Advanced Certificate in Horticultural Science

Learn the application of science in horticulture- work in areas such as botanical gardens or crop growing. Professional development course or for those passionate about plant science.

Course CodeVHT084
Fee CodeAC
Duration (approx)900 hours
QualificationAdvanced Certificate

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Nurture Your Passion for Science 

Gain professional skills in applied horticultural science.

This course gives opportunities to the students looking 'outside of the square' and expand their careers in horticulture. Opportunities exist in management, teaching, research etc. Very appealing to those that have already worked in the field for many years and are looking for a new challenge. Also as relevant to those interested in horticulture but wanting to broaden their options.

What will a Study in Horticultural Science give you?

The ability to:

  • Work in a professional horticultural role in nurseries

  • Work as a horticultural consultant across many sectors

  • Work as a teacher 

  • Work in research

  • Work as a technician

Horticultural technicians and scientists need to have a strong foundation in both horticulture and science. They need to know how to identify lots of different plants, and the botany and chemistry that underpins an understanding of how to grow those plants .

Train for a Career and work in:

  • Nurseries, Farms Allied Horticultural Trades

  • Parks, Gardens, Landscaping, Turf, Tree Management

  • Environmental Management

  • Consulting, Teaching, Media, etc.

Whatever is in vogue at different times throughout your career, this course will prepare you to move into and adapt to working in that part of the industry.

Course Manager

This course has been designed, and is managed by John Mason, our principal. Since graduating in horticultural science (1971), John has worked as a landscape designer, nurseryman, parks manager and research officer working with field crops, prior to establishing this school in 1979. Since then, apart from managing this school he has been editor of 4 national gardening magazines, written over 150 books and maintained a small practice as a horticultural consultant.

John has been made a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture (UK), the Australian Institute of Horticulture and the Parks and Leisure Institute (Australia). He also serves as one of 12 board members on the Australian Garden Council; established in 2016 by Graham Ross and other key industry leaders.

Horticulture has changed dramatically in recent decades and will no doubt continue to change rapidly; but there will always remain a need for horticulturists while we continue to eat fruit and vegetables, play sport and use tree planting to improve the environment in which we live.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Horticultural Science.
 Biochemistry I (Plants) BSC102
 Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy) BSC104
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Plant Selection And Establishment BHT107
 Botany II (Plant Growth and Development) BSC204
 Tissue Culture BHT306
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 26 modules.
 Engineering I - Machinery & Equipment BSC105
 Garden Maintenance VHT100
 Horticulture II (Plant Knowledge) BHT102
 Horticulture III (Plant Health) BHT116
 Landscaping I BHT109
 Outdoor Plant Production (Crops I) BHT112
 Propagation I BHT108
 Soil Management (Horticulture) BHT105
 Turf Care BHT104
 Biochemistry II (Plant & Animal) BSC203
 Cutting Propagation BHT211
 Landscaping II BHT214
 Landscaping III (Landscaping Styles) BHT235
 Microbiology BSC209
 Permaculture Systems BHT201
 Planning Layout And Construction Of Ornamental Gardens BHT242
 Plant Protection BHT207
 Restoring Established Ornamental Gardens BHT243
 Sports Turf Management BHT202
 Trees For Rehabilitation (Landcare Reafforestation) BHT205
 Amenity Horticulture I BHT324
 Amenity Horticulture II BHT325
 Biochemistry III (Plant Processes) BSC302
 Organic Plant Culture BHT302
 Plant Ecology BSC305
 Turf Repair And Renovation BHT303

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Horticultural Science is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


Details of Selected Modules:

Horticulture I

There are twelve lessons in this course, as follows:

1. Plant Identification
2. Planting
3. Soils
4. Nutrition
5. Water Management
6. Pruning
7. Weeds
8. Pests and Diseases
9. Landscaping
10. Propagation
11. Lawns
12. Arboriculture

Horticulture II

The content of each of the ten lessons is outlined below:

