Advanced Certificate in Parks & Leisure (Environment)

Professional training to a high level for parks or leisure industry managers. Learn the science, management and technical components that underpin a successful career for managers, technicians, consultants and other industry professionals.

Course CodeVEN036
Fee CodeAC
Duration (approx)900 hours
QualificationAdvanced Certificate

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Learn to be Responsible for Public Green Spaces

Each town and city has a range of parks and other green spaces which are available for public use. Often when you go to a town you have not visited before, the quality and presentation of those green spaces leaves a lasting impression on you. If the parks and streetscapes are attractive and well maintained with lots of trees and greenery you are more likely to think that the residents care about their local environment.  

This course prepares students for roles in parks and leisure management. It includes the study of a broad range of leisure facilities and different approaches to managing those resources. Students also learn valuable horticulture knowledge and skills along the way. 


Would you like to care and manage parks, natural parks, holiday and recreation resort facilities? Then this is the course to do. This course provides training for people to work in the management and development of recreation and park facilities and services. It is relevant to all types of situations including municipal parks, national parks, tourist parks, commercial landscapes, resorts, etc.


This learning bundle involves both core studies and electives. Core modules are compulsory, electives are chosen to suit your particular specialisation or work needs.



The core modules would normally be completed before anything else. Beyond that it is possible for you to determine your order of studies.

Note: Fees cover all tuition and "essential" texts.
They do not include fees for any Industry conferences or seminars which are attended.

Note: Course fee does not include exam fees




Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Parks & Leisure (Environment).
 Horticultural Research I BHT118
 Nature Park Management I BEN120
 Turf Care BHT104
 Horticultural Resource Management BHT203
 Leisure Facility Management I BRE205
 Amenity Horticulture I BHT324
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 36 modules.
 Aquarium Management BEN105
 Arboriculture I BHT106
 Bookkeeping Foundations (Bookkeeping I) BBS103
 Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy) BSC104
 Carpentry BSS100
 Ecotour Management BTR101
 Engineering I - Machinery & Equipment BSC105
 Food & Beverage Management BTR102
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Horticulture II (Plant Knowledge) BHT102
 Landscaping I BHT109
 Leisure Management 1 - Marketing BRE103
 Leisure Management II - Human Resources BRE104
 Soil Management (Horticulture) BHT105
 Arboriculture II BHT208
 Conservation and Environmental Management BEN201
 Engineering II - Engineering Applications BSC205
 Environmental Waste Management BEN202
 Event Management BRE209
 Horticultural Research II BHT241
 Irrigation (Gardens) BHT210
 Leisure Management III - Administration BRE204
 Nature Park Management II BEN207
 Playground Design BHT216
 Project Management - Special Offer BBS201
 Sports Turf Management BHT202
 Trees For Rehabilitation (Landcare Reafforestation) BHT205
 Zoo Keeping BEN208
 Amenity Horticulture II BHT325
 Bush Tucker Plants BHT328
 Ecotourism Tour Guide Course BTR301
 Horticultural Marketing BHT304
 Leisure Facility Management II BRE306
 Leisure Management IV - Policies & Procedures BRE305
 Operational Business Management I (Horticulture) BHT326
 Operational Business Management II (Horticulture) BHT327

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Parks & Leisure (Environment) is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


There are many different types of parks, and that means there can be many different types of parks management jobs.

Large organisations may employ a senior manager, and a series of deputy or sub managers. Smaller organisations may only employ a single manager.

Parks managers need to be knowledgeable in a wide range of things; from horticulture to managing the sustainable use of land resources; to management and planning in areas of staffing, finance and day to day operations. 

Parks managers may be responsible for small or large areas of parkland, in urban or rural areas, and either public owned or privately owned facilities. The role of the parks manager will ultimately depend upon the types and sizes of facilities they care for. These may include:

  • Wilderness areas

  • Urban Parks

  • Countryside parks

  • Wildlife parks and zoos

  • Holiday resorts

  • Tourist Theme Parks


Meet our Principal John Mason

John Mason has years of experience as a horticulturalist and park manager. After graduating from Burnley Horticultural College in 1971; Mr. Mason established a nursery and landscape business in Melbourne. After two years in private enterprise he took up the position of Superintendent of Parks and Gardens for the Shire of Melton. During three and a half years at Melton, he designed and built 42 new play areas (prior to his appointment, this 200 square mile municipality boasted less than 10 playgrounds).

