Adventure Education BA (Hons)

Course code N8X9

What is special about this course?

Are you passionate about educating others while sharing your experience of the great outdoors? Join this incredible programme and work closely with Adventure Education providers, including the Outward Bound Trust®, to pursue a satisfying career as a professional adventure practitioner. 

Provide safe experiences, promoting learning to help others to discover, reflect, and develop. Use your knowledge, understanding, and skills to plan, prepare, and lead activities in potentially challenging and wild locations, while maintaining strong links to all levels of the education curriculum. Learn how to create experiences that will last a lifetime, as part of the vibrant community of outdoor enthusiasts at Fort William, the Outdoor Capital of the UK.

Special features

  • Access to outstanding adventure facilities set amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK
  • Receive tailored outdoor-activity skill development and professional NGB training and assessment with the School of Adventure Studies' 'practical credits system': continuous professional skills development throughout your degree and beyond
  • Be part of a vibrant and active diverse student community of outdoor enthusiasts, based at the School of Adventure Studies in Fort William, the hub of the Outdoor Capital of the UK
  • Live and work at the foot of Ben Nevis, in a region that is unique for its rich variety of outdoor opportunities
  • Easily transfer between adventure programmes within the School of Adventure Studies: BA (Hons) Adventure Tourism Management; BSc (Hons) Adventure Performance and Coaching; and BA (Hons) Marine and Coastal Tourism
  • Excellent links and work-placement opportunities with many adventure-based businesses and institutions in Scotland, the UK and internationally
  • Residential field trips, clubs, international expeditions and many other opportunities to enhance your skills and experience in adventure activities


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

  • 3 Scottish Highers at grade C or above OR
  • 2 A levels at grade C or above
  • You will also be expected to be able to demonstrate an interest in, and a commitment to, practical outdoor activities, and preferably have an interest in a professional career in the outdoor sector
  • Personal practical outdoor experience is advantageous but not essential
  • Applicants with other relevant qualifications and/or experience will be considered on an individual basis
  • This is a Category 1 PVG course: PVG Scheme membership is required to successfully achieve target qualification, where there is guaranteed contact with vulnerable groups in key elements of the course. For further information visit our PVG scheme webpage

Advanced entry to year two or three:

  • Direct entry to year two or three may be possible with a relevant HNC/D, foundation degree etc. Applicants will be considered on an individual basis and may be required to attend an interview

Access routes

SWAP Access courses
If you are eligible to undertake Scottish Wider Access Programmes (SWAP), please visit our SWAP access list for further information on grade profiles and available subjects.

For International students requiring Student Route sponsorship
Please note that international students with a Student Route visa can only take part in sports activities or as part of a work placement, as an amateur and not as a professional or semi-professional. You will not be allowed to become a member of a professional sports association while a student. This is due to ‘professional sportsperson’ restrictions imposed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as outlined in their Student Route Policy Guidance.

Year 1 - CertHE

Core modules are:

  • Foundations of outdoor learning (S1)
  • Adventure Geography: the Scottish perspective (S1)
  • Introduction to professional adventure practice (S1)
  • Introduction to sports coaching and leadership (S2)
  • Adventure education journeys (S2)

You will also choose one further option module:

  • Ecological principles, biodiversity and identification skills (S1 or S2)
  • Activity performance and skill acquisition (S1 or S2)
  • Adventure markets: products and services (S2)

Year 2 - DipHE

Core modules are:

  • Nature and learning (S1)
  • Social theory for adventure education (S1)
  • Adventure operations and risk management (S1)
  • Outdoor learning and teaching practice (S1 + S2)
  • Understanding adventure (S2)

You will also choose one option module which may include:

  • Work placement: team working and communication (S1 + S2)
  • Facilitation and reviewing in outdoor education (S2)
  • Technology and social media in adventure practice (S2)

Year 3 - BA

Core modules are:

  • Planning international expeditions (S1)
  • Investigation: personal and social development in adventure education (S1)
  • An anthropology of place: adventure education and cultural perspectives on nature (S2)
  • Research skills (S2)

You will also choose two option modules which may include:

  • Adventure therapy (S1)
  • Geomorphology: reading the landscapes of outdoor practice (S1)
  • Climate change (S1)
  • Work placement: industry specific skills (S1 + S2)
  • International expedition leadership (S2)

Year 4 - BA (Hons)

Core modules are:

  • Critical perspectives of adventure education (S1)
  • Perceptions of risk and decision making (S1)
  • Inclusive adventure (S2)
  • Applied adventure education practice (S2)

You will also choose one of the following double-credit research project modules to follow through the year:

  • Dissertation 
  • Professional adventure project (legacy project or major expedition venture)

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time

You will learn through a combination of face-to-face lectures and tutorials in the classroom, with some teaching by video conference from our other campuses, and online study via the university's virtual learning environment (VLE). There are also opportunities for work placements at different levels of the programme.

