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BA (Hons) Outdoor Adventure Education

Help people to learn in nature. Study through extensive fieldwork with highly experienced tutors. Your classroom will be Dartmoor National Park and the rivers and stunning surfing beaches of the South West coast.

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Active, practical learning

Entry requirements

Three A-levels at grades CCC or above.

Or BTEC triple grades MMM or above.

Or Access 23-45 with min 6D.

And GCSE English Language at grade 4 or grade C or above.

A DBS check and ISA registration are also required.

Applications from students with non-traditional qualifications are welcome, particularly those who have:

  • Long term participation in, or competing in a sport such as rock climbing, sailing, kayaking, surfing or orienteering.
  • Working towards or have achieved Gold DofE Award.
  • The Scouts, military cadets, other voluntary organisations that use the outdoors.

UCAS points 96

UCAS code X391

Duration 3 years full-time or part-time options available

How to apply for this course

Places still available to start in September

Register your interest and we'll call you to chat about clearing and your options at Marjon.

Course Summary

Spend three years with like-minded enthusiasts, developing your career in the outdoors. Study an interesting and exciting way of educating people, with active, practical learning, while you grow and develop your skills in natural settings. Marjon’s outdoor education degree is accredited by the Institute for Outdoor Learning. 

We are flanked by the stunning scenery of Dartmoor National Park and the beautiful rivers, estuaries and beaches of Devon and Cornwall. Within these inspiring environments and our excellent on-campus facilities, you’ll explore the theory and practice of adventure education and outdoor learning, studying with experienced and passionate tutors. You'll also enjoy free use of a wide range of outdoors equipment.

Exciting adventures will happen. You will undertake expeditions on Dartmoor and in Snowdonia as well as exploring the Devon and Cornwall coastline in a kayak, canoe or sailing dinghy, discovering the best surfing beaches along the way. Additionally you'll have opportunities to study abroad with partner universities in Canada and Iceland and undertake international placements with organisations such as Camp America.

You’ll be guided by experienced and committed professionals, and you’ll be studying with like-minded people. This outdoor education degree attracts students who love thinking and doing, and people who have a great attitude to learning, trying new things and spending time outdoors having an adventure. You don't need lots of experience or fancy equipment, just a great positive attitude!

Show video transcript

Mark: We teach on a range of programs across the university, and in particular, we have a BA in Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning. We're using a whole range of exciting adventurous activities. And that's our classroom, the outdoors. Here at Marjon, we're in a fantastic location in the United Kingdom, just a fantastic place to go and sail and explore, and be outdoors with like minded people.

Sarah: You're right by the coast and Dartmoor, that's just a bonus.

Rhys: It gives a good mix for different experiences, using different types of rock and different areas.

Sarah: You've got the climbing wall, as you can see. We have independent study sessions, which is where it's two hour slot, either in the pool or on the climbing wall, where you can just go along practice any skills you've learned. Got the kayaks and canoes in the pool, and we've got so much more equipment in the Outdoor Adventure Education Centre, that is available to hire at anytime. Marjon is a great university because it's so supportive, there's so many opportunities available here.

Rhys: Marjon's a bit more of a family, it's a smaller university. So if you like the thought of coming to a university, getting to know everyone and getting involved with the university, it's the perfect place because you've got plenty of time to do your outdoors. You're in the perfect location. But at the same time, if you're thinking about, "Oh, how am I going to do all my essays?" or struggling with work and stuff, if you've got those sort of worries, the lecturers are always there, are really supportive. And then it's really easy to talk to second and third years as well.

Aaron: It was quite a worried moment when I decided to actually go to university. I left a full-time job to come and do a full-time education course. And being a little bit older and stuff, I was definitely worried about it and all those sort of things. But actually, it's been one of the best things I've ever done.

Izzy: Studying at Marjon has, educationally, prepared me with the theories that really underpin outdoor adventure. And has given me an idea of how to make concrete outdoor experiences that have a lasting impact on the children.

Why this course at Marjon?

UK and International field trips include an exciting range of outdoor activities on land and water.

All technical equipment provided for your own adventures.

Independent study in the kayaking pool and climbing wall every week.

Experienced and passionate staff – internationally recognised as leaders in the subject.

Location, location, location! Atmospheric Dartmoor and the Devon and Cornwall coastline!

Our wide range of local, regional, national and international networks helps connect you to employment opportunities in the outdoors sector.

Students say...

Seren Beautyman

“The best thing about the course has to be the practical and independent study sessions. The practicals give us a great opportunity to bond as a group, and provide an excellent grounding for our academic studies and future industry work. Our lecturers really encourage us to think for ourselves and learn experientially, which has helped develop my critical thinking and is a lot of fun.”

