RHS Level 3 Certificate Distance Learning Courses

Part 1: The RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth, Health and Applied Propagation

The RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth, Health and Applied Propagation builds on the current RHS Level 2 certificate and delivers a broad-based understanding of horticultural techniques and plant biology. If you are based in Scotland, it is equivalent to something between a higher and an advanced higher or to an English A-Level.

The RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth, Health and Applied Propagation is made up of four units:

  • Plant taxonomy, structure and function (5 credits)
  • The root environment, plant nutrition and growing systems (5 credits)
  • The management of plant health (3 credits)
  • Understanding applied plant propagation (2 credits)

Part 2: The RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Garden Planning, Construction and Planting

This certificate covers garden planning, construction and planting and builds on the current RHS Level 2 certificate. The course delivers a broad-based understanding of garden design, construction and planting is the second of two theory certificates that go together with a practical certificate to make the RHS Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture. .

The RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Garden Planning, Construction and Planting is made up of four units:

  • Understanding garden survey techniques and design principles (5 credits)
  • Understanding the selection and use of landscaping elements in the garden (5 credits)
  • Understanding the setting out and construction of landscaping elements in the garden (3 credits)
  • Understanding a range of specialist elements in the establishment of garden and urban plantings (2 credits)

The RHS Level 3 Part 1 and Part 2 certificates are stand-alone qualifications so you don’t need to have completed Part 1 before you do Part 2.

Please note we are unlikely to run the RHS practical courses, if your ultimate aim is a Diploma.

Study Options

You can choose to study Part 1 or Part 2 as a standalone course, you will have access to the online course materials and tutor support for 18 months. If you choose to do both certificates you will have access to the online course materials and tutor support for 24 months.

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.

Applications are accepted between 3rd September 2018 and 31st May 2019. All you have to do is complete the application form on the following pages of this handbook and return it to us along with payment.

*Please note an electronic form for 2018-19 will not be available online until Monday 20th August 2018

Applications should be made using the application form in the 2018-19 handbook and will be held until the start of the new intake on 4th September 2018. Applications received after the 4th September 2018 will be processed for immediate start on payment of the course. 

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

Entry Requirements

There are no formal requirements however we would recommend studying the RHS level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture before taking on this course, but it is not always necessary.

Examinations and Assessment

Each certificate course involves 150 hours teaching and home study and is assessed through the formal RHS exams in February and June.

The award of these Certificates is based on written examinations that are externally set and marked by the RHS. The certificate is accredited by Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) in England and Wales. 

Please note we are unlikely to run the RHS practical courses, if your ultimate aim is a Diploma.

Sitting the RHS Exams as an External Candidate

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is an approved examination centre for RHS written exams. Registrations for February 2019 will open in October 2018.

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 £25 for the first exam registered and £5 for each additional exam. These fees are per registration form.

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.

What’s Next?

On completion of the certificates, students can opt to take their studies further by joining RBGE’s Higher National Certificate or Diploma in Horticulture with Plantsmanship, The Level 3 is comparable in level to some elements of the first year of the RBGE diploma in Horticulture with Plantsmanship, or the larger BSc (Hons) degree in horticulture with Plantsmanship offered by RBGE and the Scottish Agriculture College and awarded by the University of Glasgow. You can find out more about these qualifications by clicking here.

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