RBGE Diploma in Garden History
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) Diploma in Garden History is the ideal specialist course in the history of British gardens. It offers a wonderful blend of online learning in your own time, coupled with study days here at RBGE. We cover the development and influence of heritage gardens, their design and conservation, and the plants and techniques that made them.
Since the founding of the RBGE in 1670 garden design styles have undergone many changes and the range of plant material to grace gardens, designed landscapes and botanical collections has significantly expanded. With one of the largest living collections of plants in the world, and with such a long and rich botanical and horticultural history, it is particularly fitting that the RBGE should offer a course of study in garden history.
This course is endorsed by The Gardens Trust.
- ONLINE with study weekends
Frequently asked questions
- What does the course cover?
The course is divided into the following five modules covering: History of British Garden Design, Italian Gardens and Gardening, Aspects of the History of Plant Introduction and Gardening, Victorian Horticulture and Conservation of Historic Gardens and Designed Landscapes.
The investigation of the introduction and cultivation of exotic flowers and fruit, including pineapples and orchids, as well as historic pruning and training techniques, provides an unusually broad spectrum to the diploma; it also affords valuable experience for those wishing to work in heritage gardening. A unit on Victorian horticulture provides scope for the study of the incredibly diverse and rapidly changing horticultural tastes of the nineteenth century whilst the Conservation of Historic gardens and Designed Landscapes unit applies knowledge from across the course to address the challenges of the evaluation and conservation of our historic garden heritage.
- What are the study options?
This course is a two-year online course where students attend study blocks at RBGE each year to support the exercises and tuition which take place online through PropaGate.
- What is the format of the course?
This course is a blend of online learning and study days/weekends.The course consists of five units which are divided over four terms within the two-year duration of the course. Each unit consists of ten sessions and these sessions are made available to participants weekly throughout the terms. Alongside activities within each unit to support learning, a graded online quiz is provided at the end of each unit. Four assignments are set across the two years and these form the main assessments for the Diploma. We also provide suggested reading lists. The study days/weekends provide an opportunity to meet course colleagues and tutors as well as take part in some focused learning. Excursions on the study days will enable students to visit a range of fascinating Scottish gardens.
- Do I need any prior knowledge?
No previous knowledge about garden history is required. The course is set at first year degree level and is very accessible for interested students.
Those with botanical and/or horticultural backgrounds will be more familiar with some concepts whilst students with previous historical knowledge will be able to appreciate the changes in garden design and gardening in a wider context.
For those with little experience and who wish to increase or progress their horticultural or botanical knowledge either prior to application or during the Diploma, one of the following courses run by the RBGE is recommended:
- RHS (Level 2) Horticulture (attended or online)
- The RBGE Certificate in Practical Horticulture (attended with online resources)
- Getting started with…Botany (attended or online)
- How much time would I need to dedicate to this course?
An average of four to five hours study each week is recommended to complete the course.
- What support is available?
Online technical and tutor support will be available via the discussion forums in the course and of course at the study days.
- What is the course fee?
The RBGE Diploma in Garden History currently costs £2,800. Fees should be paid in full by the start of the course. Details of any additional costs to be borne by students are included in the Handbook. Refund policy (opens in a new window)
- How do I apply?
Online Course (with study weekends) 2023-25
To apply for the blended course 2023-25 you must complete the online form.
Applications close on the 7th August 2023 at 5pm.
If you would like to receive details of the next course when they become available, please complete the enquiry form.
"As a professional gardener looking to increase my understanding of garden history and associated management this course is proving to be a real asset. Combining classroom based teaching with field visits and self-guided study it has inspired me to delve deeper into previously unknown areas of garden history, improving my general knowledge of the subject and enabling me to look at historic gardens with new eyes."
Kate, Diploma student
This course is endorsed by the Gardens Trust