- Join our learning community rooted in an ecological and systemic approach
- Develop your practical knowledge and understanding of regenerative agricultural systems
- Draw from the rich tapestry of local sustainable food producers of Dartington and Devon
MSc: 1 year FT, 2 years PT.
Other routes are available, including online options – see ‘Learning Pathways’
start date: January
full Term dates
Term 1: 10 Jan – 1 Apr 2022
Term 2: 25 Apr – 1 Jul 2022
Term 3 (final disseration/major project): 11 Jul – 21 Oct 2022
onsite teaching weeks
3–7 January 2022: Welcome Week
10–21 January 2022: Module 1 Teaching Weeks
21 February–4 March 2022: Module 2 Teaching Weeks
4–15 April 2022: Module 3 Teaching Weeks
16–27 May 2022: Module 4 Teaching Weeks
next application deadline
21 October 2021
Our degree programmes are designed to suit the complexities of modern life, allowing you to live where you live and work where you work, whilst studying the subject you are passionate about as a member of our wide-reaching learning community.
Some qualifications are offered part-time – these are indicated below.
Master's of Sciences (ft/pt; 180 credits)
A low-residency programme with 4 x 30-credit modules and 1 x 60-credit Dissertation or Major Project module.
The course is available full time over one year (UK, EU or international students) or part time over two years (UK students only).
Postgraduate Diploma (ft/pt; 120 credits)
A full-time (1 year) or part-time programme (2 years, UK students only) with 4 x 30 credit modules. Students taking the full-time option will study all four modules during the first two terms. For full details on part-time pathways, please contact us.
Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits)
A full-time programme with 2 x 30 credit modules. Students will study both modules during term one.
First module only (30 credits)
Modules from this course can be studied on a standalone basis, with 30 credits allocated per module.
To apply for the accredited single module option, apply in the usual way, selecting the ‘single module’ option during the application process.
All options for this course are offered on a low-residency model, and are also available online-only. Please ensure you select the online-only option during your application as required.
This radical new course is designed to help you develop your knowledge and understanding of resilient human-scale food systems and learn the skills needed to design, influence or develop resilient, productive food-based networks and businesses of your own. With an ecological and systemic approach, you will carve out a path towards making a positive contribution to the food economy.
Food production systems at present are ruining the planet and our health, enriching markets rather than the soil. “Regenerative” means to bring more to live ecologically and economically. Food and farming are major contributors to global warming change, when they could be contributing towards mitigating it. There is also a serious depletion of our most valuable resource: soils. This significant new programme will help you find new ways of thinking and doing, that can help encourage ecological systems to improve farm and food procuction for the benefit of people and the planet.
Regenerative Food, Farming and Enterprise is concerned with the growth of resilient human-scale food systems through inspiring, skilling and supporting a new generation of growers, entrepreneurs, organisations and activists.
It will help you develop your knowledge and understanding of regenerative agricultural systems based on biological and ecological processes and food production that addresses social, ecological and economic challenges. You will learn the skills needed to design, influence or develop food networks and food-based businesses that are both resilient and productive, and you will have the opportunity to study agriculture and food production in a deeply interdisciplinary environment that promotes debate and innovation with an emphasis on exploring current debates around food futures.
The challenges facing society that this programme will address include:
- the multiple challenges that the food system currently faces – climate change, escalating fossil fuel and food prices, food insecurity, soil degradation, biodiversity loss, global poverty and inequality – and their systemic links to the current economic model;
- growing disillusionment with the dominance of mainstream food production approaches and solutions;
- opportunities for new ecological and biological approaches to intensifying food production with an emphasis on ecosystem and human health.
The programme is rooted in an ecological and systemic approach within the holistic learning model of Schumacher College that attracts students and visiting teachers from all over the world. It explores the frontiers of new thinking and practices in Horticulture that together form a globally diverse effort to build resilient, sustainable and healthy food systems.
Schumacher College attracts people from all walks of life from across the globe – from growers and entrepreneurs to policymakers and social and environmental activists. This programme is designed to support a new generation of growers, leaders and activists to co-create the new food economy. It will be attractive to people at different stages in their life seeking to make a positive contribution to the food economy through enhancing their knowledge; acquiring practical skills; and sharing experiences with people from a diversity of regions.
programme structure & modules
Module 1: Soil Health (30 credits)
This module explores how regenerative practices bring soils more alive and how improved soil health can help food and farm enterprises. It demonstrates how improving the biodiversity of plants, fungi, fauna, and microorganisms can produce healthier soil structures, which in turn benefit cycles of water, nutrients and carbon that reduce erosion and improve carbon sequestration. The module uses scientific methods to evaluate improvements to soil health and other impacts.
- To find out how to regenerate soil food webs, consisting of flora, fauna (macro and meso), fungi, and microorganisms, so as to improve soil functions.
- To demonstrate the importance of soil health in crop growth, animal welfare, water holding and healthier diets.
- To demonstrate how increasing the biodiversity of life in soils helps drive biogeochemical processes that make life on earth possible.
- To recognise the role soil ecology plays in water, carbon and nutrient cycles that can enhance the wider environment
- To investigate scientifically how the key regenerative principles can improve soil health in practice.
Module 2: Food Systems to capture Carbon (30 credits)
This module investigates a number of regenerative practices from around the world and how they have been installed locally. It explores current state of soils in the world, Europe and the UK and the possible consequences for societies, economies, food production and land use. It examines how those adopting regenerative practices could be rewarded for their contribution to mitigating climate change. A range of practical sessions, in various contexts will enhance the understanding of implementation of regenerative land use practices.
