RHS Theory

RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Garden Planning, Construction and Planting

Course dates at RytonTimePlacesPrice
17th September 20219.30am16£884.40

Enrol for this course

 The RHS are in the process of introducing new qualifications at level 2 and 3, for first teaching in September 2022.

The current Level 3 Certificate in Garden Planning, Construction and Planting will be taught at Ryton in September 2021 and will continue to be available online and as a correspondence course in 2022, with examinations continuing for another year at least,  but students are advised to consider that there is now a limited time in which to achieve their qualification.

The new format for Level 3 will include one theory Certificate and a practical Certificate, which together will form an Advanced Certificate. There is currently no proposed Certificate in Plant Science. A research project can be added to achieve a Level 3 Diploma. Also it will normally be necessary to complete the two level 2 Certificates before starting level 3.

A transition plan between old and new certificates was drawn up by the RHS before the introduction of the new syllabus was postponed until 2022; a revised version is expected.

A level 3 qualification from the RHS can help you to move upwards in your horticultural career. The National Trust and many other employers require level 3 qualifications for supervisory roles, and the RHS qualification builds on Level 2 skills to focus on a deeper understanding of horticulture, and on more professional techniques. Keen gardeners can challenge themselves, and develop their skills to a professional level. 

This course looks at garden history and design principles, the planning of private gardens and public spaces, and includes an outline of setting out and construction for hard landscaping; it builds up plant knowledge for a wide range of planting styles and contemporary garden situations. 


What will I study?

You will study four units, which make together make up this certificate; these are:

  • Garden Survey Techniques and Design Principles
  • Selection and Use of Landscaping Elements in the Garden
  • Setting Out and Construction of Landscaping Elements in the Garden
  • A Range of Specialist Elements in the Establishment of Garden and Urban Plantings

What is covered?

Click here for the RHS Level 3 Syllabus which provides you with a complete overview of the course.

How is it delivered and assessed?

This qualification is classroom based; teaching consists of lectures and practical demonstrations with outdoor discussions where relevant. Each unit is assessed by a short written examination set by the Royal Horticultural Society in February and June each year.

There is no compulsory course work, but you will be given frequent opportunities to work on past examination questions to prepare you for the exams.

What qualification will I get?

When you have passed exams in all the units, the Royal Horticultural Society will award a Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Garden Planning, Construction and Planting.

If you successfully complete the other theory Certificate, and the RHS Level 3 Practical Certificate in Horticulture as well, the RHS will award you a Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture.

What is the cost and venue(s)?

Tuition fees are £625, the RHS examination fees are £112.00, total payable £737 plus VAT @ 20% is £884.40. 

You can prepay £884.40 for your complete course, or you can secure your place on the course with a non-refundable booking fee, payable on enrolment, of 25% of the full cost of the course. This is payable as the first instalment of £226.10 (including VAT) and covers the registration and certification fees.

Please note: In the event of a place not being available or if the course does not run, the booking fee will be returned to you. 

The remainder of the course fees (£678.30 including  VAT and administration fees) should be paid by week 8 of the course; or if preferred in three equal instalments of £226.10 on weeks 8, 16 and 24 of the course.

You can ask us to set up a direct debit mandate when you book the course by saying 'yes' on the form and we will be pleased to send you a mandate form by email. Once this has been returned to us we can request payments from your bank on or about weeks 8, 16 and 24.

The course takes place at Ryton on Fridays for 28 weeks from 9.30am - 12.30pm.


What is the enrolment process?

Complete the online enrolment form by clicking on the green 'Enrol for this Course' button above.

Please note course places are limited; completing the form does not guarantee that a place is available on the course you have chosen, our administrator will contact you to confirm your place. Shortly before the course begins you will be sent joining instructions.

What else do I need to know?

Our candidates enjoy a high level of success in RHS examinations, with over 90% passing on the first attempt and approximately half of those passing with commendation (that means they achieve 70% or more in the exam).

What can I do after completing this course?

You can go on to study the second theory Certificate, the RHS Level 3 Certificate in Plant Growth, Health and Applied Propagation. Alternatively, you could undertake the RHS Level 3 Practical Certificate in Horticulture, which is assessed rather than examination- based qualification, and work towards the  current RHS Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture. 

An RHS Level 3 qualification is well respected in the horticultural industry and can help with career progression to a supervisory role for National Trust and many other employers.

After completing your studies at Level 3 you might want to consider the RHS’s own Master of Horticulture, a degree-level qualification which is suitable if you are already employed in horticulture with supervisory experience, or a horticultural degree at a British university.

We also offer you the opportunity to develop your interest in a garden design with our Practical Garden Design Course or DIY Garden Design online. Click on the tabs below for more information.