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MA - Outdoor and Experiential Learning (Ambleside)

If you love the outdoors and are passionate about helping others to be confident in who they are and the contribution they are making to society, the environment and the planet, then this outdoor experiential learning masters program is for you.

Our outdoor experiential learning masters will challenge your current understanding and practice by looking through the alternative lens of outdoor experiential learning.

Based at our Ambleside campus in the heart of the Lake District National Park, you will live and study surrounded by mountains, woods, rivers and lakes – an unrivalled location for outdoor education.

Apply (Full-time)

Outdoor and Experiential Learning (Ambleside) cover image

Course Overview

This course uses the fundamental process of actual lived experience to explore the cultural, ecological and political lenses which influence our thoughts and behaviour. In contrast to more formal approaches to learning, this course exemplifies experiential learning in its delivery, as well as in the content of its curriculum.

To reflect this contemporary trend, there are 3 pathways to choose from which reflect current applications of experiential learning.

• Outdoor & Experiential Learning
• Outdoor & Experiential Learning (Bushcraft)
• Outdoor & Experiential Learning (Health & Wellbeing)

You will consider the histories, contemporary application and growth of outdoor and experiential learning at the intersections of professional practice, pedagogy and philosophy via debate & discussion, creative reflection, critical analysis and critique of research and evidence.

From your base in Ambleside, you can take advantage of more than 150 lofty peaks, 16 lakes and an abundance of rivers across the Lake District – quite literally a classroom on your doorstep.

On this course you will...

  • Be part of a Lake District campus that prioritises hands-on and skills-based learning.
  • Be part of an innovative and creative course that is tailored to the individual for professional development and enhanced employability
  • Have the opportunity to be creative and critical in challenging accepted ideas about both the contexts of experiential learning and about yourself.
  • Be part of a transdisciplinary course including teaching on anthropology, philosophy, Bushcraft, therapeutic landscapes, art, pedagogy, eco-psychology, outdoor and environmental education, experiential learning, environmental humanities, and more.
  • Explore options for your personal and professional lives derived from many disciplines and cultures based on a reconsideration of the very processes of sensation, perception and cognition.
  • Be taught by an internationally renowned, highly-qualified, experienced, empathetic, and diverse staff team with a breadth of expertise in pathway areas and in creative and imaginative teaching and learning.
Apply (Full-time)

Course Structure

What you will learn

There are three pathways to choose from in order to complete the MA qualification.

The Outdoor & Experiential Learning pathway engages with current debates around environmental empathy, displacement, social equality, adventurous journeying, embodiment, outdoor recreation, nature-culture philosophies, colonialism, globalization and management of people in organisations, sustainability and alternative forms of education, for example.

The Bushcraft pathway deeply engages the learner with both practical and theoretical concerns within the emerging academic field of Bushcraft. This field speaks to wider implications for educational, therapeutic, commercial and recreational ideas.

The Health and Wellbeing pathway offers a reflective exploration of the student’s own therapeutic relationship with ‘the outdoors’ as well as personal and planetary wellbeing and ill-health. Utilising experimental walks and residential settings, alternative narratives of human-environment relations will be developed whilst exploring historical, traditional and contemporary perspectives of nature based psychotherapies and therapeutic landscapes.

Compulsory modules
  • Introduction to Outdoor and Experiential Learning
    Explore the processes and definitions of Outdoor and Experiential Learning.
  • The Reflexive Practitioner
    Examine the concept of ‘world views’ and explore their impact on professional practice.
  • Independent Inquiry
    The aim of the module is to support students in planning, conducting and writing up an applied research or evaluation project within the field.
  • Dissertation
    Design and conduct a substantial piece of independent supervised research.
Pathway modules

Bushcraft Pathway

  • Histories and Principles of Bushcraft
    Explore the history and growth of bushcraft as a practice and an ideology.
  • Cultures and Practices of Bushcraft
    Taking as its starting point the concerns articulated by contemporary Indigenous scholarship, about the appropriation of traditional cultures by both Westernised global commerce and academy, we explore the problems and the potentials of Bushcraft as a transformative concept in the modern world.

Outdoor & Experiential Learning Pathway

  • Know Your Place: Place Responsive Approaches to the Outdoors
    The module explores different ways in which we and others create space and how that can help us consider how these different “lenses” shape our place.
  • Learning from Adventurous Journeys
    Adopting a field-based journey approach the module will enable students to reflect critically on their work with adventurous journeys and develop new, innovative and challenging experiences with enhanced knowledge of the theory underpinning professional practice.

Health & Wellbeing Pathway

  • Querying Therapeutic Landscapes & Outdoor Psychotherapies
    Introduces and critiques the theoretical underpinnings of outdoor psychotherapies and therapeutic landscapes research and applications. Utilising experimental walks, alternative narratives of human-environment relations will be developed to explore the concept of ‘assemblages of health’.
  • Therapeutic Opportunities in the Outdoors
    Reflectively explore individual therapeutic relationships with the outdoors. This module typically contains a residential aspect.

Attend an Open Day at Cumbria

An Open Day is your opportunity to explore one of 5 campuses, meet your lecturers, and find out how the University of Cumbria could become your new home.

Take the next step towards achieving your dreams.
A student stands in front of a wall splattered with paint.