Marlies Maczejka

“Plymouth offers something for everyone. Being close to Dartmoor National Park and the sea, every person who loves the outdoors can find something to do here. Furthermore, Plymouth provides many chances to gain work experience in the outdoor field. I’ve worked outdoors, doing all sorts of different activities in various countries over the last couple of years. I wanted a new challenge. This course helps me to improve my personal skills, as well as discovering new interesting activities.”

This course is perfect if you're curious about

So why do schools educate indoors?

What makes for an adventure and where does it start?

How do you want to change the world?

Do you really have a comfort zone?

Bear Grylls: is he good or bad for outdoor education?

Why do people think I like getting wet and cold? (I have great waterproofs!)

“The Marjon Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning team have been fundamental in developing a dynamic, connected outdoor learning community in the South West. We regularly meet students of this course and on every occasion we have been impressed with the quality of engagement and their passion to learn about the world or outdoor and adventurous learning. I am confident in saying that Marjon really is the hub of outdoor learning in the South West.”
Brendan Stone - Head of Dartmoor Centres and Outdoor Education Advisor

What might you become?

Employment opportunities exist in a variety of professions. Recent graduates have gone on to become an outdoor learning tutor in school; outdoor adventure activity instructor with Neilson Holidays, PGL, Outward Bound; expedition leader for a travel company; social enterprise/own business e.g. slacklining with Ru-Slack; police officers with the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary; fire fighters e.g. Cornwall Fire Service and the Armed forces. You may also undertake postgraduate study such as a PGCE to become a teacher or a Master's degree.

Show video transcript

Georgios: So my name is Georgios and I'm studying outdoor adventure education. Well, when I lived in Greece, I used to work as a kite surfing instructor, and I knew that at some point I wanted to do a degree. And generally I looked around at different courses at the universities, and I couldn't quite find something that was related to what I liked doing. But eventually I found this and after reading the description and then having a quick chat with the people who work here, I realized that it's quite strongly linked to what I like doing as a job. So I think Plymouth is great. First of all, because it's next to the sea and growing up next to sea, I really felt I had to be somewhere where it will be the same way. Also, there's a lot of nice places in the city itself, nice pubs, clubs, cafes, just places to hang out and so on.

But most importantly, I reckon it's just got so many places where we can effectively practice what we do in our course. So we've got the moors, there's a lot of tors to climb on and a lot of rivers and canals. So generally it's quite a diverse location overall, where you can really just indulge in whatever it is that you like doing. I think the course is fantastic. I couldn't possibly recommend it more to someone. First year, in halls, it's just really, really good for any first year wanting to get to meet some new people and just have things going on every single day. Because even if you're just sitting in your room and you're bored and nothing's really happening, you can be absolutely sure someone's going to knock on your door and be like, "All right mate, come on, let's go do this, let's go do that."

So the years after that, I lived in the village, which is also great because after first year, I feel you really want to focus a little bit more on your studies. And the village really provides you with a place where you can have a bit more peace and quiet, have your own space. And most importantly be right next to class. So you wake up in the morning, you've got a 9:00 am, you just get up and have a quick shower and two minutes and you're there. It's really great as well on campus, we have a lot of facilities that help us practice whatever it is that we're learning in the classroom. So for example, we have the pool where we go with the kayaks and the canoes, and we practice our strokes and our rolls if you're familiar with kayaking.

At the same time, we have a climbing wall with a great diversity of climbs. And we do spend some hours in the sports science lab and we get to learn a bit more about how our body works in an outdoor education scenario. And just learn a little bit more about the physiology of how everything goes on inside while we're practicing.

I'd say the main thing you have to keep in mind is how much our lecturers care for our students. I realized that from day one, they really made sure that we knew that they would be there for us. And they really, really cared for us doing well. Of course, they expect of you to put the effort in and be interested in what you're doing and love what you are doing. But you have to know that they will always provide you with whatever support is that you're going to need. And again it's because of how relatively small we are as a university, which gives us that opportunity. I say predominantly that, but other than that, as I said before, it's just the place, you have the tours, you have the lakes, the rivers, which just gives us such a great platform to practice everything that we do.


Aaron Stephenson

“Having worked in an outdoor environment before university I had only a basic understanding of the wider outdoor commercial sector. University showed me what is available and what impact I could have on the outdoors. I grew as an instructor while at university and continue to grow and learn from that strong foundation today. I am lucky enough to work with young people and the work I do helps those young people overcome their struggles and at times helps show them how very capable they are.”

Aaron is a Centre Manager for Reach Outdoors.

Ben Hughes

"Although I had previously worked and studied in and around the outdoor industry prior to attending university, the course helped me build my holistic understanding of numerous different sectors of the industry. The course also sparked something inside me that made me enjoy learning for the first time in my life. The lectures on the course and the university have great links within the outdoor industry in the south west, which on the name alone assist you with gaining a good placement."

