Our academic programme includes modules on climate, writing skills, conservation biology, ecotourism, product certification, environmental economics, and personal leadership development. We also study environmental law, in order to better understand and implement it. Finally, there are long term studies being undertaken which will be published in a scientific journal.


The practical side of our curriculum teaches the students very valuable skills. These include field craft and tracking, firearm safety, first aid, and off-road driving. Most of these courses are presented by visiting instructors who are experts in their fields. The students also participate in a social responsibility programme which teaches local people to take responsibility for their environment.

Writing Skills

Module description

Aim and scope of the module
At the end of the module the student will be familiar with:
  • The degree to which different literature resources are factually accurate.
  • The format and style in which various literature resources should be referenced.
  • Communicating orally – understand that conveying information orally requires clarity
    of speech, clear pronunciation, etc.
  • Report writing – understand the degree to which factual accuracy is required, the
    relevance of the facts presented, etc.
  • Technical quality of written documents – appreciate basic standards in terms of page
    layout, formatting, paragraph numbering, etc.
  • Basic mediums used to communicate information – understand how to communicate
    through using a poster, power point presentation, e-mail, etc.


During this module the student will learn basic oral and written communication skills. This will be achieved through writing about as well as presenting information on the environment.

Legislative Framework

Module description

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa states clearly: “Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being”. Laudable as it may seem, this is patently not the case and we live in an environment that is steadily becoming more harmful to our well-being.

The question now posed is: What does it take to live a responsible life, and how does this impact on firstly one’s fellow humans, and secondly, on the environment?


South Africa has some of the best environmental legislation around. If we understand it and implement it, we will live in a responsible way, not just towards nature, but to our fellow humans as well.

Introduction to Conservation Ecology

Module description

Aim and scope of the module
At the end of the module the student will be familiar with:
  • The formation of our solar system, the formation of planet earth and the origin and diversification of life.
  • The biodiversity crisis – the current human caused mass extinction is placed into context through comparison with previous mass extinction events.
  • Conservation ecology – as humans are dependent on the environment for their survival, the biodiversity crisis has set the foundation for the development of practical ways in which we can conserve our unique flora and fauna. This practical conservation of organisms is embodied in the concept of conservation ecology. Conservation Ecology as a science is discussed (e.g. its multidisciplinary nature).
  • Valuing biodiversity – the economic, direct and indirect, and the ethical values for conserving biological diversity are introduced.


Through giving an overview of the vast biological diversity which the earth harbours, as well as the unique conditions under which it developed, a deep appreciation of the biosphere will be fostered within the student. In combination with this appreciation, an understanding of our dependence on biological diversity for our survival as well as their inherent right on survival is given. Against this background the current biodiversity crisis is introduced and the necessity of addressing this problem is explained. Conservation Ecology, as the practical solution to this problem, is introduced and its basic components explained.

Conservation Ecology

Module description

Aim and scope of the module
At the end of the module the student will be familiar with:
  • The different components of biological diversity (i.e. genetic, species and community diversity) as well as the different levels of ecological organisation – have an understanding of each of these components as the protection of biological diversity is the main aim of conservation actions. Conservation actions also often need to be taken at different levels of ecological organisation to ensure the complete functioning of environments within the biosphere.
  • The relationship between the individual within a population of a species and its environment – have insight into how individuals regulate their body temperatures, maintain a constant internal water balance, acquire energy and interact with other individuals within their population.
  • Population ecology – appreciate how environmental factors shape a species distribution range and abundance, influence its population dynamics as well as growth and life history. Appreciate the importance of these concepts for protecting rare or endangered species as well as the problem of small populations and its relevance to conservation ecology.
  • The different interactions between species – explain how competitive, exploitative and mutualistic interactions are able to influence and shape the biological assemblages within communities.
  • Community ecology – have basic insight into species abundance and diversity within a community, community structure and development as well as ecosystem processes (primary production and nutrient cycling).
  • Large scale ecology – understand that managers often have to manage areas which encompass many different ecosystems and therefore it is important to understand environmental processes operating above the ecosystem level.
  • The various terrestrial and aquatic environments on our planet – understand how climatic and soil factors have shaped and influenced the distribution of biomes as well as their biological diversity. Identify and explain the occurrence of biodiversity hotspots as well as their significance for conservation.


