Personal profile


Professor Peter Higgins holds a Personal Chair in Outdoor and Environmental Education at Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh. The department has an international reputation and is one of few in the world with both a practical and teaching orientation as well as substantial research interests in the field of 'learning outdoors'. The focus of the work of the Outdoor Education section is to prepare critically aware professionals to teach within and improve practice in the sector, and also to make a significant contribution to research and knowledge in the field. Peter's national and international contribution has recently been recognised by the University of Edinburgh through the award of a Personal Chair, the only one in the field in the UK and Europe.

Peter's early career was as an environmental scientist and freshwater biologist before training as a teacher of Outdoor Education and Biology. He holds a wide range of high-level UK and European governing body teaching awards notably in canoeing/kayaking, free-heel skiing and mountaineering, in all of which he retains a strong recreational interest. He has taught at several UK outdoor education centres as well as in New Zealand, and is a member of a number of national and international panels and advisory groups on outdoor and environmental education. These include several European Union and UNESCO educational projects. He has also acted in advisory capacity to the UK and Scottish Governments on Outdoor and Environmental Education, access to the countryside and related environmental issues. He is currently a Scottish Government Ministerial Advisor on 'One Planet Schools' - integrating sustainability, development and outdoor education. He has held advisory roles with a wide range of outdoor and environmental educational providers and agencies and has contributed to their continuing professional development.

He is the author of over 100 articles and books relating to these fields. Through individual and collaborative (with other UK and European universities) research grants and consultancy activities he has attracted income of over £1.1M.

He iteaches on a range of Outdoor Education and Environmental Education programmes. Of these, and notable for its 40-year history is the Postgraduate Diploma and Masters degree in Outdoor Education which is unique in Europe and one of the few in the world. It has a high national and international reputation, attracting students from many parts of the world. He teaches both academic and practical aspects of these and other sustainable development and education programmes in the university.

Current Research Interests

  • Theory, philosophy and practice of outdoor education / outdor learning
  • Theory, philosophy and practice of environmental and sustainability education
  • International comparative approaches to outdoor, environmental and sustainability education
  • Coaching and skill acquisition in outdoor activities

Research Supervision:

Peter currently supervises a number of doctoral students and research assistants (from the UK, Europe, Pakistan and North America who are studying a wide range of topics in Outdoor, Environmental and Sustainability Education in the context of the UK, Europe and other parts of the world.

He has supervised doctoral students now working in the UK, Europe, Japan, Canada and Austraila.


MSc Programmes in 'Outdoor Education' and 'Outdoor Environmental and Sustaianbility Education'

  • Interpreting the Landscape
  • Professional Practice and Experientail Learning
  • Ecology and Field Studies
  • Practical programme - Canoeing (River Spey Descent), Winter Mountaineering

PGDE Secondary

  • Contribution to extension course in outdoor learning

BEd Primary

  • Contribution to extension course in outdoor learning
  • Contribution to extension course in global learning

MSc Carbon Management

  • Contribution to taught part of the course

Sustaianbility, Society and Environment - University-wide Undergraduate Elective Course

  • Contribution to taught part of the course and tutorial


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