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Why TAKE a Permaculture Design Course?

Empower yourself and learn how to become self-sufficient in any situation. The Permaculture Design Course teaches essential skills to meet the challenges of a world beset with climate change, economic meltdown, and diminishing natural resources. Learn to design regenerative human living environments that will provide for your every need in a way that benefits everything and everyone around you… A Permaculture Design Course will change your life and set you on a pathway towards health, abundance, personal freedom and economic well-being without compromising the earth or your ethics.
The Permaculture Design Course is the international standard for entry into the world of permaculture. Because Permaculture is a design system, having a working grasp of the design process is critical to successful application of permaculture in one’s life. The Permaculture Design Course specifically focuses on design by practically exploring the ethics, principles, and methodology that underpin permaculture design.

The process is dynamic and fluid and mimics the processes and patterns found in the structure of nature. By applying the design process and toolbox to any situation an elegant, appropriate and integrated living system that self-perpetuates will emerge. We as humans cannot separate ourselves from our environment and permaculture design concentrates this reality.

The Permaculture Design Certificate Course

The Permaculture Design Course was developed by Bill Mollison to teach principles and foundations of sustainable design. All PDC courses offered throughout the world must follow the same format to assure that the integrity of certification process is upheld.


Permaculture Education Africa’s PDC follows the original certification course developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren plus includes layers of process and content that are appropriate to the African context. Our courses meet all the requirements for certification. Participants that attend all sessions of this class and complete the final design project will receive Certificate of Permaculture Design.


Permaculture is the designed Ecosystemic Future. It is the way we regenerate our ecosystems, economies and culture into a cultivated self-regulating pattern that attunes humanity with nature and creates abundance for all of life. The process of permaculture design spirals through every aspect of the human endeavour transforming our culture and planet in its entirety into a Cultivated Human Ecosystem that is unlimited in its potential to support the evolution of life on earth into more conscious and spiritual culture that ensures Thrivability as the foundation for all of life. . 

To learn more about what permaculture actually is, please visit our What is Permaculture? Page to find out.

More about our pdc


Currently we have suspended our physical PDC due to context of our lives at the moment and are offering an Online Course instead. We will restart our physical PDC when our context allows for it.

The core of permaculture has always been in supplying a design toolkit for human habitation. This toolkit helps the designer to model a final design based on an observation of how ecosystems interact combined with human needs and vision. This results in understanding the natural pattern of place into which a design pattern is harmonised.

– The development of integrated systems thinking and design skills that can be applied to any situation in any part of the world. Permaculture designers will have a range of principles, ethics, and skills at their disposal that can be applied to the following:

– Design of urban homesteads, farms (small or large-scale), community-based natural resource management systems, sustainable community development programs, village, and city design (Ecovillage and Ecocity), integrated business planning and design, the design of integrated and appropriate social and legal system. It is an ideal tool for regional and local planning for NGO and government workers in all fields of sustainable development.

  • Development of integrated systems management and assessment tools to bring disparate and non-communicating elements of any environment together into organic processes that self-replicate and evolve.
  • Discover how to turn problems into solutions and become a solutions-based thinker.
  • Retrofit by applying Permaculture ideas and methods to existing systems. (Home, office, industry, forestry, schools, etc)
  • Assess systems for regenerative potential.
  • Develop business plans based on outputs from regenerative systems.
  • During the course, each participant will get hands-on design practice by designing a site of your choice if you are doing an online course or you can design a site located at  the training venue. If you prefer to design a site of your own choice, such as your current home, you will have to attend the online course and obtain a a map of the property you wish to design with contour lines, and a list of relevant data (see lower down on the page) so you will effectively interact with the design tools and processes within the context of your own life’. We will run through the complete design process over the duration of the course and by the end of the course you will have completed a design and be well practiced in the permaculture design process. Effective knowledge of the design process is central to permaculture and the course process ensures practical experience in the following aspects of design…

Students practicing their design skills in the sandpit.


The curriculum we follow is based on the internationally accepted structure that is based on Bill Mollison’s Designers Manual. This means we cover all the broad themes in permaculture and thus the content is appropriate for any student whether you live in the city or country or in any climate context around the world. The details of the curriculum are specifically tailor made for each course context, depending on student needs and requirements.

Permaculture Concept:

  • Understanding the concept of permaculture,  It’s broad & local context, 3 Ethical frameworks for Design & Action, 12 Principles, Regenerative Processes & the Evolution beyond Sustainability into Thrivability…

Ecosystem Understanding:

  • Structure & processes of ecosystems, 4 Ecosystem Processes, Assessment of Ecosystems for effectiveness, Brittle & Non-Brittle Environments, Global Climate Patterns, Land Shape & Topography, Vegetation Biomes.

Pattern Understanding:

  • Patterns in Nature, Fibonacci Sequence, Torus & Vortex Patterns, Dualism & its Integration, Scale & Order in Nature, Designing with Pattern Application.

