Horticulture Level 5 NC

What is special about this course?

Whether you simply want to improve your skills in the garden or are considering a career in horticulture, this highly practical course will equip you with all the essentials you need to succeed.  

As part of the course you'll undertake a mixture of theory classes, which you'll attend at your local college (Rothesay or Helensburgh) and practical work which will take place Hermitage Park or Mount Stuart gardens. You will need to  to make your own arrangements for travel and accommodation (if required) when attending practical days. 


Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this course however we recommend that you have a passion for working in the great outdoors and don’t mind getting your hands dirty!  

The course includes the following topics: 

  • Plant Identification – including plant morphology, Latin naming and learning identifying characteristics of plants
  • Garden Design – design a garden area of your choice, many students choose to design their own gardens
  • Planting Design – learn how to combine plants and create beautiful borders
  • Plantsmanship – learn how to design interesting plant collections
  • Home and Allotment Gardening – how to plan crop rotations and produce beautiful fruit and veg and prune your fruit bushes and trees
  • Organic Gardening and Permaculture – learn the basic principles of organics and permaculture and how to have an environmentally friendly garden
  • Soils and Growing Media – learn how soils are formed, how to identify what soil type you have and how to improve it for the plants you would like to grow
  • Botany and Plant Nutrition – An introduction to the science of how plants grow including water transport, photosynthesis and plant nutrients
  • Weeds, Pests and Diseases – Identification and control methods for common garden problems
  • Horticultural Machinery – Maintenance and use of lawn mowers, strimmers, hedge trimmers and more
  • Plant Propagation – produce plants from seed, cuttings, division, layering and more!
  • Planting and Maintenance – Practical maintenance of plants and gardens including pruning, soil preparation, planting out and plant protection
  • Working with Others – We encourage our students to enjoy their time working together and supporting each other both in practical classes and when online


Your bursary (for full time students) will cover the costs of personal protective clothing including steel toe cap boots, gloves and waterproofs which will be supplied at the start of the course.  

No other specialist equipment is required however if you have a favourite pair of secateurs you like to use please bring them with you. A scale ruler and colouring pencils or pens for garden design would also be useful. 

How will I study my course?

  • Full Time

Study in Helensburgh:

The practical elements of this course are delivered face to face by lecturer Andrew Garven at Hermitage Park. Andrew came to teaching after a career in the garden centre industry, latterly being responsible for a number of high turnover plant areas for a national garden centre chain.

Study in Rothesay:

The practical elements of this course are delivered face to face by lecturer Martin Catlin at Mount Stuart Estate. Martin is a highly experienced gardener and landscaper, having run his own garden maintenance and landscaping business on Bute for many years.

Your online theory lectures will be networked between the two centres allowing you to work with students across Argyll and lectures from both Andrew and Martin.

  • Part Time

You can choose to study 1 day per week, picking one of the following options:

  • Organic Gardening and Permaculture systems
  • Garden and Planting Design

How long will my course last?

17 Weeks


    Where can I study my course?

      • Helensburgh Learning Centre
      • Rothesay Learning Centre

    Start date



    Most full-time students will automatically have their course fees paid for this course.   

    If you have recently moved to, or do not normally live in Scotland, you may need to pay £5,970 in course fees, these can be paid in instalments. Families of Armed Services personnel are subject to different fees regulations and may also have to pay course fees. If you think this may apply to you, please contact us and we can advise you. 

    This course is not available to students who require a Tier 4 Home Office visa to study in Scotland (international or EU). 

    Part-time FE students who are on low incomes or in receipt of certain benefits may also have their course fees paid for them. Please refer to page 2 of our Fees and Funding Guide to see if you are eligible.  

    Each single SQA unit costs £90. You may be able to apply for an Individual Training Account (ITA) to cover up to £200 of part time fees. 


    Bursary for Living Costs 

    If you are 18 years of age or over on the start date of your course, and will be studying full-time you may be eligible for bursary funding, depending on your household income. Our bursary fund is finite and is allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis so it’s important to make your application for bursary as soon as the application process opens in July. You will need to have accepted our offer before you apply. 

    If you are under 18 you may be eligible for EMA. EMA is paid at a rate of £30 per week dependent on your total household income.  

    Please see page 2 of our Fees and Funding Guide for full details of Bursary and EMA.  

    You may also be eligible for assistance with travel and childcare, and we have discretionary funds for those students in need. You can find all the information you need in our funding pages

    What can I do on completion of my course?

    When you’ve successfully completed this course, you can move on to study at a higher level with courses such as: 

    • HNC Horticulture 
    • HND Horticulture  

    Employment options in this sector could include:  

    • Gardener  
    • Landscaper  
    • Production Horticulture Assistant Garden Centre Assistant  
    • Conservation and Environmental Work  
    • Design  
    • Food production  
    • Education  
    • Horticultural Therapy/Care 

    Is there more information available online?

    QR Code - scan to visit course page

    You can use the above QR code to connect directly to the course details.

    We are very lucky to be able to teach our students in the beautiful gardens and grounds of Hermitage Park in Helensburgh and Mount Stuart Estate on Bute. Our students learn in real, working gardens where the tasks they carry out contribute meaningfully to these wonderful gardens. This is a great course for anyone starting out in horticulture or looking to improve their gardening skills for their own garden.

    Amber Crowley, Curriculum Lead for Horticulture

    Horticulture NC

    I want to study in Helensburgh or Rothesay

    We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at UHI Argyll. UHI Argyll operates 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 age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity status, race, religion and/or belief, sex, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.