In mid of 1977 Mr. Mason moved to the City of Essendon to become their first Director of Parks and Recreation. In a little over a year at Essendon several innovative projects commenced, including Montgomery Park.

Late in 1978 he was offered a new position (part time) with the Playgrounds and Recreation Association of Victoria; to promote and develop the concept of community groups building their own playgrounds through voluntary labour and use of recycled and donated materials. A little over two years (and more than a hundred playgrounds later) he left this position (due to withdrawal of government funding) to establish an Australian branch of Playground Clearing House Inc. (Paul Hogan's American Community Playground Organisation).
In the early 80's, John also worked for a period as Superintendent of Parks for the City of Heidelberg.

Whilst successfully operating Playground Clearing House for several years, Mr. Mason founded the Australian Horticultural Correspondence School (now ACS Distance Education) and a freelance consultant in park planning and management.

ACS Distance Education now offers over 600 different courses.

John Mason is a former Australian National representative for the International Playgrounds Association, former Victorian Secretary and Vice President of the Australian Institute of Horticulture, President of the Latrobe University Biology Society, and member of many professional bodies, including:

  • A fellow of Parks and Leisure Australia (formerly The Royal Australian Institute of Parks and Recreation)

  • Fellow of the Australian Institute of Horticulture

  • Fellow of the (UK) Institute of Horticulture

  • Member of the Australian Council of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

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Brief Outlines for Core Modules

  • Biochemistry Plants
    Biochemistry is the chemistry of living things. This 
    introductory course concentrates on the chemistry of either animals or 
    plants. Some secondary school chemistry will be helpful though it 
    is not essential. Lessons cover biochemical substances and 
    terms, carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, proteins, 
    metabolism, the nitrogen cycle, photosynthesis, respiration, 
    transpiration, acidity and alkalinity, nutrition, hormones, 
    chemical analysis and biochemical applications in the 


  • Workplace Health and Safety 
    An important subject area applicable to all industries. This 
    course covers the following topics: 
    * Introduction to workplace health and safety, procedures, duty of care 
    * Legislation 
    * Handling chemicals, including pesticides, cleaning chemicals, explosives, petrol 
    * Handling equipment: tools and machinery 
    * Handling objects: lifting, manual handling 
    * Standards and rules: safety audits, codes of practice 
    * Signs and signals: communicating in the presence of noise, eye problems, hazardous chemicals


  • Project Management

There are nine lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction
    Understanding what project management is, and what its applications might be.

  2. Project Identification
    Identification and defining projects which need management.

  3. Project Planning
    Developing a strategy and framework for the plan.

  4. Project Implementation
    Managers duties during implementation, developing a Preparation Control Chart,
    Regulating implementation.

  5. Project Completion & Evaluation
    Dangers in this stage, Steps in Project completion, Declaring a project sustainable,
    Developing an evaluation method.

  6. Technical Project Management Skills
    Preparing a proposal, budget control/management, steps in drawing up a 
    post project appraisal.

  7. Leadership Skills
    Styles of leadership, leadership principles and methods.

  8. Improving Key Personnel Skills
    Listening skills, Negotiation skills, Conflict management.

  9. Major Assignment
    Developing full documentation for a project.


  • Instructional Skills
    There are 11 lessons with a written assignment to be submitted at the end of each lesson as follows:

1. Introduction to Training – Communication
2. Understanding Learning
3. Determining Training Requirements in The Workplace
4. Commencing Training
5. Developing a Lesson Plan
6. Assessment and Evaluation of Training Programs
7. Training Aids
8. One-To-One Training
9. Motivation Skills and Techniques
10. Promoting Training
11. Assessor Training


  • Horticulture I

There are twelve lessons in this course, as follows:

1. Plant Identification: Naming plants; distinguishing the taxonomic divisions of plants including family, genus, species and variety or hybrid; identifying the different parts of a flower; distinguishing the morphological characteristics of leaves.

