Taught course

Holistic Science

Schumacher College · Schumacher College

Entry requirements

We normally expect our MSc or PG Certificate students to hold a first degree in a natural or a social science, but we will accept applications from non-graduates in exceptional circumstances when relevant life and work experience can be demonstrated.

Months of entry


Course content

MSc, PG Cert
We are seeking highly motivated individuals who want to make a difference in the world.
Join our learning community for this pioneering programme in Holistic Science which completely re-evaluates our scientific understanding of nature, the ecological crisis we face and our role in widespread ecological, economic and social change. Schumacher College has been the pioneering force in Holistic Science for 20 years. It has brought together the radical thinkers, practitioners and activists around the world whose ideas are helping to transform our relationship with nature.
Schumacher College in partnership with Plymouth University (link is external) is the first in the world to offer a postgraduate programme in Holistic Science.
Schumacher College has been the pioneering force of Holistic Science for 20 years. It has brought together the radical thinkers, practitioners and activists around the world whose ideas approach centre-stage as we collectively begin to accept the need for radical rethinking of our ecological, social and economic systems.
What is Holistic Science?
The MSc explores new methodologies that are gaining success in exploring natural systems. These recognise that complex systems are dynamic processes realising their emergent properties as wholes – and that these properties are conditioned, but not determined, by the system’s constituent parts.
The course provides methodologies that go beyond reductionism in understanding dynamic interactive systems, whether these are ecosystems, the weather, organisations, a plant or a developing human embryo. Students develop a holistic understanding of these systems and along the way learn to apply techniques such as computer modelling, intuitive perception and phenomenology. Of particular importance here is Goethe’s methodology as a way of meeting the whole through the parts.
The MSc advocates a participatory science of interactions, qualities, values and intuition, a science that is more capable of informing some of the key movements today, including environmental restoration, spiritual renewal and community regeneration.
Holistic thinking is already revolutionising physics, earth system science, ecology, evolutionary biology, organisational development and health studies. It is generating increasing interest from scientists in many fields – especially those concerned with issue relating to sustainability. Since1998, when it first began, this Masters programme has developed a coherent methodology of holistic enquiry, proving a rigorous and ethical framework for a mature science.
"This is not just an intellectual enquiry. It’s a really embodied, participatory approach to nature which can help to foster a deep sense of belonging". Stephan Harding, Resident Ecologist and Head of Holistic Science, Schumacher College.
On this programme you will gain:
• A thorough understanding of the pros and cons of using western science as a tool for gaining reliable information about the world.
• Insights about how contemporary sustainability issues have come about and the various routes we could take in addressing them.
• Theoretical and experiential understandings of an ecological world view for transforming your understanding of your place in the world and how to act within it.
• An understanding of the importance of sensing, feeling and intuition for an expanded science.
• Knowledge of a range of alternative scientific methodologies which integrate qualitative experience and quantitative measurement.
• An understanding of the emergent properties of whole systems through the lenses of chaos, complexity and Gaia theories, and how these relate to ecological, social and economic problems.
• An understanding of how Holistic Science is being applied in the worlds of business, economics, health and mainstream science in the creation of a more sustainable world.
• A clearer understanding of your own rational and emotional states and processes through experiential and reflective group enquiry.
As part of this programme you will also carry out an independent research project in which you can apply holistic science to your own area of interest.
This is an unparalleled opportunity to undertake high level research outside the usual constraints of academic norms. Projects can be presented as personal narrative, film, artwork, poetry or any other creative endeavour, alongside more conventional modes of delivery.
As part of this programme you will also carry out an independent research project in which you will apply holistic science to your own area of interest.
Visiting teachers will be drawn from Schumacher College associates who include Craig Holdrege, Fritjof Capra, Jane Goodall, Vandana Shiva, David Orr, Deepak Chopra, Patch Adams, Margaret Wheatley, Jonathon Porritt, Janine Benyus and many other key thinkers and activists.
MSc course programme
• Module One: Science with Qualities: New Scientific Methodologies (20 credits)
• Module Two: Chaos and Complexity (20 credits)
• Module Three: The Living Earth (20 credits)
• Elective Short Courses (two courses, 20 credits each)
• Dissertation (80 credits – around 15,000 words or equivalent)
Who is this course for?
Are you deeply concerned about the state of the natural world? Are you hoping to make a difference with your life and work? Are you willing to experiment in a group learning process that makes you part of something bigger than yourself as an individual? The primary qualification we are looking for in our students is a strong interest in nature, how it evolves and self-organises and what we as individuals, organisations and cultures can learn from it in our quest for a sustainable future. We welcome people from all backgrounds, cultures and of any age – whether you are currently employed, unemployed, a student or retired. The diversity of our student group is a rich part of how we learn and is a reflection of the diversity of nature itself.
Where you will go
Graduates of the MSc have taken a broad integrated systemic approach in areas such as environmental management, education for sustainability, design, biological research, ecological business consulting, academia, healthcare, agriculture, media and film-making, NGOs and working with indigenous people. They are equipped with skills ideally suited to self-employment or organisational consultancy.
Download the Holistic Science Programme Quality Handbook here: http://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/downloads/holistic-science-2015-16-PQ-handbook.pdf
Download the Holistic Science Teaching, Learning and Assessment Handbook here: http://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/downloads/holistic-science-TLA-handbook%202015-16.pdf
Our teachers include:

Information for international students

All applicants who do not hold a GCSE (Grade C or above) in English language, must provide evidence of their English language ability in the form of a IELTS Academic Certificate with a score of 6.5 overall with minimum 5.5 for each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Fees and funding

Bursaries are available for this course - please see our website for eligibility

Chevening Scholarships Awards A number of Chevening Scholarships are available for our Holistic Science and Economics for Transition postgraduate programmes starting in September each year. The deadline for application is early November Please click here for more details: http://www.chevening.org/welcome-to-chevening - See more at: https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/courses/postgraduate-courses/holistic-science#sthash.L2WUUFGS.dpuf

Qualification and course duration


full time
4 months


full time
12 months


AssessmentWhat kind of work will I be doing? (proportionally)
Written coursework / continuous assessment56

Course contact details

+44 (0)1803 847212
+44 (0)1803 866 899