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Essential Information

Please read carefully before applying for the Practical Sustainability Course

Applications for the PSC 2022/23 will open at the END of January 2022.

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[To be finalised and confirmed January 2022]

Course dates from September 2022

The course dates match Bristol school term times including all holidays.

Term 1: Tuesday 6 September to Thursday 20 October 2022

Term 2: Tuesday 1 November to Thursday 15 December 2022

Term 3: Tuesday 2 January to Thursday 19 February 2023

Term 4: Tuesday 21 February to Thursday 30 March 2023

Term 5: Tuesday 18 April to Thursday 25 May 2023

Term 6: Tuesday 6 June to Thursday 20 July 2023

Course Hours

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9.30am to 3.30pm.

A small amount of days will finish at 1pm or finish later at 5.30pm during certain course activities. There are also some overnight field trips. Notice of these will be given in advance.

It is a requirement that students commit to regular and ongoing attendance throughout the year.


Course fees cover all tuition and field trip accommodation.

Full fee is £3,595 with a limited number of part concessionary places at £2,995 and full concessions at £2,395. Please email us to ask for a concessionary application form, after our reading guidelines on who can apply. Concession places are limited so please only ask if you have no other option. We are happy to discuss your situation if you are unsure if you qualify. 

During our application process you will be asked to confirm your place by paying a non-refundable £550 deposit.

The remaining course fees can be paid in the following ways;

  • Payment of remaining course fees in full by 31st August by bank transfer.
  • Payment of remaining course fees by instalments. Details of instalment plans here.

Additional costs;

  • Shared fuel costs travelling to field visits/overnight stays.
  • Refundable library deposit of £20 for the duration of the course.
  • Suitable clothing and footwear for participating in practical activities and being outdoors.
  • Optional purchase of mapping and design materials e.g. compass, tape measure etc.


Aspects of the course are physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. Please let us know on application about anything that may affect your ability to participate fully in the course. We strive to be inclusive and are happy to discuss support we can offer to enable participation. We will offer you a place if we can reasonably provide for your needs whilst making sure you are safe and gaining a valuable experience from the course.


We’re passionate about creating an inclusive course experience that promotes and values diversity. Groups that are diverse in age, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability and ethnicity create a rich environment for shared perspective and growth for course participants. We actively seek to find a range of tutors and practitioners from different backgrounds and approaches, so that students have a range of ideas and solutions that may resonate with them uniquely. Creativity is only ever limited by our imaginations - we teach the skills to be open to new experiences and information, whilst also listening to our inner intuition.

Course Structure

As the ongoing coronavirus situation remains unpredictable we are remaining flexible in our vision of course delivery and experience. Presently we envisage a return to classroom teaching with occasional sessions delivered online. We are planning the timetable with a range of inspiring and hands-on practical sessions, including a roundhouse build, as well as some new material and tutors gained during our remote teaching adaption of the PSC 20-21. Whether in the classroom or via Zoom we ensure our teaching is interactive and participatory, confident we can maintain the incredibly high standard of life - and world- changing education. 

The course covers a wide variety of modules including Permaculture Design, Soil and Ecology, Organic Horticulture, Green Energy, Group Dynamics, Creating Change, Woodland Management, Green Building, Re-localisation and Community Engagement.

See the full Course Curriculum and Tutor Biographies for more details.

Design Projects

As part of the PSC students participate in four design projects; beginners permaculture design, soil and ecology, garden design and finally permaculture design consultancy. Students work in small groups to produce designs for new or existing community and land projects, in line with the client’s aims. This is an opportunity to gain design skills in a real context. Past design clients have included; the National Trust, Avon Wildlife Trust, Edible Futures, Sims Hill Shared Harvest, Solar Sense and many more.

Field Trips

Nothing beats the excitement of bundling together early in the morning and heading out for an adventure. During the course we will visit many local projects to learn from and be inspired by what is happening in and around Bristol - often with the added bonus or reacquainting with previous Shifties; now plugged into the network or leading their own ventures. In previous years, further afield trips have included; Ben Law’s Prickly Nut Wood, Agroforestry Research Trust, Brithdir Mawr Community, Lammas Ecovillage, Fernhill Farm, Five Penny Farm, Ourganics, Ragmans Lane Farm, The Sustainability Centre and others.


We are so delighted to be returning to the beautiful Gasworks studio in St Werburghs as our main indoor classroom. The venue is easily accessible by bike, walking and bus and train routes. The venue has on street parking and bike racks in the garden. During our other hands-on practical activities we use a variety of locations in Bristol; including our Shifty allotment in St Werburghs, Mike Feingold's permaculture allotment at Royate Hill, the gorgeous green spaces at Grow Wilder in Frenchay. Students receive notice of course logistics and venues ideally a term in advance.


We regularly update our library of over 350 of the most relevant books on all aspects of Practical Sustainability. Books are available to borrow throughout the year.

All PSC students reeceive a 25% discount to use in the Permanent Publications online bookshop - home of the excellent Permaculture Magazine.

TOTUM Membership

PSC students are eligible to purchase and use TOTUM cards. Offering a wide range of student discounts; including 16-25 railcards.


The course is deliberately not accredited. We choose to teach for the love of learning, enabling students to engage with the curriculum from all angles and develop diverse skills within a collaborative culture. Permaculture is in the doing. Past students have appreciated the non-pressured learning environment and the opportunities to discover and explore their own unique passions and pathways. We value the strengths and individuality of each student to manifest positive change in the world in their own style.

We provide a high quality education and our tutors have extensive teaching and practical experience. We have a great reputation and students make connections within our gorwing network of practitioners, projects and organisations. Our students have been successful in finding employment, taking further education and apprenticeships, starting ventures and enterprises and many more rewarding avenues. We are confident that the knowledge and skills gained on this course are of value to anyone wanting to work with sustainability either professionally or in their home or community.


Full attendance and participation in the course earns a Permaculture Design Certificate certified by the Permaculture Association UK. Work completed on the course can contribute to the Permaculture Association's 'Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design' portfolio.

Meeting past PSC students and FAQs

We will invite all prospective students to an open evening with us in April 2022 (details tbc). We will give a short presentation, answer questions about the course and allow plenty of time for informal discussion with past PSC students. 

Extra-Curricular Opportunities - 'Shift Plus'

Over the years, PSC students have organised their own 'Shift Plus' groups, events and workshops. These have included everything from welding, to study groups, to hosting film showings. It's an opportunity for students to bond and learn with each other, network with past PSC students and the community, and to flex their budding skills and enthusiasm. Anything is possible when a new mixing pot of creative people come together. Year 2 students formed a course choir called the ‘Shifty Singers’.


If you have interest and time we can help you find a placement with one of the many projects in Bristol either during or after the course.