Horticulture HNC

Course code 154D

What is special about this course?

The HNC Horticulture is designed to provide students with a broad knowledge of horticulture and landscape, and to develop an understanding of the characteristics, growth and use of plants.

The programme is delivered by very experienced horticulture tutors: the teaching team includes specialists in conservation and the environment, as well as an award-winning garden designer.

Throughout the course you will be introduced to areas of specialism and will develop a growing appreciation and understanding of the evolving nature of horticultural science and practices. This generic and practical knowledge, together with the introduction of communication, supervisory and management skills and abilities, will prepare you for employment at craft level in this diverse industry.


Special features

  • Taught by experienced horticulture specialists
  • Opportunity to gain essential supervisory and management skills as well as practical experience
  • Study full-time or part-time to fit in with your personal and work commitments


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

  • 1 Scottish Higher at grade C or above, or
  • 1 A level at grade D or above
  • Alternatively, NC Horticulture, City and Guilds Horticulture at level 6, or another equivalent SCQF level 6 course


Year 1 - HNC

Mandatory units are:

  • Horticulture: graded unit 1
  • Horticulture: plant recognition and use
  • Horticultural practices
  • Plant growth and development
  • Plant protection
  • Soil management

Optional subjects may include:

  • Financial records for small business
  • Horticultural mechanisation principles
  • Planting design
  • Plant physiology
  • Plants for gardens: specialised plantings
  • Retailing of plants

How will I study my course?

Additional information for course delivery in 2021-22

From September 2021, it is our intention that physical campuses will be open to all students for access to study facilities, support services and social activities, subject to Scottish Government guidance. Our priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students and staff. We will continue to review government guidance as restrictions shift and will inform you of any further changes to the information provided below about your course. You will study the course through our blended learning approach. From September, where practical and safe to do so, on-campus practical delivery will be prioritised and placements introduced in line with the Scottish Government guidance, including social distancing. Where this is not possible alternative options will be available. The theory elements may be delivered online through a combination of tutor-supported study, video-based seminars and self-directed study using the university's virtual learning environment. You can access your online and video-based classes from home however it is our intention to provide on-campus space for individual students where required as far as possible. Further information will be provided by your home campus. You will have an opportunity to attend an online, face to face or blended induction at the start of the course. International students requiring a Student Route visa to study with us must access scheduled classes on-campus.
  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • You will learn through a combination of face-to-face and video conference lectures and practical work. For those enrolled at Argyll College UHI, you will complete the practical work in a residential block placement at the prestigious Mount Stuart Estate, Isle of Bute, and at a specialist wholesale propagation nursery in Argyll

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Part-time (structured): 2 years


Where can I study my course?

  • Argyll College UHI

Students enrolled at Argyll College UHI will also have the option to study from home or you can choose to be located at Dundee and Angus College or the Borders College. Please indicate your preference on your application form. 

Start date

  • September


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes

  • EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK,
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with settled status in the UK
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.
Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £1,285 £1,285
Part-time (per HN credit) £86 £86

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and with a term time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £6,720 £6,915
Part-time (per HN credit) £448 £461

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living while studying.

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK, including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled or pre-settled status in the UK, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are not self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £7,020 £7,230
Part-time (per HN credit) £468 £482

Part-time study is not open to international student requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK.


External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact the relevant university partner college for more information.

The Chartered Institute of Horticulture also provides information on many available horticulture scholarships and grants: https://www.horticulture.org.uk/.

What can I do on completion of my course?

Once you have successfully completed the HNC Horticulture, you might like to consider careers in:

  • Retail horticulture: garden centre or large home/leisure store
  • Landscaping
  • Private estates/ homes work e.g. National Trust
  • Self-employment

Can I progress into further study?

On successful completion of the HNC you may progress to the HND Horticulture.

Is there more information available online?

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What our students, graduates and staff say

I’ve achieved better grades than I imagined I was capable of, which I believe is largely down to the tutors I’ve been lucky enough to have. They have been amazing – so supportive and encouraging. I know I’m a bit older than most students, but it’s never too late to study something you love. I’m so grateful to Argyll College for enabling me to do that, and I recommend that anyone who’s interested in studying – whatever age they are – visit their local college centre and find out what’s on offer. It’s been unbelievable. I’ve loved every minute of it and wish I’d done something like this 20 years ago.

Wendy Chance, studied HNC Horticulture at Argyll College UHI.

Apply for Horticulture HNC

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2022

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.