Permaculture IV

Course CodeVSS107
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


"Learn more about design and management for a comprehensive permaculture system"

  • bring together all aspects of permaculture into design and management of a comprehensive and balanced system.
  • relevant to both the amateur or professional.



Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Overview of Permaculture
    • Definition of Permaculture, understanding plant names
    • environmentally safe pesticides
    • zones, sectors and cycles in Permaculture design
  2. Buildings and Permaculture
    • the alternatives
    • indoor/outdoor buildings
    • storage facilities
    • building materials
  3. Buildings and Permaculture : Integration into the Environment
    • essential elements for houses in different zones
    • energy conservation
    • alternative energy sources
  4. Waste Disposal
    • Liquid waste
    • grey water, blackwater
    • waste disposal and recycling
    • nitrogen in waste
  5. Recycling
    • composting
    • waste water recycling
    • conservation and recycling
    • council recycling
  6. Designing for Natural Disasters
    • fire, flood, cyclone, tsunami
    • biotecture
  7. Natural Watering
    • Water efficient gardens
    • mosquitoes
    • windmills
  8. Indigenous Plants and Animals
    • wildlife management
    • birds in the garden
    • suitable native plants
  9. Preparing Management and Development Plans
    • planning and managing a garden
    • permaculture design
    • work schedules
  10. Major Design Project
    • A in depth design project for both your own residence and another property


  • Develop knowledge of the alternative materials and features available for buildings in permaculture systems.
  • Understand the role of buildings in the permaculture environment.
  • Develop knowledge of the range and function of waste disposal methods suitable for permaculture systems.
  • Understand the role of recycling in modern society.
  • Develop knowledge of how to design for natural disasters.
  • Develop knowledge of water efficient irrigation techniques.
  • Understand the role of indigenous plants and animals in permaculture systems.
  • Develop skills in preparing management and development plans.
  • Perform a major design project.

What You Will Do

  • Go to nurseries and agricultural supply companies and inquire about environmentally safe pesticides. Write a report on these products.
  • Explain the methods available to someone who wishes to control pests, diseases and weeds without using potentially dangerous chemicals.
  • Observe the construction process of a building or structure that involves some type of earthworks (eg, roads, dams, etc).
  • Briefly write a short report on mud brick dwellings. What are the benefits of this in of structure? What are the disadvantages?
  • Take a photograph of your home or residence. Discuss your residence in relation to designing with consideration to the environment (eg. does it efficiently utilize sun and shade, is it energy efficient).
  • Describe the importance of house design in relation to location, eg. tropical region of Queensland or west coast of Tasmania.
  • Contact the local council or health department and inquire about allowable use of waste material in your area. Consider asking about grey water, septic tanks, use of effluent and animal wastes, etc. Write a report to 250 words on the task.
  • Contact and obtain information on composting toilets from a manufacturer. Compile this information and use it as a personal reference.
  • Contact the local council or health department and inquire about recycling methods available for residents of your shire. How has the council encouraged recycling?
  • Find a home site (which has an existing home on it, or is planned to be built on), which is prone to natural disaster. This might, for instance, be in a flood or fire prone area; or perhaps a tropical climate that is prone to cyclonic storms.
  • Consider what measures can be taken in the permaculture development of this property, to deal with the likelihood of a disaster at some future date.
  • Contact a supplier of windmills and find out all that you can about the use of these devices for supplying water (ie. pumping from a river, lake, dam, ground water etc).
  • Discover the alternatives available, the costs involved, the applications, operation etc.
  • Contact the National Parks and Wildlife department and obtain as much information as possible on wildlife corridors, conservation, etc. Contact your local council department and inquire about their wildlife corridors, etc. Are they similar or drastically different?
  • Can you think of a reason why there may be a difference?
  • For a month period, write down all tasks performed by yourself and anyone who enters your permaculture garden. Submit this work schedule plus a brief report on how it may be possible to improve the time efficiency in the garden.
  • Write a report on where you think ‘alternative’ permaculture is heading in terms of main-stream acceptance.


Permaculture emerged in the 1970's as an innovative idea with the aim of creating landscapes where natgure was in perfect balance. Like the "Garden of Eden", the idealistic permaculture system would be so perfectly designed that the plants, animals, soil and humans living there would be in perfect harmony, each taking what they need to live, and each giving back what the landscape requires for sustainability.
Of course, such a perfect situation is idealistic, and perhaps not attainable; but it is possible to get closer to that ideal than what farms, gardens ands other landscapes commonly achieve.

A permaculture system is made up of soil, land, water, plants, structures, etc.

The important criteria for permaculture are inputs of low energy and high diversity; and the landscape should be designed with the following 9 principles in mind.

1.    Relative location – Everything in the landscape design should be interconnected. Good design involves placing each component in the best location so that it encourages desirable relationships with all other components.

2.    Multiple functions – Good designs serve lots of different functions, providing for the needs of the people, animals and plants that inhabit that space. Every design function is considered individually so it supports of the whole.

3.    Multiple elements – Biological diversity is critical. Arrangement of plants and structures affect environmental condsitions. Nature of topography affgects both living and non living components.

4.    Elevation planning – landscapes are three dimensional. The ground surface has depressions and mounds, slopes and flat places. There are things happening below the ground that affect everything above. And there are things above the ground too (eg. tree tops, walls, roofs etc)

5.    Biological resources – A good permaculture landscape only harvests renewable energy sources (ie. Things that can be regrown or replaced in some other way).

6.    Energy recycling – Energy needs should be kept sustainable by collecting, storing, and efficiently using and recycling. Vegetation is made into compost, animal excrement/manures adds to soil fertility, etc. and plants (e.g. legumes) are used to store energy in the form of nutrients in the soil.

7.    Natural succession is managed. - When old life fades, new life replaces it.

8.    Edges are Maximized – Throughout any design there are edges to sectors (eg. the edge of a vegetable garden, or edge of a grazing paddock). Edges are sensitive areas that should be designed for greater diversity and need special attention.

9.    Diversity is Good – Permaculture systems are always a polyculture, composed of many and varied components.












ACS Distance Education is a member of the Permaculture Association (UK) and The Alternative Technology Association (Australia)


Why Study the Course?

This is a great course to choose, if you want to not only learn about the subject now; but keep learning after you finish studying. We believe a good course should not only develop intelligence and knowledge; but also:

  • Improve your ability to communicate with others within the discipline
  • Develop problem solving skills relevant to this discipline 
  • Expand awareness and develop creativity
  • Facilitate networking (develop contacts within an industry)
  • Develop attributes that set you apart from others in your industry
  • Motivate you, build confidence, and more

According to some authorities, success is actually only affected about 20% by your knowledge and intelligence.


Career Opportunities

Study alone can never guarantee career success; but a good education is an important starting point.

Success in a career depends upon many things. A course like this is an excellent starting point because it provides a foundation for continued learning, and the means of understanding and dealing with issues you encounter in the workplace.

When you have completed an ACS course, you will have not only learnt about the subject, but you will have been prompted to start networking with experts in the discipline and shown how to approach problems that confront you in this field.

This and every other industry in today’s world is developing in unforeseen ways; and while that is unsettling for anyone who wants to be guaranteed a particular job at the end of a particular course; for others, this rapidly changing career environment is offering new and exciting opportunities almost every month.

If you want to do the best that you can in this industry, you need to recognise that the opportunities that confront you at the end of a course, are probably different to anything that has even been thought of when you commence a course.


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