Holistic Management:

  • What is Holistic Management, Developing a Holistic Context, Holistic Decision Making Processes, Testing Questions.

Process of Design Observation:

  • Observation & Interaction Processes, Data Gathering, Understanding & Working with Maps & Mapping Processes, Observation Value Overlay Mapping, Reading Landscapes, Identifying Challenges & Opportunities in Landscapes, Regulations & Local Planning Laws. Sector Mapping, Slope Mapping

Process of Design: 

  • Keyline Scale of Permanence, Design by Analysis, Making Connections, Design by Random Association, Design by Land Units, Zones & Elements Placement, Mainframe Design Structure, Design Criteria for Landforms, Designing with Water, Land Use Mapping, Design Data Presentation.

Themes in Design:

  • The Nature of Water, Design of Regenerative Water Infrastructures, Earthworks, The Nature of Soils, Design of Regenerative Soil Management Systems, Design of Buildings according to Climate, Off-Grid Technology Systems Design, Trees & Perennial Plants in Design, Design of Plant & Animal Based Production Systems according to Scale, Climate and  Zones, Design Strategies for an Alternative Nation, Decentralisation over Centralisation.

Major Design Project:

  • You will go through the entire process of design practically in the context of a design of your choice. This is the core outcome of the course process and you will complete a full permaculture design and present it. The design will take the form of maps, pictures, text, and models. Materials for the design will be provided on the physical course while you will provide your own on the online course.

Upon completion of the course, you will be provided with an internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certificate.


Kent Tahir Cooper and Guests….

Tahir and has been practicing permaculture for more than 25 years. He started his permaculture journey in the sub-tropics of Kwa-Zulu-Natal where he established and ran the peri-urban grassroots permaculture project Gardens for Africa that included a commercial nursery, a Sangoma Training Project, a hectare of intensive urban permaculture which supported a range of local organisations in materials and training in permaculture. In 2003 he moved the Klien Karoo where he founded the Berg en Dal Farm Permaculture Training Center which, he left in 2014, to establish and run Oudeberg Permaculture Farm with his wife Larissa Green. There they have developed a dynamic and productive commercial scale permaculture farm, which is the host venue for the courses they run together. You can find out more about the farm on this website. 

Tahir has been teaching permaculture related courses since 1995 and has facilitated 25 PDC’s and a wide range of regenerative living related courses from Eco-village Design to Permaculture in disadvantaged communities. Tahir is a professional Permaculture Design Consultant assisting clients from South Africa to India where he has designed a wide diversity of permaculture systems ranging from small-scale urban gardens, eco-villages, farms to regional level marginalised community action plans, established and managed community projects and non-governmental organisations, consulted on ecological restoration and land rehabilitation projects across the country and abroad. Tahir specialises in farm design and management with particular skill, experience and success in establishing regenerative water harvesting and use systems from small to large scale that drought proof properties and enable water resiliance.

Tahir has a Diploma in Permaculture Design and Education from the The Permaculture Institute in the USA, various Permaculture Related Qualifications from respected practitioners such as Geoff Lawton {PDC}, Max Lindigger {Ecovillage Design} and Ali Sharif {Regenerative Water Harvesting Infrastructures} plus a degree in Geography, a post grad course in Ethnobotany and more. Tahir brings this vast experience and knowledge into the PDC environment, delivering a high-quality transfer of knowledge, skills and intuitive understanding of permaculture producing high standard graduate designers.

Each course brings in 2 guest facilitators with extensive permaculture experience to diversify and strengthen course content and quality. These will be announced closer to the course date.




The physical course runs over 13 days, while the online course runs over a 10 week period . The learning process is based on Permaculture principles and makes use of a wide range of group-based and creative accelerated-learning methods.

We teach the various aspects of the course based on spiral learning, meaning we cover each subject in many ways, starting with theoretical and concept presentations followed by exploring each subject by interaction, research, observation of existing systems, tours, practical work, implementation of systems, design practice on many levels, collective group work, presentations by students, discussion, movies and audiovisuals, guest presenters and much more…

On the physical course we take you practically through the design process in the context of a Permaculture environment, which presents a diverse range of challenges and opportunities developing design skills, knowledge and experience set that can be applied anywhere. With the online course we provide virtual tools, tours and audio visual, and a optional practical weekend at Oudeberg Permaculture Farm, where you can engage and interact with our permaculture systems, but on the whole your experience of permaculture will be in the design of your chosen site.

On the physical course you will work in groups which affords the oppertunity to cover material that is not possible through individual work and in the process of developing a real time design that will be implemented; you will also develop essential group working skills. Many of the techniques and methods used in implementing Permaculture systems will be covered in some detail, but the focus will be on the design process.

With the Online Course you will be working mainly alone or with your partner, which is ideal for those who are not comfortable with group work. This “intrapersonal” approach and the much longer time afforded by the online medium, will enable a deep dive into the course material and the only limitation will be how much time, attention and effort you put into the processes.

Students working on their major design project…

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