RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture

The Royal Horticultural Society logo

Founded on qualifications first established in 1893, the Royal Horticultural Society Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture (replacing the RHS Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture) is an internationally recognised qualification providing a broad-based understanding of horticultural techniques and plant biology. It is:

  • an ideal first qualification for a career in horticulture.
  • perfect for leisure gardeners keen to expand their knowledge.

Course outline

The RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture is a one-year, part-time course. Students have three options for study with RBGE:

  1. Morning classes on Wednesday, 10am - 12.30pm (40 weeks)
  2. Evening classes on Wednesday, 6.30pm - 9pm (40 weeks)
  3. Distance learning option: students receive all course notes access to our online learning portal, PropaGate Learning, and tutorial support available by email.

growing your own produceThe course begins in August and is mainly theoretical. Each session is a lecture followed by an informal practical activity, walk-round or discussion session designed to appeal to a wide range of learning styles.

As an introduction to horticulture, the RHS Level 2 Certificate can lead on to advanced degree-level study of our HND/BSc in Horticulture with Plantsmanship.


You can take the course for pleasure, or with an aim to passing the exams. The exams are validated by the Royal Horticultural Society and can be taken in February and/or in June each year.

a huge range of plant types Course Fees

The taught course costs £620, and includes exam fees and complete course notes. The distance learning option costs £400 for the full course or £250 for an individual certificate (this does not include exam fees). Fees are payable on acceptance of a course place, before the start of the course.

You can use a £200 Individual Learning Account (ILA) to pay towards the cost of this course. The ILA scheme provides financial support for adult learning and training. Please see the ILA Scotland website for further details of the scheme, and eligibility.

How to apply

You can download the Applicant's Handbook from the 'Downloads' box on the right. The Applicant's Handbook contains further information and application forms. You can also apply for this course online by clicking here.

For further details, contact the Education office via our enquiry form (select 'Education') or directly at:

Education Department
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
20A Inverleith Row
Telephone: 0131 248 2937

Sitting the RHS Exams as an External Candidate

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is an approved examination centre for RHS written exams. It is the examination centre’s responsibility to register all candidates with the RHS. In order to do this we ask you to return your form to us at least 2 weeks before the closing date given by the RHS.

Please download the exam registration form, complete it and return it along with payment to:

Education Administrator (RHS Exams)

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh,

20a Inverleith Row, Edinburgh EH3 5LR

Administration Fees

RBGE charges an administration fee of £30 for each booking procedure, no matter how many examinations are booked at that time.

Examination Fees

These are available to download from the RHS website on the appropriate course pages, together with examination dates and registration deadlines. Applications received after the deadline date will incur late registration fees.


All examinations are held at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20a Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR. You will be sent a confirmation letter with full details of where to come and what to bring on receipt of your registration.

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PropaGate Learning is RBGE’s Virtual learning environment, helping you to explore the world of plants through distance and blended learning programmes.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)