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Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate

A unique course distance learning course on environmental sustainability.

Environmental Sustainability has gone beyond being a concern, to becoming a substantial and growing international industry, supplying products and services that contribute toward the overall sustainability of both human life and the global environment which we are so dependent upon.

The course comprises 6 modules:

  • Study 4 Core Modules: Alternative Energy, Introduction To Ecology, Permaculture Systems, Water Conservation And Management.
  • Select 2 Elective Modules from: Carpentry, Mud Brick Construction, Healthy Buildings I (Building Construction And Health), Sustainable Agriculture, Healthy Buildings II (Building Environment And Health).

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Understand and Manage Sustainable Environments.

Sustainability experts are likely to be in high demand over coming decades as available resources become increasingly scarce and the effects of environmental degradation reach critical mass in some parts of the world. 

Students who study this course benefit from the unique blend of disciplines that will provide them with the skills necessary to work in the field of environmental sustainability. This course provides a foundation in environmental ecology and conservation as well as an understanding of sustainability in relation to water, agriculture, development and energy. 

Environmental Sustainability has become a major concern in recent decades, now being a guiding principle for government, business, industry and individuals all over the world. The term 'Ecologically Sustainable Development' has been coined to represent the concept of making use of our environment in a way that allows us to meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability experts are thus likely to be in high demand over coming decades as resources become increasingly scarce and the need to manage the effects of environmental degradation increases.

The course was developed by experts in the field -

John Mason ACS Principal and author of Sustainable Agriculture (published by Landlinks Press).

Dr Robert Browne - Expert in wildlife sustainability and biodiversity.

Maggi Brown - Education officer for HDRA (Garden Organic) in the UK for 20 years.

Peter Douglas - Internationally renowned Koala expert and wildlife park manager.

From time to time, governments, academics and industry bodies develop policies or approaches to solve the “sustainability” issue. Most informed people recognise its importance, and support the need for action; however, getting a consensus approach and implementing it, is often a more difficult thing.More often than not, the most effective approach depends more upon the action of individuals, rather than that of academics and policy makers. Policy can however still contribute. as it can stimulate action from interested groups to present a combined approach.

Environmental change is inevitable. The speed of change and impact that changes have though can vary. Through awareness, creative planning and timely action, we can reduce the "shock" impacts that result from environmental change; and sustain a better quality of environment.

To complete the course you are required to complete six 100 hour modules. There are four core modules. You then choose two elective modules.

Click on the links below for more information on each module. Each of the modules mentioned can also be studied as a standalone course.

Core Modules

These modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Environmental Sustainability.


Alternative Energy VSS102


Introduction to Ecology BEN101


Permaculture Systems BHT201


Water Conservation And Management BEN302


Elective Modules

In addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 5 modules.


Carpentry BSS100


Mud Brick Construction ASS103


Healthy Buildings I (Building Construction & Health) BSS200


Sustainable Agriculture BAG215


Healthy Buildings II (Building Environment & Health) BSS300

Lesson Outlines of Selected Modules 

Introduction to Ecology BEN101

1. Ecosystems & Populations

  • Components of an ecosystem
  • Biomes
  • Detrital and grazing webs
  • Trophic levels within a food web
  • Energy flow through an ecosystem

2. The Development of Life

  • Life spans
  • Natural selection
  • Genetics
  • Theories of evolution

3. Animals, Parasites and Endangered Species

  • Comparitive anatomy
  • Animal niches within an ecosystem
  • Parasites
  • Animal and human interactions and coexistence

4. Fungi, Tundra, Rainforests and Marshlands

  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Classification
  • Ecology
  • Location
  • Climate

5. Mountains, Rivers and Desert

  • Formation e.g. erosion, volcanic formation of mountains
  • Ecology
  • Importance

6. Shallow Waters

  • Shore lines
  • Coral reefs
  • Intermediate reefs
  • Estuaries
  • Sandy shores

7. Ecological Problems

  • Global Warming
  • The Role of the Ozone Layer
  • The effects of Poisons and Waste Materials


