Schumacher College

MSc Holistic Science

It is precisely at this time of global upheaval that we want you to come to Schumacher College to share with us the ways in which you are moved to live and act differently. With a focus on interactive, experiential and participatory learning, Schumacher College offers the practical skills and strategic thinking required to face the ecological, economic and social challenges of the 21st Century bringing together the leading thinkers, activists and practitioners internationally, to deliver a unique brand of small group learning experiences. Schumacher College has an enviable reputation for cutting-edge learning.

Holistic science integrates aspects of reductionism and mainstream science by developing a more comprehensive basis for seeing and knowing. At the heart is Goethe’s systematic way of involving imagination of nature’s qualities, complexity and intrinsic value. Holistic thinking is stimulated by phenomenology and in tackling challenges related to physics, earth system science, ecology, biology, organisational development and health studies.

Course details

  • Programme overview
  • Core modules
    • SCH5401 Science with Qualities

      This module examines the fundamental principles of modern science and their limitations. It also explores new directions in science that combine quantitative and qualitative approaches.

    • SCH5402 Chaos and Complexity

      An exploration of theoretical and practical principles of chaos and complexity theories using mathematical modelling and experiential enquiry.

    • SCH5403 The Living Earth

      The module examines the principles of complexity and emergent order at the level of the Earth. Studies in biogeophysical processes and models of integrative global dynamical processes will be used to critically review how globally stable states can emerge from complex biological and geophysical interactions.

    • SCH5404 Holistic Science Dissertation

      This module provides students with the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their capacity for independent study in the application of research and reporting skills to an appropriate topic.

    Optional modules
    • SCH508 Economics of Happiness

      The module examines the emerging field of happiness, or wellbeing, economics drawing especially on the Bhutanese experiment with Gross National Happiness, and its applications internationally.

    • SCH5405 Contemporary Issues in Holistic Science

      Rapid developments in mainstream science are converging on key insights in holistic science. This module allows students to explore a range of these convergences together with their various social and ethical implications.

    • SCH5406 Leading in the midst of Complexity

      This course offers a new approach to leadership and group facilitation using principles from an ecological and participatory worldview. Skills are developed in understanding systemic patterns and group dynamics, cultural narratives, communication skills, action-learning and other practices. Students work on case studies to model, practice and critique the methodologies presented.

    • SCH5407 Ecophilosophy

      This module explores the outlines of ecophilosophy and its relevance for developing intuitive perceptions of the intrinsic value of nature, for holistic human lifestyles, and for activism.

    • SCH5408 Ecopsychology

      The module examines the key tenets and ideas in ecopsychology in relation to holistic science.

    • SCH5409 Economics and Development

      This module will examine the process of development to date, providing a critique of today's dominant paradigm and models and will explore various alternative emerging development paths and strategies that are more socially just and ecologically sustainable.

    • SCH5410 Ecological Design

      This module explores the emergence of living technologies, design principles and sustainable ways of living which derive their inspiration from living systems.

    • SCH5411 Food and Agriculture

      An exploration of the principles of ecologically sound agriculture and their relevance for the creation of sustainable communities in both North and South.

    • SCH5412 Sustainable Enterprise

      This module will review different models of sustainable enterprise, both old and new, to show the plethora of alternatives to shareholder capitalism. Links will be made to the financial processes and reforms needed to support ethical and green investment in enterprises for the future.

    • SCH5413 Writing the Transition

      This module will examine the importance of the use of language, narratives and framing in communicating messages relating to sustainability and new economics, drawing on recent findings to emerge from disciplines including neuro-linguistics and psychology. It will enable students to assess their own internal frames and to experiment with different writing styles aimed at influencing different audiences for different purposes.

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements


A relevant degree with honours or an equivalent professional qualification. Other qualifications accompanied by substantial experience in an appropriate field may also be considered. Non-standard applications will be considered on a case by case basis.


Information for international students applying for a postgraduate course


Postgraduate bursaries and scholarships

Fees, costs and funding

As this course is delivered by one of our partner colleges, please contact the college directly for information on fees and funding.

How to apply

For further information and to apply for this course, please contact the college's admissions team directly using the contact details below. 

Our partnership with Schumacher College

The University of Plymouth has developed partnerships with institutions around the world with the sole purpose of making higher education more accessible to those people who need something just a little different.

Our Academic Partnerships enable students to enrol for a degree at a partnership institution closer to home, or engage in distance learning – even when they’re in the middle of the ocean. They are there for those people looking to return to education, or enhance their professional development. Full- or part-time; foundation degree to masters-level – we cater for a huge variety of needs and aspirations.

Many of our partners offer specialist degrees, unique facilities, and smaller class sizes at a competitive price. And as a student of two institutions, you get the best of both worlds; a supportive learning environment as part of a close-knit community, and a university-level qualification awarded by the University of Plymouth. You’ll enjoy not only the facilities and services your partnership institution provides, but also all of the additional support and resources you need from us, and you’ll automatically become a member of our Students’ Union, too.

We are continuing to grow the number of partner institutions and expand our academic community to new locations around the UK and overseas. Why not visit the Academic Partnerships page on our website for a full list of partners and for more details on studying with us?

One of our partners delivers this particular course – so please visit their website for full course details, entry requirements, tuition fees and information on what student life is like there. 

Programme information

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.

Find out more about the MSc programme

Studying with Schumacher College

Study with some of the biggest international names in social, economic and ecological thinking for the 21st century. Experience our radical blend of traditional and reflective learning in a communal living and working environment.

Find out more about studying at Schumacher College