Conservation ecology is aimed at maintaining the earth’s biological diversity through taking action to prevent or limit the negative impact of humans on the environment. In order to effectively protect biological diversity, the conservationist has to understand its meaning. The manager also has to appreciate the different levels of ecological organisation which allows for ecosystem functioning. Protecting a species, for example, without its habitat or mutualists will still lead to its demise. During this module the student will learn about the different components of biological diversity and the different levels of ecological organisation (i.e. individual, population and community) and how this relates to conservation (i.e. how to use this information to take action to maintain and prevent the loss of species as well as ecosystem functioning).


Module description

Aim and scope of the module
At the end of the module the student will be familiar with:
  • Define sustainability – the concept of sustainability is explained as well as its importance to conservation.
  • Describe the principles necessary to manage the environment sustainably through understanding sustainable veld management. Therefore understand:
    • Natural resources (soil, water, and vegetation) within South Africa that are important for sustainable veld management.
    • Veld management principles – principles (e.g. soil erosion, plants and animals, bush encroachment, grazing value, and grazing systems) important for sustainable veld management are introduced.
    • Veld management practices – actions required to manage veld sustainability are explained (e.g. property planning, veld condition assessment, and grazing systems).


Understand the concept of sustainability and its importance for conservation. Be able to illustrate the principles of sustainability as well as its importance for conservation through using sustainable veld management as a vehicle.

Data Collection

Module description

Aim and scope of the module
At the end of the module the student will be familiar with:
  • Colleting techniques – understand that there are specific sampling techniques for collecting biotic data through the collection of insect and plant material.
  • Specimen identification techniques – understand the methods required for correct identification of specimens through identifying insects, plants, birds, reptiles and animals.
  • Caring and storage of specimens – appreciate that specimens require different storage methods through storing insect and plant material.
  • Record keeping and basic reporting writing.


On completion of this module the student will be able to demonstrate knowledge, an understanding and skills in collecting, sifting and recording data relevant to nature conservation and compiling basic reports on collected data for record keeping and action.

The Personal Mastery

Module description

This Module on personal mastery follows an approach of discovery and learning, while experiencing an educational journey of various disciplines. The integration of the different modules have been designed to compliment each other and to form a balanced approach to personal mastery.

Instead of finishing off certain modules each term, we opted to address the content of each module throughout the year. This should enhance learning plus ensure that the principles learnt stay relevant and fresh throughout the course.

Below follows a diagram of the approach to each module and related topics for each term to achieve personal leadership..

Under the different modules we will include the following topics:

1. Character (Self knowledge Discovery):
● Trustworthiness
● Respect
● Responsibility
● Fairness
● Caring
● Citizenship

2. Healthy Lifestyle (Life Skills):
● Body (eat, exercise, sleep etc)
● Soul
● Spirit
● Mentor (importance of accountability)
● Me time – reflection, meditation, journaling
● Financial Management
● Stress Management
● Study methods - Adri inligting

Book report: Healthy and Free

3. Journaling (Life skills):
a. Introduction to journaling: - Document, youtube, photo’s, project guidelines / outcomes
b. Personal journaling
c. Guided journaling / Who am I - topic to be divided into segments for journaling guidance

4. Reporting (Presentation):
a. Introduction to reporting:
b. Project guidelines
c. Outcomes

5. Career Direct - Psychometric testing (Career Choice / Life Plan):
a. Understanding your design - Aptitude
b. Personality
c. Emotional Intelligence & Character
d. Career path


The AEL course is designed for post-matric students who are seeking a year away from home.

It represents a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and take away invaluable skills in a variety of fields, including conservation biology, environmental sciences, philosophy, journalism and more.

If you’re interested in ecology and want to immerse yourself in the great outdoors, while being taught by some of South Africa’s leading ecologists, environmentalists and conservationists, this is your chance.

By the end of the year, you too will be one of the leading authorities on the devastating effects of climate change and the environment at large.