Sustainable Agriculture BAG215

1. Introduction

  • Scope
  • Nature of Sustainability
  • Whole Farming
  • Hydroponics

2. Soil

  • Soil Quality
  • Growing Media
  • Problems with Soils
  • Water Erosion
  • Wind Erosion
  • Salinity
  • Soil Acidification

3. Water

  • Water Storage
  • Livestock Requirements
  • Water Quality
  • Water Saving Measures
  • Recycling Water
  • Swales and Keylines

4. Land Care

  • Weeds
  • Weed Control
  • Grazing
  • Tree Management
  • Plantations
  • Windbreaks

5. Financial Sustainability

  • Economic Principles
  • Scale of Economics
  • Financial Planning
  • Value Adding
  • Financial Records

6. Broad Management Strategies

  • Towards better planning
  • Analysing the Marketplace and Industry
  • Production

7. Enterprise Selection & Management: Plants

  • Crop Management
  • Hay and Silage
  • Considering New Crops
  • Site Preparation
  • Production

8. Enterprise Selection & Management: Animals

  • Choosing the right species eg. deer, alpacas, goats, emu
  • Aquaculture
  • Intensive Production


Water Conservation and Management BEN302

1. Introduction to Water Conservation

  • The water cycle
  • Effective rainfall
  • Evaporation
  • Importance of water
  • Water sources and storage
  • Water uses
  • Water conservation

2. Water Conservation at Home

  • In Australia, UK and US
  • How we can save water at home
  • Water saving equipment

3. Water Conservation in the Workplace

  • General principles
  • Implementing water saving strategies
  • Appliances for saving water
  • Waterwise industry
  • Waterwise workplace

4. Water Management

  • Maintaining water quality
  • Salinity
  • Chemical contamination
  • Controlling use and quality of water
  • Testing water quality
  • Minimising water loss
  • Water audits
  • Water management plans

5. Water conservation in Primary Production I

  • Strategies for water conservation
  • Water saving measures
  • Waterwise landscaping
  • Waterwise irrigation systems
  • Equipments, structures and tools to save water

6. Water conservation in Primary Production 2

  • Use of water in primary production
  • Methods of water storage
  • Rainwater collection and storage
  • Bore water
  • Farm dams
  • Farm water requirements
  • Contamination and disposal of water
  • Reduce/reuse/recycle
  • Irrigation system design
  • Surface/flood irrigation
  • Sprinkler irrigation
  • Swales and keylines
  • Maintenance procedures and scheduling

7. Water conservation in the Services Industry

  • Use of water in service industry
  • Contamination and disposal of water
  • Reduce/reuse/recycle
  • Technologies available

8. Water conservation and Health

  • Water use in the Health Industry
  • Laboratories, Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Clinics, Research
  • Characteristics of water use in health industry
  • Water efficiency

9. Water conservation in other industry sectors

  • Use of water in manufacturing, construction and heavy industries
  • Examples of water use including cooling towers, ponds, dust control
  • Cleaner production
  • Benefits of cleaner production

10. Water Treatment, Reuse and Recycling

  • Water sanitation
  • Water reuse and recycling
  • Wastewater and sewage treatment
  • Classification and composition of wastewater
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Constructed wetlands
  • Plants for wetlands
  • Treating saline water
  • Tastes and odours


Permaculture Systems BHT201

1. Permaculture Principles

  • Nature and scope
  • Function
  • Diversity
  • Sustainability
  • Organics
  • Composting
  • Crop rotation
  • Pests and disease prevention and management

2. Design Principles

  • Ecosystems
  • Abiotic and biotic components
  • Understanding climate
  • Minimising water needs
  • Irrigation
  • Arid landscapes
  • Rainfall
  • Succession

3. Zone and Sector Planning

  • Five standard zones
  • Landscape profiles
  • Site selection
  • Pre-planning
  • Concept design
  • Recording site and locality details

4. Permaculture Techniques

  • Forests and Trees
  • Establishment
  • Fire-resistant plants
  • Water body design
  • Water containment

