One of our gardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Horticulture (BTEC)


Our Diploma in Horticulture encourages you to express your creativity and passion and explore a whole new world of opportunities. You’ll develop essential industry skills, study RHS gardens and nurseries and have the chance to undertake exciting and challenging projects. This is your chance to study something you love.

Entry requirements: Please see the Applying section
Starting: September
Course length: One year full-time, two years part-time
Study location: Brackenhurst campus

Fees and funding:

Click here for the latest fees and funding information

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Why choose this course?

  • You'll develop practical and technical skills that employers are looking for.
  • You'll gain a Level 3 qualification that will enable you to progress to our higher education and foundation degree courses in horticulture and garden design.
  • You'll gain valuable work experience opening up a range of career options in a variety of industry settings.
  • You'll have the opportunity to get involved with current horticultural research and exciting design projects.
  • You'll get the chance to be part of our award winning horticulture team and visit national shows and competitions.
  • You'll be able to use our outstanding facilities on our campus estate which is part of the DEFRA Environmental Stewardship scheme that supports effective environmental management of farm land and countryside estates.

Frequently Asked Questions about this course

What days does the course run on? Full students attend on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. If you want to study part time you will attend on Tuesday afternoons and all day Thursday in the first year and in the second year Tuesday mornings and all day Friday.

What time do the days start and end? It is best to assume that the days will be 9am -5pm. Depending on student numbers and room availability; we can sometimes organise the timetable so that we finish at 4pm or 4.30pm on certain days but it is often not possible to predict this until final numbers are known at the start of the course. 

Do I need any special equipment? You will need the appropriate work wear such as a pair of steel toe cap boots for practical work. You will also need overalls for workshop sessions and outdoor practicals. If you wish to use gardening gloves then you will need to provide your own. Warm clothing is essential in the winter as there is plenty of practical work to do during this dormant season. You will also need to provide your own set of secateurs and a clipboard is also useful as a general stationery item.

Are there any recommended books that I can get? When you start the course you will be given several lists of useful reading material - one for each module that you are studying. Al of these books are available in the library and you can access them once you have started your course. If you want some general reference material then the following RHS Encyclopaedias are very good: The RHS Encyclopaedia of Gardening; The RHS A-Z of Garden Plants and Flowers; The RHS Pruning and Training; The RHS Propagating Plants; The RHS Pests and Diseases and the Hessayon 'Expert' books are handy too and can often be picked up very inexpensively from discount shops, second hand bookshops and websites. The RHS/Cambridge University Press publication 'The Fundamentals of Horticulture: theory and Practice' by Chris Bird has recently been published and is a very valuable reference material for this course.

Can I get extra help with IT skills? Yes, the Skills Development Centre, teaching staff and IT staff can give you extra help to develop skills in making presentations, using spreadsheets, inserting images into documents and any other IT requests you may have. 

Will I get extra help with IT skills?  We have lots of contacts around the county. We can help you to find somewhere suitable to approach to do some work experience but you must make the contact with the provider and organise the placement. Our Employability Team will also help you to find a placement and run regular sessions for students to access their help. 

How much of the course is practical? About 50% of the course is practical work, this includes glasshouse work, outdoor practical's in the gardens and on the estate as well as lab work, visits and work experience. The academic side of the course includes the subject specific, technical, scientific and employability skills that will support the practical work that you do. The nature of the dormant and growing seasons will mean that you will do more theory in the autumn term and more practical in the spring and summer terms. 

How much homework will I get? Students studying full time should think of their course as full time even though you are attending structured lessons only three days a week. Your work experience hours and project work will take up roughly another whole day per week and the likelihood is that there will be additional hours of further reading and course work on top of of this if you are aiming for high grades and to get the most from your course. If you keep up with your course work and project work you will stay on top of it all and will not feel too much of a build up at the end of the second and third terms.

What is the average number of students in the group? The numbers vary each year but generally around 15-20 new students each year who will be a mix of full time and part time applicants. 

Will I get help with my assignment work? Yes! The Skills Development Centre is there to help anyone with any aspect of working on an assignment either through regular tutorials or on a drop in basis. All of your module teaching staff are also willing to give advice and guidance on your assignment work to help you get going and to give informal feedback. Formal feedback after marking the assignment also allows you to have a second attempt at the assignment if necessary and improve your grade and academic skills. 

Am I too old to do this course? No! We have students ranging from 16-60 (and above). In general we have a mix of age groups, many of our students are looking for a career change and are mature learners but we also have a growing number of school leavers accessing the course instead of A-Levels as well.

Are there any visits or field trips that I need to attend? There are no compulsory residential trips but we do run a series of day and and half day visits as part of the curriculum - these should be attended by everybody. Most visits will be free but some may incur a small cost.

Are there any exams to sit? No, there are some 'class tests' which are mini tests and these take place in lessons, some of which will be under formal exam conditions, others may be 'open book' assessments that are timed. The majority of our assessments are assignments  that may take the form of a poster, presentation, fact-sheet, survey report, maintenance plan or design project. Portfolios are another way that we build up different pieces of work that you carry out throughout the year.

Will I get help finding a job at the end of the course? The Employability Team will help you with creating a CV, personal statements and various job search skills. You will also get advice from your tutor and we will structure your training through your Individual Learning Plan in order to make sure that you get practice in all of the relevant skills for your career choice. Each year we get lots of enquiries from employers looking for new staff and we also support students who are setting up their own business with advice, contacts and through the NTU business advice service 'The Hive'.