Ben is the founder of Ru-Slack, a social enterprise.

Izzy Cramp

"I am fascinated by the curiosity that the children display and their natural ability to play, explore and be enthused about the simplest of things. Even in the rain the children are never deterred from going outside. Being at University I was inspired and enthused by the lecturers, encouraged to think for myself and enquire. I was given and made opportunities and experiences which I believe have equipped me for my future."

Izzie is a Learning Outside the Classroom Teacher and Chair of the South West Institute of Outdoor Learning.

In partnership with:

Mountain Training

Institute of Outdoor Learning

European Institute for Outdoor Adventure Ed and Experiential Learning

Royal Yachting Association

British Canoeing

Modules for this course

Course Snapshot

"The first year of the course was very active as we learnt all the basics in kayaking, canoeing, climbing and navigation, as well as how to research and think academically. In the second year our basic skills became more advanced through traditional climbing, sea kayaking and mountain biking. In the third year, we got to choose an area to specialise in and we will do a placement in an organisation of our choice or learn more about how to run our own business."
Marlies - Third year, BA (Hons) Outdoor Adventure Education


1st Year

Introduction to experiential outdoor education
Kayak, canoe and SUP around some beautiful places to introduce the holistic concepts of self, others and nature whilst exploring the physical, emotional and intellectual challenges and risks encountered.
Land based adventure sport
Climbing on walls, preparing you for Climbing Wall Award; orienteering to explore local outdoor environments requiring good map skills and running; coasteering and gorge walking all help you explore concepts of adventure and the risk continuum.
Expeditions: theory & practice
Dartmoor tors, geology, bogs, biology, folklore and legends are all explored, along with the questions of what is, and why do we, go on expeditions? Navigation and camp craft to help you plan two days and one night of self-directed expedition.
Professional & personal development
Expert tuition in developing your professional identity and guiding your academic development. How to read. What to read. How to write. What can I do as a Marjon Outdoor Adventure Education graduate?
Foundations of coaching & instructing
The fundamentals of planning, coaching and reviewing are explored through practical peer teaching. Pool kayak, climbing wall, or onsite MTB provides excellent resources to explore the theory and practice of group sessions as an observer, participant and as the leader.
Applied physiology & psychology for outdoor adventure
Practical investigation of the principles essential for safe participation in adventurous activities using our state-of-the-art sport science facilities. Nutrition, health, fitness, training, temperature are all explored before heading outside to focus on the psychological impacts of exciting environments.

2nd Year

Place based outdoor education
Come dinghy sailing with expert RYA instruction and explore the maritime cultural stories of Plymouth and Britain. Connect with the amazing seafaring heritage that makes Plymouth a special city and harbour.
Environmental awareness through adventure sport
This highly active module, outdoor crag climbing or flat out mountain biking, provides direct experience of many adventure environments. Your personal experience, environmental awareness and understanding grows as a result of these fieldwork experiences.
Managing expeditions on the water
Sea kayak around the stunning Devon and Cornwall coastline with course friends. Develop the theory and practice of managing groups on water expeditions before planning your own student led journey.
Leadership in the mountains
MTA summer mountain leader training taught by your lecturers in Snowdonia as part of a week long outdoor education residential experience. Three days and two nights on a self-contained expedition provides authentic experiences to write about for assessment.
Research methods in education
Develop your knowledge skills and understanding of how to ask the right questions, and what questions are worth asking.
Forest School & outdoor learning
Forest School principles and practice are explored in our on-campus woodland classroom. Fire lighting, shelter building, knives and axes all feature in this wood-smoked exploration of the underpinning theories of different forms of outdoor learning.
Placement learning
Real world opportunities to explore a variety of adventure education and outdoor learning settings. With a clear self-negotiated focus, you can develop your chosen career path and professional identity; good placement students often have job offers at the end!

3rd Year

Honours project
Independent project with support from your tutor. Go on an expedition, produce a DVD, run an event, design a website, build a canoe, produce teaching materials or do a research dissertation. Enjoy your project and enhance your CV.
Current issues in outdoor practice
Meet outdoor professionals from our extensive networks to discuss and experience the very latest ideas, issues and research in the outdoor sector. Plastic in the oceans, oppressive working practices, challenging behaviours, outdoor therapy or the value of Bear Grylls! Whatever is current!
Advanced outdoor practice
Professional identity and career direction are explored here. A practical course of your choice - from options - allows for practical skill development and NGB qualifications. Includes online CV or webpage.
Placement learning
More real world opportunities to explore a variety of adventure education and outdoor learning settings and develop your chosen career path. Good placement students often have job offers at the end!
Entrepreneurship & small business management
Ideal real life business development for those interested in setting up their own business or social enterprise, as well as management skills needed for working in many outdoor settings. Taught by experts from the Marjon Business School.
Creative practice for outdoor learning
A fantastic range of creative approaches for learning outdoors; storytelling, photography, beach art or wherever the creative flow takes us. Using play and playfulness to enhance creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £9,250 per annum

