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Criteria for the award of the diploma

Essential criteria


Each candidate must have completed a minimum of a two-year period of work following the award of their 72 hour course certificate. (There is no maximum limit).


Candidates should demonstrate that they have gone through the design process at least 10 times, with results and workings shown in a portfolio. Ideally, they should attempt a diversity of design projects with a variety of objectives and at different scales. For each design, they should demonstrate design skill:


  • describe the design using systems terms and permaculture design language

  • explain how the design will function as a system

  • articulate the process of how the design was made – the observations, the analysis tools used, the design tools selected and why they were appropriate

  • relate the interactions with the Client (owners, client group, stakeholders) and explain how this has informed the design work

  • produce plans for implementation, specify resources, estimate costs and discuss budgets

  • evaluate what has been learned from the design and make suggestions for further work and improvements

  • discuss the design in terms of pattern and general ecological principles.


At least 2-3 design processes should be comprehensive, and evidence should be provided of the "workings" that got a designer from talking to the client group to establish the brief, other evidence of client/community consultation, development of design proposals/briefs, base maps or situation diagrams, functional analyses, concept and design development plans, and then on to whatever stage was arrived at.


At least 2-3 designs should be accompanied by resource schedules and cost estimates. These should be discussed in the light of the budgets and other requirements of the Client.


When discussing designs, references should be made to the guidelines listed in the document “Permaculture Design Criteria Guide”.


The candidates should also show evidence of being guided by permaculture ethics in both their design practice and their daily lives (theory in action). They should display a deep understanding of the integrated nature of the ethics, and how they guide resource use. For example, references to “people care” should be linked to environmental impacts, references to the third ethic should be linked to the setting of limits.




Other criteria


Other criteria may be “desirable”, rather than “essential”. The complementary criteria introduced by the British Academy ("dissemination", "community building", "symmetry" and "evaluation and costings") are listed and discussed elsewhere under the title Complementary Criteria. These may be demonstrated at accreditation, at the discretion of apprentices and tutors. However, they will not affect the award of the diploma by the Institute.


Tutorials, process


The pathway that the candidate takes to arrive at accreditation is at the discretion of apprentices and their tutors. Again, this will not affect the award of the diploma by the Institute, provided that the essential criteria are met.




The Institute will ratify the award of the Diploma in Permaculture Design when the above criteria have been met.






Version 1-5 Dec 2010