2. Planting: Planting methods used for different types of plants including annuals, perennials, evergreen and deciduous plants; influence of environmental factors on planting techniques.

3. Soils: Classifying soils; sampling and testing soils; chemical and physical properties of soils; soil improvement techniques; composting; potting mixes.

4. Nutrition: Major and micro elements necessary for plant growth; nutrient deficiencies and toxicities; fertilisers.

5. Water Management: Irrigation systems – characteristics, advantages and disadvantages; drainage systems; waterwise gardening.

6. Pruning: Pruning techniques; importance of pruning to growth, flowering and fruiting; pruning tools.

7. Weeds: Identifying common weeds; characteristics of weeds; control techniques; herbicides.

8. Pests and Diseases: Identifying common insect and disease problems; control methods; Integrated Pest Management; pesticides; hygiene procedures; chemical safety.

9. Landscaping: Stages of landscaping; design procedures; collating pre-planning information; preparing plans; selecting plants for specified sites.

10. Propagation: Asexual and sexual propagation; taking cuttings; sowing seeds; aftercare of propagated plants.

11. Lawns: Turf grass varieties; laying a new lawn; cultural techniques including watering, fertilizing, topdressing, aerating, pest and disease control.

12. Arboriculture: Tree management techniques including pruning, removal and tree surgery; identifying tree problems.


  • Arboriculture I

There are eight lessons in this module, as follows:

  1. Introduction To Arboriculture

  2. Tree Biology

  3. Soils In Relation To Trees

  4. Diagnosing Tree Problems

  5. Tree Surgery

  6. Pruning Of Trees

  7. Arboricultural Equipment

  8. Workplace Health & Safety.

  • Turf Care

There are eleven lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction - Turf Varieties

  2. Turf Grass Physiology

  3. Turf Establishment

  4. Soils

  5. Turf Weed Problems

  6. Turf Pests & Diseases

  7. Turf Maintenance Techniques

  8. Irrigation - An Overview

  9. Playing Fields & Bowling Greens

  10. Managing Established Turf

  11. Establishing Ornamental Turf


  • Irrigation

There are 10 lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction to Irrigation

  2. Soil Characteristics & Problems

  3. Estimating Plant Needs & Irrigation Scheduling

  4. Drainage

  5. Types of Irrigation Systems

  6. Trickle Systems

  7. Design Specifications

  8. Pumps & Filters

  9. Selecting the Right System for a Plant

  10. Design & Operation of Systems.

  • Playground Design I

There are eight lessons in this unit as follows:

  1. Overview of Parks & Playgrounds

  2. Playground Philosophy

  3. Preparing a Concept Plan

  4. Materials

  5. Park & Playground Structures and Materials

  6. Local and Neighbourhood Parks

  7. Community Participation In Park Development

  8. Special Assignment.

  • Recreation Marketing 
    The course is divided into ten lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction to Marketing

  2. Marketing Strategy

  3. Media Promotions

  4. Promotional Materials

  5. Complaints

  6. Managing Membership Levels

  7. Sponsorship & Fundraising

  8. Managing Events

  9. Managing Promotional Activities

  10. Market sensitive recreation services.

  • Recreation Management-Human Resources

Lessons are structured as follows:

  1. Work Schedules

  2. Work Teams

  3. Workplace Efficiency

  4. Recruitment

  5. Staff Performance

  6. Workplace Communications

  7. Staff Grievances

  8. Developing a Staff Manual

  • Recreation Management -Financial/Clerical

There are eight lessons as follows:

  1. Financial Analysis

  2. Budget Control

  3. Legal Requirements

  4. Funding Opportunities

  5. Workplace Communications

  6. Managing Documents

  7. Managing a Resource Library

  8. Managing Information Technology


Other Courses/Studies we offer:

You can also study Certificates, Associate Diplomas or vocational (career) studies in Ecology, Botany, Plant Ecology, Zoology, Horticulture (Nature Park Management), Wildlife Management, Environment Management, Earth Science, Marine Studies, Waste Management and much more.



ACS is an Organisational Member of the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning
ACS is an Organisational Member of the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

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

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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
John Mason

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and edito
Gavin Cole

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer. He was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up his own landscaping firm. He spent three year
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
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