Permaculture Systems Online Course

Permaculture Systems Online Course

Duration 100 hrs (12 months)
Exam Optional
Tutor Support Yes unlimited by email
Qualification Certificate

Permaculture is a design philiosophy that enables sustainable living.  The word Permaculture was coined by Bill Mollison & Dave Holmgren in the 1970’s.  It is an abbreviation of the works “Permanent Agriculture”.

Permaculture holds three central tennants:

  • Care of the Earth
  • Care of People
  • Return of any surplus

A permaculture system is a unique landscape where all the plants and animals live in balance in a self sustaining ecosystem. Permaculture has an ethical approach to designing land use and community systems, to provide food, ecological habitats and other essentials needed for human survival. Learning to develop plans for permaculture systems (ie. a unique landscape where plants and animals live in a balanced and self sustaining ecosystem) is a crucial part of the permaculture process.

This course is suitable for:

  • students of permaculture who cannot access a working permaculture property
  • students in remote areas or those who cannot access face-to-face PDC courses

Detailed Course Outline

This course is made up a number of lessons or units.  Each of these has self assessment questions, a set task (practical homework) and an assignment which you can upload online.  Click below to read about each of the lessons and what you will learn.

There are 8 Lessons in this course:

Permaculture principles

  • Nature and scope
  • Principles of permaculture
  • Location
  • Functions
  • Elements
  • Elevation planning
  • Biological resources
  • Recycling energy
  • Diversity
  • Natural succession
  • Maximising edges
  • Other concepts and systems that have been incorperated into permaculture
  • Sustainability
  • Organics
  • No dig gardening (from Esther Deans)
  • No till planting
  • Crop rotation
  • Green manure cropping
  • Composting
  • Companion planting
  • Pest and disease prevention and management

Design principles

  • Ecosystems
  • Abiotic components of an ecosystem
  • Biotic components of an ecosystem
  • Ecological concepts and terms
  • Biomass
  • Understanding climate
  • Microclimates
  • Degree days
  • Water in permaculture systems
  • Minimising water needs
  • Arid landscapes
  • Irrigation
  • Using swales
  • Reed beds for waste water treatment
  • Reed bed plant species
  • Hydrological cycle
  • Water – Direct fall onto land surface, intercepted fall, fall onto water bodies
  • Rainfall, Evapouration, Infiltration
  • Effective rainfall
  • Soil Environments – micro organisms, organic matter
  • Types of soil degradation
  • Types of erosion & control
  • Salinity and its control
  • Soil acidification and management of pH
  • Wildlife in a Permaculture system
  • Structure of a Permaculture system
  • Plants and their function in permaculture
  • Guilds and stacking
  • Successions

Zone & sector planning

  • Scope and nature
  • Five standard zones
  • Sectors
  • Landscape profile
  • Site selection
  • Pre planning information; what is needed and how to find it
  • Procedure for concept design ; step by step
  • Recording site and locality details

Permaculture techniques

  • Forsests and trees
  • Trees as energy transducers
  • Types of forests; fuel, food, forage, shelter, barrier, structural, conservation
  • Forest establishment
  • Designing fire or wind break
  • Fire resistant plants
  • Mandala gardens & their construction
  • Keyhole beds
  • Water bodies in a permaculture system
  • Water body design
  • Water containment options
  • Water plants (Three types)
  • Managing water bodies

Animals in Permaculture

  • Location for animals
  • Functions for animals in a permaculture system
  • Bees, poultry, pigs, cattle
  • Grazing animals
  • Types of fencing (post and rail, hedge, wire, barbed wire, electric, banks and rises, gates
  • Animal water supply
  • Shelter for animals – trees, a valley, purpose built shelter
  • Birds
  • Earthworms
  • Aquaculture scope and nature
  • Aquaculture production systems (EP and IP)
  • Aquaculture species
  • Aquaculture management
  • Harvesting fish

Plants in Permaculture

  • Scope and nature of plants for use in permaculture
  • Growing vegetables organically
  • Physical characteristics of a soil
  • How to test and name a soil
  • Chemical characteristics of a soil
  • Soil nutrition
  • Fertilisers
  • Animal manures
  • Liquid plant feeds
  • Rock dusts
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Mycorrhyzae
  • Identifying plant nutrient deficiencies
  • Using mulches
  • Types of mulch
  • Weed management
  • Preventative weed control
  • Other methods of weed control
  • Culture of selected permaculture plants – asparagus, black locust, cassava, chicory, danelion, endive, fennel, garlic, ginger, horseradish, leek, mint, okra, pigface, rhubarb, sweet potato, tarowarrigul greens, water cress, water spinic, yams
  • Culture of selected fruits – apple, apricot, cherry, citrus, fig, loquat, nasi pear, olive, peach, pear, plum, quince
  • Culture of selected tropical fruits – avocado, banana, carambola, coconut, custard apple, guava, mango, paw paw, pepino, pieapple
  • Culture of selected vines – grape, passionfruit, kiwifruit
  • Culture of selected berries
  • Culture of selected nuts
  • Culture of rarer nuts
  • Crop plants which grow in shade
  • Fodder plants
  • Plant pest and disease management for permaculture
  • Plants with insecticidal properties

Appropriate Technologies

  • Scope and nature of appropriate technology
  • Solar energy
  • Wind energy
  • Methane
  • Biofuel power
  • Composting toilets
  • Energy efficient housing
  • Living fences (hedges, hedgerows etc)
  • Water recycling
  • Domestic needs – climate control, space heating, washing and drying clothes, cooking and cook stoves, refrigeration and cooling, hot water supplies, water conservation, electricity and lighting
  • Alternative energy and management
  • Waste disposal: kitchen waste, non composting waste, recycling
  • Biological filtration system
  • Conservation and recycling
  • Types of waste water (liquid waste, grey water, black water)
  • Energy conservation
  • Solar energy
  • Solar greenhouses

Preparing a Plan

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

When you have completed the lessons of your Certificate course, you will be given the option of taking the optional exam. It's okay if you don't want the exam, we still issue your Careerline Certificate. For Advanced Certificates however, the exam is compulsory (per module) and are included in the course fee.

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    Course Tutor

    Agriculture spans a wide variety of specializations.  Who your tutor is will depend on which area of agriculture you are studying.  Upon enrollment you will be assigned your own personal tutor who is there to support you throughout your studies.

    How It Works

    1. Learn Online

    Get access to your course content anywhere, anytime and study at your own pace.

    2. Get Help & Support

    Connect with other like-minded students and get help from the teacher whenever you have a question.

    3. Receive Certificate

    Graduate from your course knowing that you have what it takes to reach your next step.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I pay in installments?

    Yes! We offer great payment plans, however full payment up front is the cheapest. You can choose the best payment plan for you from the course page, or call us on 07 55368782 to talk to one of our course consultants for a custom plan.

    Can I study from anywhere in the world?

    We have many international students. Careerline's range of courses are suitable for any one, anywhere in the world.

    Do I get a discount if I enroll in a second course?

    Yes. You may claim a 5% fee discount when you enroll in a second course, and a further 10% off a three-course package.


    Do I have to sit an Exam?

    No. If you are enrolled in a Certificate course (100hrs), the exam is optional. You will be issued with a certificate which proves that you are competent in all units, if you choose not to sit the exam.

    Do you have set start dates?

    There are no set start dates, you may start at any time. Our courses are all self-paced. As our home page says, ‘Courses for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime’. ‘Anytime’ includes the start time of your choice. However, we do encourage our students to submit assignments on a regular basis. Wherever possible, we suggest developing a study routine.