The Permaculture Design Course, or PDC, is a more intensive course than the Introduction to Permaculture. Developed internationally since the 1970’s, it is generally seen as the heart of permaculture education. The Core Curriculum sets out the topics that will be covered on a Permaculture Association certified Permaculture Design Certificate course.

PDCs can be taught residentially, as a group experience with a greater social aspect (and often a greater feeling of inner transformation), or using different formats for delivery. There is 72 hours minimum contact time between you and your teacher for you to be awarded your permaculture design certificate. Some courses offer this as part of a 10-14 day residential experience, others cover it over a series of weekends and over several months. 

Most teachers include membership with the cost of their PDC

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“I sense that many who attend a residential PDC are looking for a watershed point in their lives, where long held convictions are turned into actions. There is no doubt that completing a PDC is both a reassertion and discovery of one’s own core values and convictions and a deliberate attempt to forge a pathway towards one’s own stated goals and ambitions.”

It is internationally recognised that Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison is the basis for the PDC curriculum. The Permaculture Association core curriculum builds on the Designers’ Manual and extends the scope to address challenges of the British context, and to reflect the development of the permaculture field since the Designers’ Manual was published. 

Overview of the core curriculum:
1. Context
2. Ethics of permaculture
3. Principles of permaculture
4. Design - processes, tools and significant design exercise
5. Themes - e.g. water, energy, buildings, etc.
6. Next steps & further information
7. Feedback

Many PDC courses have the added benefit of learning additional skills. These may include activities such as: 
• Community living 
• Fermentation 
• Wood skills / crafts 
• Building skills - natural building 
• Practical projects like build a pizza oven 
• Propagation 
• Seed saving 
• Fruit tree grafting 
• Healthy living 
• Regenerative Agriculture methods 

Guest practitioners

As part of the course you will also have the opportunity to learn from other experts in their field.

These may not be permaculture teachers and can range from experienced gardeners to farmers, natural builders, wetland water purification system consultants, renewable energy specialists, holistic therapists and nutritionists, community builders and cooperators.

Each course is different and the collaborations are dependant on the area where the course is held and the guest practitioners that are available.

Most PDCs also include a visit to either LAND Centres or other sites where you can see permaculture in practice.

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Course formats

Courses can be either online, held over many weeks or weekends / evenings or  as a residential. The usual format is between 10 to 14 days, although some courses spread the 72 hours over a longer period.

Many PDC's can now be taken as modules or spread out over 6 months - 1 year which means you don't need to find 2 weeks to commit to an intensive course. 

Interested in teaching a PDC? Sign up as an Educator Member now to read the full recent core curriculum in detail.
Certified teachers use the core curriculum checklist to self-certify that their course meets the curriculum, to ensure high standards of teaching. Our certified teachers register is used worldwide. 

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