1. The Groups of Plants
2. Use of Plants
3. Australian Native Plants
4. Exotic Ornamental Plants
5. Indoor & Tropical Plants
6. Bedding Plants
7. Vegetables
8. Fruits, Nuts & Berries
9. Herbs
10. Alternative Growing Techniques

Horticulture III (Plant Health)

1. There are ten lessons in this module, as follows:
2. Introduction
3. Overview of Preventative Controls
4. Insecticides
5. Other Pesticides
6. Spray Equipment
7. Insect Biology
8. Fungal Biology
9. Environmental Problems
10. Viruses 
11. Nematodes, Molluscs and Crustaceans

Plant Selection and Establishment

There are ten lessons in this course as follows:

1. Introduction
2. Woody plants
3. Windbreaks, hedges and screens
4. Alpine and water plants
5. Annual and herbaceous plants
6. Turf
7. Maintenance
8. Pest and disease control
9. Weed control
10. Risk assessment

Botany I

There are ten lessons in this module as follows:

1. Taxonomic Classification of Plants
2. Cells and Tissues
3. Specific Vegetative Parts of a Plant
4. Flowers and Fruit
5. Seed and the Developing Embryo
6. Photosynthesis and Growing Plants
7. Respiration
8. he Role of Water
9. Movement of Water and Assimilates through a Plant
10.The Effects of Growth Movements

Biochemistry I (Plants)

There are nine lessons as follows:

1. Introduction
2. Lipids & Proteins
3. Enzymes
4. Nitrogen & the Nitrogen Cycle
5. Photosynthesis & Respiration
6. Assimilation & Transpiration
7. Acidity & Alkalinity
8. Chemical Analysis
9. Biochemical Applications


Cell Biology

There are 10 lessons in this module as follows:

1.  Introduction to Cells and Their Structure
2.  Cell Chemistry
3.  DNA, Chromosomes and Genes
4.  Cell Division: Meiosis and Mitosis
5.  Cell Membranes
6.  Protein Structure and Function
7.  Protein Synthesis
8.  Food, Energy, Catalysis and Biosynthesis
9.  Intracellular Compartments, Transport and Cell Communication
10. The Cell Cycle and Tissue Formation

Biochemistry II

There are nine lessons in this module as follows:

1. Introduction to Biochemical Molecules
2. Amino Acids
3. Structure of Proteins
4. Protein Dynamics
5. Sugars and Polysaccharides
6. Lipids (Fats) and Membranes
7. Enzymes, Vitamins and Hormones
8. DNA and RNA
9. Laboratory Techniques

Horticultural Research I

This course contains seven lessons:

1. Determining Research Needs
2. Searching for Information
3. Research Methods
4. Using Statistics
5. Conducting Statistical Research
6. Research Reports
7. Reporting on a Research Project

Horticultural Research II

There are 7 lessons in this module as follows:

1. Identifying research issues and determining research priorities
2. Acquisition of technical information
3. Specialised research techniques
4. Research planning and designing
5. Statistics
6. Conducting research
7. Writing reports

Industry Meetings or Workshop I (Note: this can be completed without difficulty anywhere in the world).

Workshop I

There are three lessons in Workshop I; each involving a different PBL Project

  1. Workplace Tools, Equipment and Materials: Identifying and describing the operation of tools and equipment used in the workplace; routine maintenance of tools and equipment; identifying and comparing materials used in the workplace; using different materials to perform workplace tasks.

  2. Workplace Skills: Determining key practical skills in the workplace; identifying and comparing commonly-performed workplace tasks; determining acceptable standards for workplace tasks; implementing techniques for improving workplace efficiency.

  3. Workplace Safety: Identifying health and safety risks in the workplace; complying with industry OH&S standards; developing safety guidelines for handling dangerous items.


All teaching staff are highly qualified and experienced professional horticulturists. Most hold both degrees an post graduate qualifications. On average, their industry experience exceeds 20 years.  

