RBGE Diploma in Herbology

RBGE roots were embedded in the ancient practices of herbal medicine when it was founded as a Physic Garden in the late 17th Century. Now, over three hundred years later, our first Diploma in Herbology rekindles that holistic tradition.

Herbology is an innovative programme of study that draws together several connected branches of botanical science to clearly demonstrate the remarkable therapeutic potential of plants and the practical applications of this knowledge.

Rooted in our physic garden heritage, our Diploma in Herbology is a fascinating multi-faceted course.

The course aims to:

  • Explore and explain the world of herbs
  • Encourage the study of medicinal plants
  • Share understanding of the earth's herbal lore
  • Enrich awareness of the natural world
  • Nurture the creative use of healing botanicals.  

Course content

The course is divided into 5 subject areas. Each includes practical and theoretical topics, with sessions delivered by lecturers from RBGE as well as visiting Herbalists, Holistic and Organic Practitioners, Botanists and Ethnobotanists from around the world.

  • Phytology ... (the study of plants) - includes introductory Botany, Classification & Identification, RBGE Materia Medica. 
  •  Pharmacology & Green Pharmacy ... here the theory of how herbs work (pharmacology) is combined with the practical preparation of herbal remedies (Green Pharmacy). 
  • Physic Garden Horticulture ... teaches not only how to grow medicinal herbs, but how to design and sustain your own organic physic garden ... the very heart of our Herbology programme!
  • Ethnomedica ... ‘remembered remedies' - explores the botanical healing traditions of the world, from the Himalaya to our very own Herbs of the Highlands & Islands.
  • Herbal Ecology ... wild harvest expeditions will explore some of our most remarkable botanicals in their natural habitats ... with practical insights into the sustainability and conservation of rare and endangered herbs.  

Course structure

Option 1 – Taught Course

Delivered on Tuesdays across one academic year, based in the Herbology Room at RBGE. The classes, which begin in September, are divided into both theory and practical sessions, with seasonal wild forages and a selection of complementary visits. Several hours of home (self-directed) study time will be required each week. Each student is given their own herb bed within the RBGE Physic Garden to nurture throughout their year of study.

Option 2 – Blended Learning

This Blended Learning Programme comprises a blend of Online Study and Study Weekends held here at RBGE. The duration of the course is two years, a year longer than the taught version of the herbology diploma delivered at RBGE.  Please contact us to be put on the waiting list for information regarding this course. The next blended course is likely to start in 2019/2020.


Students will be assessed through written or practical work for each module, as well as a Herbal Journal, Herbarium, and their final Thesis.

Entry requirements

No formal qualifications or prior experience are needed to enrol on this course, just a keen interest and enthusiasm for the growing and use of plants for medicinal purposes, as well as a willingness to dedicate time and effort. *Please note that this course does not qualify you to practice as a medical herbalist.

How to apply

The Applicant's Handbook, which contains further information and an application form, is available to download via the 'Downloads' box at the top right of this page. If you have any further questions after reading the Handbook please contact the Education office via our enquiry form (select 'Education') or directly at:

Education Department
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
20A Inverleith Row, Edinburgh EH3 5LR
Tel: 0131 248 2937
Email: education@rbge.org.uk

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