About interdisciplinary learning

Boy in class

Interdisciplinary studies, based upon groupings of experiences and outcomes from within and across curriculum areas, can provide relevant, challenging and enjoyable learning experiences and stimulating contexts to meet the varied needs of children and young people.

Revisiting a concept or skill from different perspectives deepens understanding, and can also make the curriculum more coherent and meaningful from the learner’s point of view.

Interdisciplinary studies can also take advantage of opportunities to work with partners who are able to offer and support enriched learning experiences and opportunities for young people’s wider involvement in society.

Effective interdisciplinary learning:

  • can take the form of individual one-­off projects or longer courses of study
  • is planned around clear purposes
  • is based upon experiences and outcomes drawn from different curriculum areas or subjects within them
  • ensures progression in skills and in knowledge and understanding
  • can provide opportunities for mixed-stage learning which is interest-based.

The curriculum should include space for learning beyond subject boundaries, so that children and young people can make connections between different areas of learning.

Interdisciplinary learning is an important element within Curriculum for Excellence. It constitutes one of the four contexts for learning in 'Building the Curriculum 3':

  • Life and ethos of the school as a community
  • Curriculum areas and subjects
  • Interdisciplinary learning
  • Opportunities for personal achievement.

All of these contexts are crucial if the potential of children and young people as successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens is to be fully developed.

'Building the Curriculum 3' highlights the importance and place of interdisciplinary learning within the broad concepts of the curriculum that it promotes.

The curriculum should include space for learning beyond subject boundaries, so that children and young people can make connections between different areas of learning. Interdisciplinary studies, based upon groupings of experiences and outcomes from within and across curriculum areas, can provide relevant, challenging and enjoyable learning experiences and stimulating contexts to meet the varied needs of children and young people. Revisiting a concept or skill from different perspectives deepens understanding and can also make the curriculum more coherent and meaningful from the learner’s point of view. Interdisciplinary studies can also take advantage of opportunities to work with partners who are able to offer and support enriched learning experiences and opportunities for young people’s wider involvement in society.

Building the Curriculum 3, Scottish Government, p21