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FdSc Horticulture and Applied Plant Science On line

About the course

The course is delivered online by University Centre Myerscough and awarded by the University of Central Lancashire and covers key aspects of modern horticulture. The course is suitable for anyone currently working in the horticulture industry who wants to expand their knowledge or progress towards management or technical positions.

The development of work related practical skills and experiences is an integral part of the Foundation Degree course at all levels with a dedicated module covering work skills and an opportunity to carry out a student-led horticultural project. Throughout the course you will develop academic skills in written and verbal communication as well as critical thinking.

The course has three key strands – plant production, plant use and plant science.

In Year one, modules provide you with a broad foundation knowledge, where you can build skills in plant identification and interpretation, appreciate the essentials of plant and soil science, undertake plant production and explore plant use within the amenity environment.

Second and third year modules develop the themes from year one and provide the opportunity to specialise in areas you find particularly interesting by taking responsibility for your own project. Everyone studies pests, disease and weeds, management of greenspaces and the interaction between plants and the environment. You can choose two of the following three option modules research methods, agronomy/crop production or business and entrepreneurship depending on whether you wish to top up to BSc.

Course modules

Year 1

Academic and Vocational Skills

Working in industry will require horticulturalists to develop a range of practical and professional skills. This module provides you with first-hand work related experience of a range of practical and technical skills as well as developing your ability to present information in a suitable academic and professional style. You will be encouraged to evaluate and reflect on your own personal development throughout the module. The module will provide the foundation for further development of individual skills through independent study in the ‘Industry Project’ module.

Plant Knowledge

Developing fundamental plant knowledge and learning to “read” plants are the key elements of this module. You will study plant taxonomy/nomenclature, plant identification and recognition of horticulturally significant characteristics.

Essential Plant and Soil Science

Plants and soils have a very close relationship. This module will look at the biochemistry and physiology of plants and how these are affected by the plant’s environment. You will consider the characteristics of the soil environment and how these impact on plant growth and land use. The mechanisms by which plants can express the genetic information coded in their DNA and pass this on to the next generation will also be explained.

Plant Utilisation

Plants and greenspaces are increasingly important in terms of the ecosystem services they provide and other benefits for society. This module introduces you to the selection of plants for suitable for specific situations, the effective use of plant characteristics for horticultural impact and appropriate management and cultivation techniques.

Year 2

Plant Production (Double Module)

You will be responsible for a producing and selling a horticultural crop within the context of a small horticultural enterprise. Associated theory and skills covered by the module include plant propagation, plant production and environmental management. Business aspects studied will include marketing and costings. You will also be guided through a small scale scientific trial.

Pests, Diseases and Weeds

Basic diagnostic skills, pathology knowledge and an understanding of disease management are expected of professional practitioners in the areas of arboriculture, horticulture and turf grass. The module will introduce the range of organisms that can damage plants and then explore the characteristics of each category of organism in some detail. Current theories in pathology and pest management will be explored and a range of case studies, where pathological theory can be related to specific pest and disease situations will be investigated.

Landscape Management

This module allows you to apply your knowledge of plant utilisation by the development of a selection of planting schemes, management plans and maintenance schedules for a range of landscape situations and includes specifications and contract documentation.

Year 3

Industry Project

You will use the skills developed in earlier modules to identify a suitable industry related project. Through planning, executing and then reporting on the project outcomes, you will be encouraged to use the industry project to develop your own personal skills as well as professional working relationships with industry contacts. Theories and skills of project management will be developed through supporting lectures.

Environmental Plant Physiology

This module builds upon the knowledge of plants gained in previous plant science modules. It aims to extend your understanding of how plants interact with their environment and relate this to the management practices employed in industry. It will also consider how plant physiology is influenced by changes in environmental conditions, such as those associated with climate change, and how changes in a plant’s environment lead to changes and adaptations to plant processes that allow them to survive in a range of different environments.

Crop Physiology and Production (option module)

Plant physiology and cultural practices will be studied with an emphasis on sustainable management techniques to improve plant performance. You will be given the opportunity to apply your knowledge of agronomy to your own specialist area. For example, horticulture and agriculture students will be focused on improving crop yield and quality whereas surface performance is more important to turf students. You will be encouraged to learn through experimentation in addition to theory.

Research Methods (option module)

The research methods module will enable you to develop a scientific approach to problem solving, which can act as a firm foundation for appraising research throughout your careers. You will gain an understanding of appropriate and inappropriate experimental design and this will enable a critical evaluation of investigational methodology and so enable you to both conduct, and evaluate the quality of investigations in your area of study.

Entry requirements & additional information

Entry requirements

5 GCSE passes at Grade C (4) or above (including Maths and English or equivalent)

Plus 48 UCAS Tariff points from one or more of the following:

2 A Levels (A2), at least one at C or above

  • BTEC/C&G Level 3
  • 2 Scottish Highers at C or above
  • 3 Irish Highers at C or above
  • International Baccalaureate at 24 points
  • NVQ Level 3 in a relevant discipline
  • Access to HE Diploma in a relevant discipline

Applicants who believe they may be eligible for Accreditation of Prior Certificated and/or Experiential Learning (APCL/APEL) for certain modules will be considered on an individual basis.

AS Levels, BTEC Subsidiary Diploma and Scottish Intermediate 2s may be used to contribute to entry requirements but they are not sufficient for entry on their own. Alternative equivalent qualifications will also be considered positively.

Applicants for whom English is a second language must be able to demonstrate proof of International English Language Testing System (IELTS) at Level 6.0 (with no component score lower than 5.5) or equivalent.

Learning and assessment

Learning Environment:

Learning activities on the course are diverse. You will have notes, audio-visual presentations, videos and interactive activities via an online learning environment.

Students are expected to undertake extensive independent study and research to support lectures, seminars and assessments. Group work and group presentations form an important part of the course. Students will have access to specialist IT hardware and software, an on-line learning environment and reference facility.


Students will face a variety of assessments such as technical reports, literature reviews, written examinations, presentations, laboratory/practical reports, practical tests (e.g. plant identification), work-based reports, case studies and personal development planner portfolio.

Additional Information:

Many modules will include guest speakers of standing within the industry. Off-site day visits to facilities such as gardens, growers and trade fairs.


On successful completion of the course, students may apply for the BSc (Hons) by undertaking one further year of study.


Students have gained employment in a wide range of situations such as garden centres, commercial nurseries, technical consultants, horticultural research, landscape companies, plant breeding, local authority parks management, and botanical and private gardens.

Professional accreditations

Representatives of the local industry have been actively involved in a technical advisory capacity. The College works with The Institute of Horticulture (IOH), International Plant Propagators Society (IPPS), British Pot Plant and Ornamental Association (BPOA)

Special requirements

Extra Costs:

Additional costs for opportunities and items that are optional for the course include:

  • Waterproofs and Safety Boots - £80