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 Code: VHT084
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced 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



Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

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What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course is aimed at providing you with a solid understanding of the subject. It has been designed to take 600 hours, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and more. When you complete the course, will have a good understanding of the area/ industry you want to work in.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exams (8-9 exams) and you will be able receive your course certificate- an Advanced Certificate. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

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ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

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We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

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 (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer.
She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe.
In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others.
Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

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.

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, Dip.Professional Education, Cert IV TESOL, Cert Food Hygiene.

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