- To investigate various examples of regenerative practices from around the world.
- To assess the state of soil health in the UK and throughout the world.
- To demonstrate the limitations of ‘free markets’ approach to improve soil health.
- To seek opportunities, particularly relating to climate change mitigation that will enhance soil capital.
- To develop field methods of measuring improvements to soil health, and how that may help ‘count carbon’.
Module 3: New Food Economy (30 credits)
This module identifies new local growing food economies based on regenerative farming that provide a more resilient and sustainable food system. These food economies pose a challenge to existing dysfunctional food systems. More diverse production and consumption will stimulate increased innovation that promotes healthier diets, more seasonal food, more locally adapted crops and livestock and shorter supply chains. Funding, either public or private, will be difficult, but essential, so all options will be explored.
- To analyse the highly politicised food system throughout the world, and the UK’s role, that delivers underpriced food to the underpaid.
- To identify possible public or private funding that can help introduce innovative approaches that steward soil, water, biodiversity and emissions and enhance nutrition and human health.
- To examine regenerative food & farm practices from all over the world that have successfully regenerated local economies.
- To link regenerative approaches on the farm more directly with new marketing systems that establish local ‘food’ economies, which are more diverse, resilient and sustainable.
- To demonstrate how circular economies enhance ecosystems by minimising waste, promoting healthy diets and delivering better services to the local community.
Module 4: Food, Farming, and Enterprises (30 credits)
This module examines the design and development of a food/farm-based enterprise. It will raise the profile of local foods and show how value can be added when regenerative production systems are adopted. It will show how the value of natural land based assets can be enhanced. The module will highlight opportunities to invest and diversify. It will examine different types of enterprises, the role of market research, and new ways of networking. It will explain why in the UK the adoption of regenerative farming is a farmer led activity. This module runs concurrent with module 3.
- To identify the economic and political feasibility of regenerative enterprises, and barriers to investment.
- To develop an understanding of the structure and content of ‘new’ enterprises, and their application to local and food production systems further afield.
- To use a whole systems approach to build linkages among social (community), ecological, and commercial domains.
- To examine various models of enterprises, including co-operatives, other marketing systems new networks, and how they can be researched.
- To find funding sources that can help invest in your enterprise.
Module 5: Dissertation or Final Project (60 credits)
This module encourages students to demonstrate their capacity for independent study by applying their knowledge of regenerative practices to a topic appropriate to the degree, such as consultancy tools, nutrition measurement, local food policies, research topics and consumer choices. Students are expected to submit their plans, practices and policies into present political context, and a wider philosophy about how we treat our earth.
- To provide an opportunity for the student to pursue in depth a topic of their own choosing.
- To develop the skills and confidence necessary to carry out original research.
- To explore statistical design and analysis of experiments to enable assessment of results.
- To determine possible uptake of any positive results within the surrounding political economy of the food system
- To propose suggestions recognising philosophies that address the relation between humans and earth.
Qualification(s) required for entry to the MSc
BA/BSc (Honours) Degree A first degree
Where the first degree is not a 2.1, or in an unrelated subject, further support of the application or experience may be required.
Other non-standard awards or experience
A willingness engage with the field of Sustainable Farming & Enterprise. Candidates will be considered with prior credited learning and prior experiences subject to interview.*
All applicants are required to attend an interview, either at the College or online. During the interview we will look for: evidence of intellectual clarity during interview; a clearly formulated purpose for taking the course; focused interests and a clear understanding of the ethos and philosophy of the College; readiness and ability to live and work in a communal setting.
If you do not hold the required A-Level or equivalent Level 3 qualifications
In this instance, you may be asked to complete our Agricultural Biosciences Foundation Course. The course is two weeks long and costs £200. You may book and pay for this course here.
For further information please contact our admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Nathan Einbinder
Nathan is course lead for Regenerative Food and Farming programmes. Before arriving at Schumacher, Nathan taught geography at San Diego State University and the University of Northern British Columbia.
In addition to teaching, he worked as a consultant for international organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, where he conducted research on regenerative soil management and its connection to socio-ecological resilience in Central America.
Nathan has said that he is eager to bring his experiences to Schumacher College to inspire students and relate the principles and values of Indigenous agroecology to the UK context. He is also excited to put into practice his background and commitment to experiential education, to help train the next generation of change-makers and regenerative food and farming professionals.
Charlie teaches on our Regenerative Food, Farming and Enterprise programme. He is an expert on soil health, and how soil life is crucial to healthy ecosystems.
After a long gap, campaigning for better food systems, he realised that soil should have more prominence in climate crisis debates. He believes we need to see soil more as a whole, rather than just carbon molecules, with a rich mix of life, including worms, nematodes, fungi bacteria and lots of little arthropods working together to create underground cities. He set up a website www.soilanimals.com, exploring the role of soil animals in the state of soils, from where BBC Gardeners World did a feature on him with his homemade sampling systems. There he showed how springtails act like both the birds and the bees of soils in spreading fungi and bacteria. Currently he is writing a book on the evolution of soil - when and how it came about.
latest news & blogs
An interview with Dr Nathan Einbinder, who we’re pleased to say is the new lead on regenerative food and farming programmes here at Schumacher College.
Schumacher College and Dartington School of Arts are increasing financial support for students from less well-off backgrounds who want to study at the colleges.