5. Animals in Permaculture

  • Location for animals
  • Functions of animals in permaculture systems
  • Bees, poultry, pigs and cattle
  • Grazing animals
  • Fencing
  • Water supply for animals
  • Shelter for animals
  • Birds
  • Aquaculture - scope, production systems, species and management
  • Harvesting fish

6. Plants in Permaculture

  • Growing organic vegetables
  • Physical characteristics of soil
  • Chemical characteristics of soil
  • Soil nutrition and fertilisation
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Identifying nutrient deficiencies
  • Mulch types
  • Weed management
  • Plant culture
  • Pest and disease management

7. Appropriate Techniques

  • Solar energy
  • Wind energy
  • Methane
  • Biofuel power
  • Composting toilets
  • Energy efficient housing
  • Living fences
  • Water recycling
  • Alternative energy and management
  • Waste disposal
  • Biological filtration systems
  • Waste water
  • Conservation and recycling
  • Solar energy
  • Solar greenhouses

8. Preparing a plan

  • Scope, nature and methods
  • Designing for natural disasters
  • Drawing a plan
  • Developing the final design


Healthy Buildings I (Building Construction and Health) BSS200

1. Introduction to Building Biology

  • Building Biology
  • Environmental considerations when building
  • Clean interiors
  • Attitudes and trends towards building biology

2. Building Materials

  • Dangerous building materials
  • Asbestos
  • Paints and finishes
  • Cladding, timber, weatherboard
  • Health concerns with initial installation

3. Construction

  • Roofs
  • Floors
  • Pests in Buildings
  • Hygiene
  • Building design factors

4. Services

  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Waste Disposal
  • Temperature Control

5. Temperature: Heating and Cooling

  • Heating and Cooling methods
  • Energy conservation
  • Solar energy
  • Impact of building design on interior building temperature

6. The Internal Environment: Ventilation

  • Air Filtration
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Interior Ventilation Characteristics
  • Health Impacts of Air Conditioning

7. Light

  • Internal light in buildings
  • Natural light
  • Combustion systems
  • Electric Lights
  • Location of light sources
  • Impact of building design on interior light

8. Acoustics

  • Impact of construction on how noise is absorbed
  • Echo and Clarity
  • Management of noise in buildings

9. Ergonomic Considerations

  • Relationship between human body and surroundings
  • Ergonomics
  • How ergonomics impact productivity

10. Psychological Considerations

  • Psychological Considerations of building design
  • Colour
  • Psychology of building interiors


Alternative Energy VSS102

1. Introduction: The Problems and the Energy Sources

  • Scope and Nature
  • Terminology
  • Energy consumption throughout history
  • Climate Change
  • Energy units
  • Problems with Fossil Fuels
  • Problems with other energy sources

2. Understanding Energy

  • Terminology
  • Understanding Electricity
  • Conductors and Non-conductors
  • Measuring Electricity
  • Ohm's Law
  • Kirchoffs Law
  • Circuits
  • Power
  • Magnetism
  • Electromagnetism and Solenoids
  • Inductors
  • Lenz's Law

3. Generating Electricity

  • Turbines
  • Generators
  • Fuel Cells
  • Solar Energy
  • Positioning Solar Cells
  • Small scale Solar
  • Future developments in Solar
  • Wind Power
  • Large and Small Scale Wind System Design
  • Geothermal energy
  • Steam Power Plants - dry and flash
  • Binary Cycle Power Plants
  • Hydropower
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Tide and Current power
  • Tide barage and turbines
  • Wave power
  • Nuclear energy
  • Fission reactors
  • Fusion
  • Half lives and radioactivity
  • Waste to energy

4. Storage and Use of Electricity

  • Terminology
  • Cells
  • Batteries and their requirements
  • Inverters
  • Alternators and regulators
  • Converters
  • System types
  • EMR and Electricity Use
  • Recommended Exposure Limits
  • Safety with Electricity

5. Non-electric Systems

  • Passive solar
  • Fire wood
  • Creosate formation
  • Biofuels
  • Ethanol
  • Passive solar energy
  • Solar hot water
  • Greenhouses
  • Night insulation

6. Energy Consumption

  • Pricing
  • Population growth
  • Large scale reduction of energy consumption

7. Energy Conservation

  • Reducing energy consumption in the home
  • Temperature control
  • Minimising light energy consumption
  • Minimising appliance energy consumption
  • Insulation
  • Water conservation
  • Solar house design

8. Converting to Alternative Systems

  • Estimating energy needs
  • Building efficiency
  • System design
  • System designers

What Can You Do?

