Learning Across the Curriculum: On Foot through Edinburgh

Experience how outdoor learning can enhance education

Outdoor Education Simon Beames from Summer School UoE on Vimeo.

Simon Beames explains the summer course Learning Across the Curriculum: On Foot through Edinburgh.

Learning Across the Curriculum offers aspiring educators of all kinds the tools to incorporate outdoor learning into their teaching and curriculum planning.

Despite the increasing bodies of research and policy that highlight the educational, social, and health benefits of outdoor learning in the development of young people, many educators are not well placed to support this form of learning.

Taking a multi-disciplinary approach, Learning Across the Curriculum is designed to give you the tools with which to teach and learn across the curriculum in an outdoor context. It will provide you with an initial step towards incorporating outdoor learning into your current or future teaching career. The course does not aim to train you as an outdoor specialist, but aims to provide some understanding of the benefits, processes, and skills related to learning in the outdoors.

Through practical exercises in curriculum planning and teaching in outdoor contexts, you will have the chance to experience outdoor education in context and assess the impact on your learning.  The course will involve exploring the richly-storied human and ecological landscape that is Edinburgh’s Water of Leith. Aspects of the course content are driven by students’ unfolding curiosity about the history, geography, mathematics, and science that they encounter on their journeys through Edinburgh.

In terms of educational policy, the course reflects the recommendations of Curriculum for Excellence through Outdoor Learning (Education Scotland, 2010). The ways in which theory and policy inform practice is a dominant theme of the course and reflects both in the theory and practical teaching of the course.  

The University of Edinburgh also offers a suite of MSc programmes in Outdoor Education.


Course format

A variety of teaching and learning approaches will be used, including lectures, discussion seminars, workshop tasks, and outdoor activities.

Students will spend a considerable amount of time learning, exploring, and teaching outdoors in both built-up areas and green-space, investigating the landscape of the Water of Leith and its human and environmental impact. Appropriate clothing and footwear is crucial.

Students will be expected to complete relevant readings and assignment tasks in their own study time.


  • Educational pamphlet (30%): Design and produce a 2-page educational pamphlet on one educational aspect on the Water of Leith (1000 words equivalent)
  • Outdoor teaching session (30%): In pairs, plan, facilitate and evaluate a short outdoor lesson (with lesson plan and risk management plan; 1000 words equivalent)
  • Essay (40%): Complete an academic paper outlining the theoretical underpinning of the lesson and a critical reflection on the teaching performance (1500 words). 

An opportunity for formative feed-forward is provided through a tutorial where students can, with the course tutor and classmates, discuss their idea for their teaching session, pamphlet and assignment.


Course Organisers

Rebecca Peacock is a primary school teacher who has worked with children from a wide range of backgrounds both in Scotland and internationally. She has a keen interest in the natural world and interactions within the environment. She returned to Scotland to complete the MSc in Outdoor Education at the University of Edinburgh and has since rejoined the teaching profession, working in a local school in Midlothian. Rebecca is endeavouring to infect others with her passion and encourage other educators to work towards embedding outdoor learning within their day to day teaching.





Dr. Simon Beames has been a lecturer at the Moray House School of Education since 2005.  After graduating from Canada’s McMaster University, he spent most of the 1990s getting teenagers lost in North America and Asia – ostensibly for their personal and social development.  Simon was then lured into the ivory tower, where ever since he has conducted research on educational expeditions and learning outside the classroom -- while developing a penchant for using social theory to examine outdoor education practice. Simon created the Outdoor Journeys programme -- a cross-curricular, local outdoor learning pedagogy – and is currently working on his fourth book, which examines the relationship between adventure and education. 



By completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand of the broad concepts that underpin curricular outdoor learning
  • Experience which outdoor learning can be used in education
  • Assess the ways in which Curriculum for Excellence and outdoor learning may inform each other
  • Explain principles of experiential learning for teaching young people in outdoor (and indoor) contexts, and those behind place and community-based education
  • Show an awareness of safety issues pertinent to teaching and learning within groups of young people in outdoor settings
  • Understand educational issues relating to outdoor learning and its interdisciplinary applications
  • Search for, evaluate and use information to develop their knowledge and understanding
  • Appreciate new ideas, methods and ways of thinking
  • Take responsibility for their own learning, and are committed to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement
  • Sustain intellectual interest and be academically curious
  • Make effective use of oral, written, and visual means to critique, negotiate, create, and communicate understanding
  • Flexibly transfer their knowledge, learning, skills, and abilities from one context to another

A number of fee packages are available for the Summer School. Full fee information can be found on the Fees page.

All fee packages include tuition costs, the social programme, and your chosen accommodation type. Full information on our accommodation options can be found here.

Costs are provided per week. To calculate your total cost, select your package type, then multiply this cost by the number of weeks in your course.

e.g. A student selecting a Silver package for a 4-week course in July would calculate:

£757 x 4 weeks = £3028

To secure your place at the Summer School, you will be required to pay a deposit of £250 which can be reclaimed towards your fee package. This includes a non-refundable £50 application fee.

Please note that study in the UK may incur additional costs e.g. visa application fees.

If you submit your application and deposit before 31 January 2017, you can claim our special early bird rate. We also offer a range of special rates for students at our valued partner institutions. Please see our Fees page for more details.