Pictures of Findhorn residential with MSc Sustainable Community Design - Click on the images to view the larger images

Findhorn residential within MSc Sustainable Community Design

in partnership with

The School for the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

course structure Start dates Study modes Findhorn modules

MSc course aims

The aim of the course is to provide graduates from a wide range of backgrounds and educational experience with multidisciplinary knowledge and skills in aspects of ecologically sound settlement design.
This will vary from planning and community themes to construction and building performance issues. There will be specific focus on tailoring the course for an individual’s interests through a framework of optional courses within a wider worldview approach.

See also

MSc Course Healing Through Art Painting

MSc course structure 

Year 1 Mandatory Courses
Semester 1 Environmental Studies and Sustainability in Civil Engineering
Semester 2

Ecovillage Practice and Community Design Practice (includes 3 week residential block at the Findhorn Ecovillage, taught by Findhorn College staff)

Year 2  
Semester 1 (mandatory) Low Carbon Buildings
One option from the following Behavioural Studies
Environmental Hydrology & Water Resources
People & Organisational Management in the Built Environment 
International Planning & Property Law
Ventilation & Air Conditioning
Semester 2  
Two options from the following

Building Energy Management 
Environmental Impact Assessment
Lighting & Architecture
Real Estate Development
Space Planning and Management
Urban Drainage Design and Analysis
Water and Wastewater Treatment

Group of 2011 participants share their experience of
Findhorn residential in this short film.

MSc Starting Dates

September  (optional intake January)
Findhorn modules – 3 week residential block in April

Study Modes 

MSc Full-time (1 year)   Part-time taught (2 years) Distance learning (2-3 years)
Findhorn courses on a stand alone basis – please see pdf and contact us if you are interested in this option

Findhorn residential course details

As well as learning about cutting edge theory and practice in sustainable community design, participants will also gain valuable first hand experience of various aspects of the Findhorn Ecovillage as a community-scale experiment in sustainable living in practice.

In 2014, the modules will take place between 29 March - 18 April.

The three-week residential intensive at the Findhorn ecovillage contains two courses:

Ecovillage Practice

During the first 10 days participants will be introduced to ecological and carbon footprinting, and study the Findhorn ecovillage as the community with the lowest recorded ecological footprint in the developed world. In addition to a general introduction to the Findhorn ecovillage community and its history, participants will gain first hand experience of integrated community design and applications of low and zero carbon technologies (LZCT).

MSc Course MSc Course

A series of presentations and seminars will explore Findhorn’s role within international and national sustainable development (the Moray bioregion, the UNITAR Training Centre CIFAL Findhorn, the Global Ecovillage Network, Gaia Education, the Findhorn College, UN Habitat Best Practice Award, the work of Findhorn-based consultancy services).

The course will facilitate increased cohesion and collaboration among the participants in the MSc cohort through community building exercises and group work. It will include a tour of and introduction to the Findhorn community owned windpark (technical, legal, economic, and social aspects), the community owned living machine and other ecological sewage treatment options, and ecovillage infrastructure in general with its diverse examples of zero and low-carbon housing.

The ecovillage offers many examples of low and zero carbon technologies (passive solar, PV, ground-source heat pumps, CHP, woodchip and pellets, hyper-insulation, etc). The course will introduce methods for facilitating community participation and transdisciplinary collaboration (brief introduction to NVC, process work, conflict resolution, community visioning & design charrettes, decision-making processes, etc).

Participation in community activities will offer participants a unique learning environment within the Findhorn ecovillage as a long-running socio-ecological experiment in applied sustainability.

Community Design Practice

Mornings will be spent in lectures and tutorials to explore various sets of sustainable design principles (ecological design, deep design, permaculture design, design for sustainability). Zero Carbon Housing standards will be reviewed and (present and future legislation and trends) and participants given first hand experience of integrated community design and applications of low and zero carbon technologies (LZCT). A whole systems approach will be introduced through a more detailed investigation of the four dimensions of integrated sustainable community design (social, ecological, economic, and worldview). This approach will explore how synergies and interconnections between these dimensions can be designed-in and facilitated.

MSc Course

The course will improve collaborative skills among the participants in the MSc cohort through community building exercises and group design challenges. It will engage participants in a community based future state visioning exercise and team-based exercises in integrated community design, and give participants access to practitioners in the field (architects, consultants, planners, builders, ecological engineers, renewable energy engineers). A three-day intensive on systems thinking in the context of sustainable community design will introduce participants to a range of new design and facilitation tools.

Other topics that will be addressed during this residential intensive include a review of aims and objectives of integrated sustainable community design and zero carbon housing, and practice of their application. Case studies include: Co-housing projects around the world; ecovillages and sustainable community projects around the world; individual low and zero carbon houses at the Findhorn ecovillage (strawbale, timber breathing wall, etc); ecological sewage treatment projects (living machines, feed-back reactors, constructed wetlands, floating restorers, etc), a case study of the “Carbon Neutral Island Project” developed by Alex Walker Associates for HIE Moray; Industrial Ecology ( Exploring the Potential for a Moray Eco-Industrial Park) and more.

As part of the Findhorn College’s whole person learning approach participants will have the opportunity to participate in community activities in order to gain a deeper insight into the workings of the Findhorn ecovillage as a laboratory of sustainable community design.

Further information:

Findhorn College or 01309 690806
Heriot-Watt University

Findhorn  College
Findhorn Foundation College, St Leonard's Rd, Forres, Morayshire, Scotland, IV36 2RD, Scotland