Everyone can contribute toward environmental sustainability -if they know how, and are motivated to do so. This course will improve both your knowledge and motivation.

Start by Composting

We all produce waste. The things you do with waste will impact upon sustainability. Recycling waste can improve environmental sustainability, and there is no better example of that than composting.

Compost is indeed the powerhouse that improves soils and in turn powers the growth of plants. It is particularly valuable in organic growing where chemical fertilisers are not used. Its benefits cannot be underestimated:

  • It improves soil structure in all types of soil.
  • It provides slow release nutrients for plants to use when required.
  • It increases the level of soil micro-organisms exponentially.
  • Composted soils produce plants more resistant to pest and disease attack.
  • Compost making is an environmentally sustainable method of recycling ‘waste’ material.
  • Home-made compost is effectively cost-free.
What can be composted?

Any organic material, if left long enough, will eventually rot down due to the action of micro organisms.  Composting harnesses and maximises this process; speeding up the rate of decomposition, and minimizing nutrient losses. 

The raw material for good compost making is a mixture of organic materials:

  • lawn clippings
  • weeds
  • leaves
  • paper/cardboard waste
  • seaweed
  • pruning material
  • plant debris
  • straw
  • manure
  • pre-meal kitchen waste

Animal manures (sheep, cattle, poultry and horse) are a good addition in a compost heap. Compost for a minimum of six weeks to prevent burning of leaves and roots; fresh manure has high levels of ammonium (which can burn plants). Ammonium is rapidly lost during composting.

Opportunities to Work in Environmental Sustainability

Opportunities are only limited by lack of knowledge, innovation, creativity and motivation.

People definitely need, and increasingly want, to be using renewable energy, recyclable resources, and at the same time improving all facets of the environment wherever possible.

There are opportunities to educate (e.g. through media, courses, consulting); and opportunities to supply all sorts of environmentally friendlier services and products. The trend is naturally increasingly "green", and taking this course can be your first step toward carving out a niche for yourself in helping shift the world toward a greener future.

What Next?

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If you have any questions about our courses, we would love to hear from you - contact us today by -

Phone us on (UK) 01384 442752, or (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or

Use our FREE COUNSELLING SERVICE to contact a tutor.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .

Check out our eBooks

Professional Practice for ConsultantsExplore becoming a consultant. This ebook contains chapters on how to be a consultant, packaging your services, delivering the services, building your resources, finding the work and getting the job, planning and ethics.
Professional WritingProfessional writing is any writing that you are being paid for. It can include fiction writing, a best-selling book, articles in a magazine, articles in a newspaper, blogs for companies, technical manuals or procedure manuals, copy for catalogues, newsletters, text books and other academic material and so on.
Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsThe Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs ebook is ideal for students, professionals and home gardening enthusiasts alike. Fruit, Vegetable and Herbs provides an overview in techniques to produce food in the garden. Topics covered within this course include 1/ Food from the garden, 2/ Deciding what to grow, 3/ Successful growing, 4/ Fruits, 4-1/ Deciduous fruit trees, 4-2/ Citrus fruits, 4-3/ Tropical fruits, 4-4/ Berries, 4-5/ Nuts, 4-6/ Vine crops, 4-7/ Using produce, 5/ Vegetables, 6/ Mushrooms, 7/ Special growing techniques
Profitable FarmingDiscover new ways to make money from your farm and broaden your perspective on the farming industry. A few things in life are certain; change is inevitable and people need to eat. Learn to embrace change as an opportunity and improve your ability to forge a sustainable career in farming.