online pathway joins existing modes of studying with us, such as the residential pathway (two weeks on site per module) and a hybrid pathway that allows you to combine online and on site learning to suite your circumstances. (Please note that international students taking online only pathways do not need to apply for a Student Visa.)


You can elect to take the programme part-time over two years. In the first year you would take module 1, Engaging with Ecology, in term 1 and module 3, Living Together, in term 2. By the end of the first year you will therefore have accrued 60 credits. In the second year you would take Making Connections in term 1 and The Ecological Self in term 2 (a further 60 credits), then complete the dissertation/major project (which brings you to the total of 180 credits). Each module will require you to be in College for no more than two days per week, and where possible we try to timetable these days to be consecutive so as to allow you to do other work. Please bear in mind however that you would still have to make time for independent study outside those College days (a good estimate is that a 30 credit module requires 300 hours of learning time, of which 30 are face to face).

Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) and Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip)

If you enrol for the PGCert you would come here for just one term and take modules 1 and 2, Engaging with Ecology and Making Connections. The PGCert accrues you 60 credits.

If you enrol for the PGDip you would come here for two terms, taking modules 1 and 2, Engaging with Ecology and Making Connections, in term 1, and modules 3 and 4, Living Together and the Ecological Self, in term 2. The PGDip accrues you 120 credits.

If you enrol for the MA you can chose to exit the programme at the end of term 1 with a PGCert, or term 2 with a PGDip. However, if you enrol for the PGCert or the PGDip you cannot automatically upgrade to the MA. You would have to graduate, reapply the subsequent year and continue the remainder of the programme then.

Taught Dates – Academic Year 2021 - 2022

3 January - 8 July 2022: Teaching Weeks at Schumacher College
Term 1: Jan 10th - April 8th
Term 2: Apr 25th - July 1st

24 October 2022: Final Project/Dissertation Deadline

Dr Andy Letcher

Dr Andy Letcher is writer, performer and scholar of religion who began life as an ecologist, completing his D.Phil in Ecology at Oxford University. After a spell as an environmental activist during the 90s, especially during the anti-roads protests, he moved across to the humanities, completing a PhD at King Alfred’s College Winchester. He is an expert on contemporary alternative spiritualities, especially modern Paganism, neo-shamanism and psychedelic spiritualities.

Dr Sarah Elisa Kelly

Sarah comes from a background in cultural theory and environmental humanities, specialising in philosophies of meaning-making via the field of deconstruction and French feminism.  Her research draws heavily on subversive arts thinking, alternative practices of imagination, forms of unknowing, non-dominant cultural cosmologies and modes of everyday creative resistance. She has also trained extensively in somatic and movement practices and is passionate about embodiment politics. She is an apprentice teacher with the school of Movement Medicine and facilitates sharing circles and eco-somatic explorations under the moniker “Embodied Ecologies”.

Qualification(s) required for entry to the MA

BA/BSc (Honours) Degree A first degree
Where the first degree is not a 2.1, or in an unrelated subject, further support of the application or experience may be required.

Other non-standard awards or experience
A willingness engage with the field of Engaged Ecology. Candidates will be considered with prior credited learning and prior experiences subject to interview.* Candidates will be considered with appropriate APL (UoP Regs) s ubject to interview.*

Interview requirements
All applicants are required to attend an interview, either at the College or online. During the interview we will look for: evidence of intellectual clarity during interview; a clearly formulated purpose for taking the course; focused interests and a clear understanding of the ethos and philosophy of the College; readiness and ability to live and work in a communal setting.

* For further information please contact our admissions team