You will also spend a significant amount of time increasing your skills through practical, experiential learning. The main disciplines included are mountaineering and climbing, paddle sports and mountain biking, with a wide scope for progression and application of theories throughout the four years of study, through field work and industry activity.

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 4 years
  • Part-time: 8 years

Where can I study my course?

  • North, West and Hebrides

Start date

  • September


Find out more about fees, fee waivers and funding options.


UHI has a number of scholarships, bursaries, awards, and discretionary fund opportunities available to new and current students. Please use the A-Z of funds or use the filter to see which ones may be relevant to you. All students are welcome to apply.

Further information on funding your studies is also available, please see the attached link or contact the relevant UHI partner.

Additional costs

Personal Outdoor Equipment and Clothing
All essential personal protective equipment (PPE) and specialist equipment can be accessed from our comprehensive stores, but students will need to purchase their own personal clothing, waterproofs and footwear for most activities (with the exception of very specialised footwear such as winter boots). As a professional practitioner you are also expected to consider purchasing your own personal equipment as your involvement and skills grow. Excellent deals on prices from a range of suppliers are available for students.

Module costs
Introduction to Sports Coaching and Leadership (core, year 1): this includes an opportunity to complete training for a UK National Governing Body qualification in climbing, paddlesports or mountain biking.  The course is free of charge but you will need to pay for your own membership and registration fees with the relevant NGB.  This cost can range from approximately £50-£100, depending on the NGB.

Adventure Education Journeys (optional, year 1): there is a mandatory residential experience in this module at Outward Bound Loch Eil, costing approximately £80 for 3 days full-board. This cost is 50% subsidised by the School of Adventure Studies.

International Expedition Leadership (optional year 3): this involves undertaking an international expedition, which is subsidised by UHI West Highland. Depending on the specific plan, you should budget for up to £1000.  There may be opportunities to gain funds to support this expedition through grant funding sources or sponsorship, which would be your responsibility to obtain.

What can I do on completion of my course?

With a degree in Adventure Education you will hold a valuable array of knowledge and skills that are transferable to any of the various aspects of the UK or international adventure sector. The specific pathway you take will be vital in helping you shape your own chosen career. Adventure Education covers a wide range of career pathways and specialist fields, including:

  • Outdoor centres; schools; educational expedition operators; adventure therapy; criminal justice rehabilitation
  • Countryside ranger and environmental interpretation
  • International expeditions
  • Working in adult education
  • Management and business development training
  • Leadership and management roles in activity organisations
  • Postgraduate teaching qualifications

Your career will grow and change as the years go on, and you may progress into any one of a range of exciting areas, so you may also find yourself involved in:

  • Guiding, coaching and instructing in adventurous activities
  • Adventure tourism
  • Marine wildlife tourism
  • Military or emergency services
  • Higher level adventure sector leadership - shaping future policy and practice

Can I progress into further study?

On successful completion of the BA (Hons) Adventure Education you can progress onto the following postgraduate courses:

Is there more information available online?

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I have certainly enjoyed my time in Fort William. The college is really small which means you get to have a great relationship with your lecturers and the lectures feel more like a dialogue than just having someone talk at you. The natural surroundings are fantastic and the many practicals we did in first year were really valuable as a way of getting to sample the different outdoor sports. There are so many opportunities at SOAS, you just have to be self-organised and pursue them. I enjoy living in a small town where I know many people and have constant access to such beautiful and spectacular surroundings, excellent mountain biking and hillwalking right on my doorstep. This degree has allowed me to test my intellect and ponder philosophical questions about the natural world and humanity's relationship to it, that I would undoubtedly never have thought about otherwise. It has honed my ability to think critically and to question things. 

Matilda Olai graduated from the BA (Hons) Adventure Education at UHI West Highland.

I left school nine years ago and became a chef, I worked and travelled. Whilst travelling, I would spend most days up hills or in the water, and I realised I wanted to find a way to make this my normality. I have always had strong opinions on the importance of outdoor education so this course felt like it was made for me.

So far, it has been everything I hoped for. I got the chance to do expeditions and water based NGB awards. The knowledge I gained that year allowed me to work as a Trip Leader in America over the summer. Going on expeditions with the children at this camp really confirmed my choice to study Adventure Education and how much I agree with what is being taught.

Alongside academic study, I am now working towards my Canoe Award, Canoe Leader and SUP Leader then hopefully Paddlesports Touring Leader and Raft Guide. I'd also love to gain some qualifications in bush craft before finishing my degree.

Katy Duncan is studying the BA (Hons) Adventure Education at UHI West Highland.

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Questions about this course?

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Questions about this course?


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  • Applications to this course are now closed for September 2023 entry. Applications for September 2024 will open in September 2023. Please revisit this page then to apply.

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