Proficiency Award 3 in Horticultural Science SPECIAL

Study this Proficiency Award 3 in horticultural science and build a career with strong foundations in both horticulture and science, learning though our horticultural home study college.

Course CodeVHT027
Fee CodeSODI
Duration (approx)2100 hours
QualificationProficiency Award 3

It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method

I am studying from...

Enable Javascript to automatically update prices.

All prices in Australian Dollars.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!

SPECIAL ONLINE OFFER for a limited time .

WAS $9363.00 NOW $7952.45 - Australia
SAVE over $1410

WAS $8512.45 NOW $7229.50 - Outside Australia
SAVE  $1280

What will a Proficiency Award 3 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 40 books and maintained a small practice as a horticultural consultant.

John has been made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture (UK) and the Parks and Leisure Institute (Australia).

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.


What makes the ACS Proficiency Award unique?

The proficiency awards offer a tiered award system - so you don't have to wait until the end of your qualification to have an award.

How does that work?

Once you have completed 6 modules, you can receive an ACS Certificate. Complete 8 (plus 100hrs work experience), and receive an ACS Advanced Certificate. Complete 10 and receive a ACS Proficiency Award 1. Complete 14 (plus 100hrs work experience and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 2. Complete 20 modules (plus 100hrs work experience) and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 3. Complete 24 modules (plus 100hrs Work Experience) and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 4.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Proficiency Award 3 in Horticultural Science SPECIAL.
 Biochemistry I (Plants) BSC102
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Horticulture II (Plant Knowledge) BHT102
 Horticulture III (Plant Health) BHT116
 Plant Selection And Establishment BHT107
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 0 of the following 26 modules.
 Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy) BSC104
 Garden Maintenance VHT100
 Landscaping I BHT109
 Outdoor Plant Production (Crops I) BHT112
 Propagation I BHT108
 Soil Management (Horticulture) BHT105
 Turf Care BHT104
 Biochemistry II (Plant & Animal) BSC203
 Botany II (Plant Growth and Development) BSC204
 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
 Amenity Horticulture I BHT324
 Amenity Horticulture II BHT325
 Biochemistry III (Plant Processes) BSC302
 Organic Plant Culture BHT302
 Plant Ecology BSC305
 Tissue Culture BHT306
 Turf Grasses BHT342
 Turf Repair And Renovation BHT303

Note that each module in the Proficiency Award 3 in Horticultural Science SPECIAL is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


Stage 1 Core Studies 

Note: Modules from either stages II & III may be undertaken after stage I is complete.


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

Stage II Electives

These modules can be seen in detail by clicking on any of those listed previously

Other options may be considered, though the above are generally considered the better options for this particular course.

Stage III Compulsory Modules

Compulsory Modules include:

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.

Note: Prerequisites:   We normally assume either year 12 (passed), an acceptable certificate (eg. 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 - Diploma in Horticultural Science.


All horticulture jobs are increasingly requiring the application of science. They can be categorised 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 box' 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

Need assistance?

Start Now!


Marie Beerman

Marie has over 7 years in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie has been a co author of several ebooks in recent years, including "Roses" and "Climbing Plants". Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M.Hort. Dip. Bus. Cert. Ldsc
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
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
Adriana Fraser

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer , teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient li
Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs
Home grown produce somehow has a special quality. Some say it tastes better, others believe it is just healthier. And there is no doubt it is cheaper! Watching plants grow from seed to harvest and knowing that the armful of vegies and herbs you have just
Garden Design Part 1
This stunning full colour Garden Design ebook is full of useful tips, information and inspiration. It contains around 300 colour illustrations! It is comprised of three parts: Design, How a Garden Functions and Aesthetics (making it look good).
Getting Work in Horticulture
Find out what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse the industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion chan
Growing Ferns
A complete guide to growing Ferns in Australia, New Zealand and beyond. A great reference for professional and amateur gardeners, and fern enthusiasts from anywhere around the world.
Growing Trees & Shrubs for Small Gardens
Turn even the smallest space into a great place. This e-book is an essential guide for any gardener who wants to make the most of a small garden, balcony, verandah or courtyard.
Growing & Knowing Fuchsias
Get to know fuchsias better with the "Growing & Knowing Fuchsias" ebook. Beautiful flowers filling your garden with a burst of colour.
Growing & Knowing Nuts
This ebook uncovers the many different varieties of nuts that are found around the world and also some interesting facts about more common nuts that you are probably familiar with.
Growing & Using Perennial Plants
This beautiful ebook will give you inspiration to get out into the garden and planting perennial plants. With 215 pages bursting with colour pictures and so much information on growing, maintaining and getting the most out of your perennial plants, this e
Growing and Knowing Grasses
With full colour pictures and descriptions of plants, this ebook is a must-have for gardeners, landscapers, green keeper or home-gardener who wants to broaden their knowledge on different grasses and their uses.
Growing & Using Capsicums & Chillies
Get to know more about Capsicums and Chillies with this vibrant ebook- Growing and Using Capsicums & Chillies. With 71 pages of fantastic information on Capsicums and Chillies, this ebook is ideal for any gardener, home cook, horticulture student or ca
Growing & Knowing Lavender
Written by John Mason, this ebook is 117 pages of wonderfully illustrated pages that explain the different lavenders, different names and growing conditions. This ebook also looks at uses for lavender in the garden, home and even business opportunities.
Growing & Knowing Grevilleas
Get to know more about Grevilleas with the "Growing and Knowing Grevilleas" ebook. Written by John Mason and the staff of ACS Distance Education, this ebook is 134 pages of colour pictures and information on grevillea varieties, propagation, landscaping a
Cucumbers Pumpkins Marrows and other Cucurbits
The Cucumbers Pumpkins Marrows and other Cucurbits ebook will provide you with a guide in everything that you will need to know about these very useful plants. Learn more about the different and sometimes unusual varieties that are available of these plan