Fees for International students: £12,000 per annum

Additional costs:

  • Use of all technical equipment is free of charge including surf boards, mountain bikes, kayaks, tents and climbing racks. These can be borrowed at any time unless required for teaching.
  • Free independent study sessions in the swimming pool and on the climbing wall to practice and develop skills. 
  • Sailing boats are available for a small charge (currently £6 per session) during organised club times.
  • Summer Mountain Leader Training is included in the course fees but requires registration with the British Mountaineering Council (currently £1 per month for members under 27 years).
  • Residential fieldwork costs are kept really low with students only required to purchase expedition food; all travel, maps, accomodation, teaching and eqpt fees for trips are inclusive.

Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

Includes fieldwork (for example sailing in Plymouth Sound to explore the social psychology of group work and climbing on granite tors exploring the myths and legends of Dartmoor), seminars, small lectures and tutorials; with extensive resources located on students’ online learning space.


How will you be assessed?

No exams. 100% coursework including a variety of assessments including essays, reports, presentations, practical participation, negotiated assessments and research projects.

Course leader

Dr Mark Leather

Dr Mark Leather is privileged to lead an outstanding team of committed and passionate colleagues who work with amazing young men and women who graduate and then go on to change the world. Mark’s experience includes; managing a residential adventure centre, a sailing instructor in a residential centre in Salcombe, three seasons on Camp America as the Director of the Counsellor in Training program, Head of Science in a rural secondary school with an extensive outdoor programme. Mark is an all-rounder in outdoor activities, and he teaches; paddling, sailing, hill walking and expeditions, and believes that outdoor education is about people, places and the planet. It is always “more than activities!”. Mark is internationally known through his publications, research and conference presentations, which he uses to add richness to this course.

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Abigail Gurr

Visiting Lecturer - Outdoor Education

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Abigail is qualified teacher who has moved from teaching mathematics into the world of outdoor education. She has a special interest in improving inclusivity and accessibility in the outdoors.

Fiona Nicholls

Senior Lecturer

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Fiona, is a qualified teacher and RYA qualified powerboat and senior sailing instructor, BCU Coach Inland kayak and Sea, Mountain Leader and Rock Climbing Instructor; teaching across the programme on the moor, crag and sea. She brings infectious enthusiasm as well as a wide networks of contacts from many years managing Plymouth City Council’s outdoor education provision before joining team Marjon.

Hamish Wilson

Media & Creative Arts Support Team Member

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Hamish is our legendary (according to the students) instructor and technician, he is a great source of technical knowledge and advice. Fortunately, he is also outstanding at fixing broken equipment! Hamish is always on hand to support students wishing to borrow equipment to go off on their own adventures.

Frequently asked questions

Q1   Are there exams?

There are no exams. This course is 100% coursework with each module typically having two pieces of assessed work.

Q2   What professional awards will I earn?

You get the opportunity to gain your Summer Mountain Leader Training Award. British Canoeing Paddlesport Awards, Royal Yachting Association, powerboating and climbing wall awards are also built into the teaching. This is not an instructor training course that guarantees multiple qualifications however, there are opportunities to gain awards.

Q3   Who teaches on the residential trips?

Members of our teaching team accompany you on all fieldwork, including residentials, to maximise all opportunities for high quality outdoor education and to ensure that fieldwork learning is fully integrated with the rest of the teaching.

Q4   How big is the class?

The average class is 24 like-minded adventurous students per year. You'll split into smaller working groups for practical fieldwork activities.

Q5   What's the timetable?

The timetable is shared at the start of each semester to enable you plan for study and other commitments, including part-time work or caring commitments. You can expect to be on campus for between 3 and 4 days per week and most weeks you will go off campus for exploring and learning experiences too.

Q6   Are there international trips?

We don't include an international trip within the course to avoid extra costs for students, but there are extra-curricular opportunities for international experiences. These include a popular annual sport climbing trip to Spain, adventures and work placements across our international networks and a Camp America bursary is available.

More information

"I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with Marjon students and teachers for the last 15 years. Marjon students always impress me with the quality and depth of their underpinning knowledge, their wide terms of reference within and outside their chosen field of study and their enthusiasm for learning. The quality of the students seems to me a direct reflection of the quality of teaching and the learning environment." Orlando Rutter, Senior Learning and Outreach Officer at Dartmoor National Park.

To see more of what you could be doing have a look at:

We are members of the European Institute for Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning (EOE).

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