A unique aspect of this course (and others through ACS) is that tutors and course developers come from both northern and southern hemispheres, and from both warm and cool climates. The content and delivery of the course aims to prepare you to work in any climate, country or social situation. We consider this aim to be exceedingly important in a world that is changing so rapidly. We aim to provide a foundation that will serve you wherever you find yourself in the future.

Prerequisites:   We normally assume either year 12 (passed), an acceptable certificate (e.g. completed apprenticeship) or over 21 yrs of age.

Student Comment:

"I have found the course to be interesting and challenging, with great learning materials that really make you research the industry and get involved. It has been a great way to study because it has allowed me to work in the industry and study at the same time. I have found the online resources to be fantastic, the tutors feedback constructive and the fact that assignments can be submitted online makes the process so easy." Tom Wood, Australia - Learning Program in Horticultural Science 2000hrs.


All horticulture jobs are increasingly requiring the application of science. They can be categorized in many different ways, but broadly, cover the following.

Amenity Horticulture – covers anything that is concerned with creating or enhancing an environment that is more functional or aesthetically pleasing. Areas for employment include: turf care, parks, botanic gardens, National Trust gardens, reserves, cityscapes, and private gardens. Employees may have skills in landscape design and construction, arboriculture, and gardening.

Production Horticulture – covers enterprises that are creating products from plants; including fruits, vegetables, and nursery stock, to crops harvested for oil production or seeds. Hydroponics and aquaponics are also specialised areas of this industry.  

General Horticulture – these are jobs that overlap the areas of production and amenity horticulture (e.g. a teacher may teach methods and techniques associated with both groups, a writer may write for both types of industry, and a scientist may undertake research which is relevant to both.

Science and Technology - scientific and technological developments are increasingly being applied to horticulture; and often a horticultural scientis can find themself bridging both production and amenity horticulture throughout their career. While scientists may have once been "academics" working in research or teching; they have increasingly now become hybrids: the scientist/manager; the scientist/business entrepeneur; or something els.

Many horticultural jobs are in small businesses. Opportunities abound for self-employment in this industry; it is common for graduates from horticulture courses to spend at least part of their working life running their own business.

Small businesses do employ horticultural staff too - but opportunities are obviously always going to be limited if you work for a relatively small business. In countries and regions with clearly defined seasons, there may be less work during the winter months. For instance, a small landscaping business may recruit additional staff over the spring and summer but be unable to keep them employed over the winter. Having a wide range of skills will offer an employee greater resistance to seasonal changes in employment.

Over the years governments (generally) have gone through cycles of employing but then sacking large numbers of staff. In recent times, large companies - including some that may have existed for over 100 years and which were formerly regarded as being a secure employer - have closed divisions and sacked employees on a large scale.

Whilst there are opportunities to move along a career pathway with some of the long-established horticultural enterprises (e.g. from gardener, to supervisor, to manager), in a world that is changing as fast as it has been in recent years, it is wise to consider how uncertain the future of any career pathway might be. This applies to all industries - not just horticulture.

Where can you go from here?

This course gives opportunities to the students looking 'outside of the square' and expand their careers in horticulture.

Opportunities exist in management, teaching, research etc. Very appealing to those that have already worked in the field for many years and are looking for a new challenge. Also as relevant to those interested in starting out in horticulture but wanting to broaden their options. 

This course may be of particular value to people working in or wishing to work in:


  • Horticultural research

  • Horticultural science

  • Teaching

  • Botany

  • Horticultural consultation

  • Agronomy

  • Crop development

  • Plant breeding

  • Nursery work


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Marie Beermann

Marie has more than 10 years experience in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M. Sc. Hort., Dip. Bus., Cert. Ldscp.
Rosemary Davies

Leading horticultural expert in Australia. Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (c
Jade Sciascia

Biologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager. Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Di
Robert James

B.App. Sc. (Horticulture), Dip.Ag., M.Sc., Grad Dip.Mgt. Over 50 years experience that includes, Nursery Manager Brisbane City Councoil, Grounds Manager (University of Qld), Lecturer Qld Agricultural College, Propagator/Nurseryman at Aspley Nursery, Hort