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BA (Hons) Outdoor Learning in Early Years and Primary Education

Discover how teaching in the natural environment helps children to thrive and flourish. This course provides a deep understand of how children develop and learn. It is a stepping stone to ready you to study for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or a career in the broader outdoor learning sector.

Spend time outdoors in diverse school and outdoor learning settings across the South West

Entry requirements

Three A-levels at grades CCC or above.

Or BTEC triple grades MMM or above.

Or Access 23-45 level 3 credits D/M with minimum 6D.

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

DBS enhanced clearance required.



UCAS points 96


Duration Three years full-time or up to six years part-time

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

With our BA (Hons) Outdoor Learning in Early Years and Primary Education you'll discover how to create a teaching environment that helps children to thrive. If you want to understand early years or primary education in the natural environment, then this course is for you!

Discover what it is like to teach children and get robust practical experience with a placement in every year of the course. Explore how people learn about themselves, others and the environment by working outdoors in nature as well as in school and early years settings.

Fieldwork experiences are fundamental to BA (Hons) Outdoor Learning in Early Years and Primary Education; you'll be in the woods at Forest School, in the grounds of a primary school, local park or on Dartmoor, or exploring educational opportunities at the beach.

We will give you the tools to be confident and successful when working outdoors, just bring your wellies!

Why this course at Marjon?

Learn from an experienced and passionate academic team who have a diverse range of expertise.

Placement projects available each year, working with a tutor in a school, early years setting, or an outdoor setting.

Our close links to hundreds of schools and early years settings help you develop your professional network.

Your classroom will include nature reserves, Dartmoor National Park, beautiful coasts and estuaries.

A wide range of international opportunities including Ireland, Iceland, and Norway.

Well established links with schools and outdoor education settings across the South West.

This course is perfect if you're curious about

So why do schools educate indoors?

Why does being in nature make me feel good?

How do you want to change the world?

How can I teach children at the beach when it's right on our doorstep?

Where can I find The Hound of the Baskervilles and how do I take children there?

Are there really any limits to what we can teach through outdoor learning?

What might you become?

Many students go on to a primary teaching through a one-year PGCE Primary or School Direct, making a real difference and contribution to the lives of children. Our postgraduate teacher training students are the most satisfied in the UK across all but one of the categories measured in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) 2020.

Other opportunities include Early Years Teacher Training (which is currently fully funded by the government), community education, youth work, in outdoor and informal educational settings. 

Modules for this course


1st Year

Introduction to outdoor experiential learning
Explore some beautiful locations whilst learning experientially outdoors. You'll be introduced to the foundations of holistic outdoor learning including concepts of 'self, others and nature', academic, physical and emotional challenges and the associated risks.
Learning at Marjon
You'll develop the academic skills you need to produce your best work and start on career planning.
Introduction to education studies
You'll explore education studies and the nature of education, including curriculum, history of education and the impact of a wide range of other factors on education.
Engaging with practice
This is the first placement module. You will prepare, plan and evaluate your experience, developing your skills as a reflective practitioner and exploring how theory and practice are linked.
Creative and inclusive practice
Explore how ALL children can be best supported.
Dartmoor for outdoor learning
Dartmoor National Park is a stunning wild location - full of stories, history and geography. It's an inspiring place to learn and a stimulating environment in which to connect authentically with each other and the planet!

2nd Year

Forest and Beach schools
Principles and practice are explored in our on-campus woodland classroom and on local beaches. Fire lighting, shelter building, knives and axes all feature in this wood-smoked exploration of the theories of outdoor learning.
Inclusive outdoor learning
Is Outdoor learning inclusive and accessible for all? You'll consider the range and scope of disability and explore practical considerations necessary in order to include all learners in best practice.
Pedagogical paradigms*
Many key thinkers have influenced educational practice. We consider the ideas of a number of these.
Global childhoods*
How is childhood different depending on where you live in the world? You'll develop an understanding of children and their experience of childhood locally and globally and how play impacts children's development.
Educational research
What are the impacts of research within education? You'll explore issues of ethics and values, as well as the inter-relationship between theory and methods of research.
Experiential placement
You'll get more hands-on experience at a work placement of your choosing.
Residential education
You'll explore the development of residential outdoor education and examine the potential for residential visits to create powerful learning opportunities for young people. You'll consider how outdoor learning experiences create step changes in an individual’s personal development and confidence.

3rd Year

Education project
You'll undertake an independent piece of research on a topic of interest to you. You'll critically appraise published literature relevant to the topic and design, conduct and analyse your own research.
Outdoor learning and school placement*
This is a practical applied module with specific focus on outdoor learning planning and actualising the learning outcomes through experiential educational approaches.
Developing a personal philosophy of education*
You'll consider the tension between policy and practice, and develop your own philosophy of education.
Critical pedagogy and the Early Years Foundation Stage
How is this important time in a child's life best supported through rich learning experiences?
Place based outdoor education
Develop curiosity about 'place' and develop a process to apply this in a variety of settings. You'll enjoy an introduction to the contribution that fieldwork on, or adjacent to the water, makes to place based outdoor education.
Leadership and quality in education*
How do we make sure that the settings we work in are quality settings? How do we lead staff to be the best they can be?
Outdoor food: Communities, cultures and practice*
You'll explore the centrality of food and its relevance to participants and outdoor programmes. You'll get the opportunity to enhance your own cooking skills and this may include a variety of outdoor contexts and stove type.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £9,250

Fees for International students: £12,000

Funding available for this course


Additional costs:

Students are expected to have waterproof clothing and shoes for field trips.

Your schedule



Course location(s):


Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

Includes lectures, seminars, workshops, active learning activities, group work, self-directed study and work placements.

How will you be assessed?

Includes essays, presentations, observations and project work.

Course leader

Dr Mark Leather

Mark is an all-rounder in outdoor activities and is known for his research on Forest Schools, Outdoor Learning and Place Based Outdoor Education. He teaches paddling, sailing, hill walking and expeditions. He is an experienced tutor who is internationally known through his publications, research and conference presentations. He draws on previous experience as an Adventure Centre Manager, Sailing Instructor, Head of Science and as Director of the Counsellor in Training program for Camp America.

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Jayne Garcia


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Jayne is an experienced Early Years Teacher and Pre-School Manager with additional insight into primary education, including school governance. She teaches Child Development and Early Years Initial Teacher Training with a focus on Attachment, Transitions and Children's Emotional Development, as well as Leadership in Early Years.

Jan Gourd

Senior Lecturer

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Jan was previously a primary head teacher in the South West and she now leads a teaching team at Marjon who together draw on decades of classroom experience and wide-ranging research specialisms to deliver Education courses.

Hannah Holdgate


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Hannah is a former SureStart Children's Centre Manager, Nursery Manager and Early Years Professional, assessor and mentor. She is particularly interested in Early Years, Play, Inclusion and Leadership.

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.

Miles Smith


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Miles’ Master’s is in English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics and he has twenty years of experience teaching, including to adults and children.

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