Certificate in Plant Science

This course provides a broad understanding of how plants function and grow, covering botany, ecology and pathology. It also builds on your ability to solve problems, communicate and adapt your career wherever you find work.

Course CodeVSC009
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

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Applied Plant Science - Study Online

Science and Technology - it's the catch-cry of governments everywhere as they recognise the importance of science to industry and development worldwide.
It's also where the jobs will be in the future: so now is the time to lay the foundations, and turn your interest in plants and the natural world into a rewarding career.

Study our Certificate in Plant Science and See Where it Can Take You!

A course like this can be a foundation for either further studies or working in any of a wide variety of plant related industries from farming, horticulture and forestry to research education or environmental management.

Take the first step to lay a sound foundation to work in Plant or Environmental Sciences: as a technician, in services, sales or supplies.

This course provides a very broad understanding of how plants function and grow, and aims to also build an awareness of industry, contacts and networking amongst employers and peers, and an ability to solve problems, communicate and adapt your career wherever you find work.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Plant Science.
 Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy) BSC104
 Botany II (Plant Growth and Development) BSC204
 Plant Pathology BHT206
 Plant Ecology BSC305
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 7 modules.
 Biochemistry I (Plants) BSC102
 Biochemistry II (Plant & Animal) BSC203
 Plant Breeding BHT236
 Trees For Rehabilitation (Landcare Reafforestation) BHT205
 Statistics BSC304
 Technical Writing (Advanced) BWR301
 Tissue Culture BHT306

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

Do You Understand Plant Physiology?

The angiosperms (the group of plants whose seeds are borne within a mature ovary – a fruit) make up much of the visible world of modern plants. Flowering plants are everywhere – lawns, gardens, shrubs, trees, fields of wheat and corn, wildflowers, duckweed and water lilies, cacti and prickly pears. Angiosperms make up the division Anthophyta, which includes about 235,000 species – the largest division of photosynthetic organisms. The division is divided into two classes – the Monocotyledons (the monocots) and the Dicotyledons (the dicots).

Plant growth is the process by which a plant increases in size, creating more leaves and stems. Plant development is the process by which plants change from one stage of growth to the next. These stages include juvenility, maturity, flowering and seeding. Plant development involves differentiation of the plant into specialised parts. This may include visible changes such as the structural organisation of the plant and new patterns of growth as well as less visible changes such as localised biochemical and metabolic activity.

Growth and development are characteristics not only of the entire plant, but also of each cell within that plant. Active cell division occurs in parts of the plant called meristems. Cell division results in growth in length and diameter of the plant, and in the differentiation of specialised plant organs. Differentiation results in the development of individual plant parts such as stems, leaves, new shoots, flowers, fruits, seed and other structures.

The Flowering Response

For plants to flower they must first go through a vegetative phase, during which the main processes are elongation of the stem and roots and increase in stem girth. The end of the vegetative phase is marked by flower initiation, whereby the vegetative shoot apex undergoes a sequence of physiological and structural changes to become a reproductive apex (reproductive apical meristem – that which develops into a flower or an inflorescence). The transition from a vegetative to a floral apex is often preceded by an elongation of the internodes and the early development of lateral buds below the shoot apex. The apex undergoes a marked increase in mitotic activity, accompanied by changes in dimensions and organisation. The development of the flower or inflorescence terminates the meristematic activity of the vegetative shoot apex. When these flowers are formed, the plant is prepared for sexual reproduction.

In as much as the reproductive apex exhibits a determinate growth pattern, flowering in annuals indicates that the plant is approaching completion of its life cycle. By contrast, flowering in perennials may be repeated again and again.

The period from germination to the time the seedling becomes established as an independent organism constitutes the most crucial phase in the life history of the plant. During this period, the plant is susceptible to injury by insect pests and parasitic fungi, and water stress can very rapidly result in death.

The stimuli for flower induction includes hormonal changes and environmental changes, such as day length (photoperiod) and temperature.

Genes control Flowering

We know that many different genes are involved in controlling the time at which a plant produces flowers. These genes cause and control certain biochemical pathways (i.e. sequences of chemical reactions). These pathways are not fully understood; however we do know that control of flowering time involves the integration of not one, but a number of biochemical signals.


One of these pathways has been studied and understood in the genus Arabidopsis, a Brassicaceae plant, related to mustard.

In this plant, the flowering time is affected by at least two different processes:

  • Vernilisation (ie. Environmental conditions stimulate flower initiation), and
  • Non-environmental genetic characteristics (i.e. Genes cause biochemical processes that can suppress the initiation of flowering)

More specifically, two different proteins (FCA and FY) interact to control the location at which a sequence off polyadenylic acid is spliced onto an RNA molecule in a gene (called the polyadenylation site).

Where Can This Course Take Me?

With this foundation knowledge in plant science, a whole range of career paths become open to you. Extend what you learn with further study, or combine what you learn with your existing skills and experience to progress in your current field. Move ahead or branch of in new directions!

Just a few examples of possible career paths and employers:
  • Technical or Research officer - with government departments such as Agriculture, Parks and Wildlife, Natural Resources and more or private industry.
  • Education industry
  • Environmental rehabilitation
  • Nursery industry
  • Horticulture industry
  • Grounds Maintenance and Landscaping
  • Small Business - plant hire services
  • Function Centres and Special Events
  • Floristry
  • Sales
  • Council and Local Government - Landscaping, Beautification, Weed Management
  • Town Planning and Urban Renewal
  • Science Writer - Blogs, Newspapers, Magazines..

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Dr. Lynette Morgan

Broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
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
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