South Devon College

Inspiring our community through learning for all

Contact us on: 08000 380123

Horticulture and Land Based

If you want to work in the great outdoors, we have courses that will develop the skills you need to succeed in this rewarding career.

At South Devon College we take great pride in our facilities and excellent bank of resources that support students on our Horticulture and Land Based courses. Our Vantage Point Campus in Paignton has gardens for horticultural study, as well as a conservation area, classrooms and support services. We deliver horticulture study in partnership with Occombe Farm and much of the practical work will take place in their large scale gardens and facilities. It is a great opportunity to work in a real-life industry setting.

All of our courses are assessed through a combination of practical and written assignments. You will have the opportunity to participate in a range of trips during your course, which will enhance your experiences and give you a more in-depth understanding of the range of careers available in the land based sector. Past trips have included visits to the Eden Project and National Trust Gardens.

There are apprenticeship opportunities in this area so you could earn whilst you learn. We also offer a number of related degrees, which means that you can progress to university-level study with the College. You will finish your studies will all the skills necessary to gain employment. Past students have entered industry as plant propagators, conservationists, estate gardeners and rangers. You will have plenty of opportunities to embark on an exciting career in the industry.

Why South Devon College?

South Devon College is an outstanding place to learn, and the perfect place for your education and development. In 2014, we were delighted to be recognised as the top Further Education and Tertiary College in England, in results published by the Skills Funding Agency for 2012-13. We were also graded as 'Outstanding' in our most recent Ofsted inspection.

We are proud to promote a culture of success within the College, with fantastic results across the entirety of our provision. With an exceptional learning environment and our inspirational teaching team, we know that together, you will enjoy the same success in your studies and achieve your goals, whatever they may be.

Personalised Learning Programmes

Every student at South Devon College has a Personalised Learning Programme; a custom plan tailored to you as an individual that ensures you gain the academic, vocational and employability skills necessary to achieve your goals and find employment upon the completion of your studies.

Jamie Williams: Horticulture and Land Based student

Having seen the facilities and met with the curriculum team, I was really excited to start a Horticulture course. I've learnt so much in my time here; my peers and I have created and maintained our own garden, gaining valuable skills. We use specialist equipment and develop a varied understanding of plants and vegetables. I can't wait to progress through the levels and take my skills into employment.

Lorraine Shears: Horticulture and Land Based lecturer

I've taught at the College for 14 years, and it's a great pleasure to pass on my experience to new learners. I have worked as a garden designer, allotment officer and market gardener, and now specialise in teaching subjects that include garden design, soft landscape, propagation and production horticulture. It is a privilege to see learners grow and get excited about nurturing new life, before they enter the world of work in an area that they are passionate about. I never tire of seeing learners develop into skilled practitioners ready for employment.

We have 3 fulltime courses in Horticulture and Land Based:

Horticulture - Level 1 Diploma

The Horticulture Level 1 Diploma is perfect for you if you want to gain experience in the land-based sector. You will develop a range of skills that can nurture a natural interest in gardening and prepare you for a career in this rewarding industry. You will learn through practical activity and taught lessons. Upon completion, you can progress to the Level 2 Diploma to further refine your skills and knowledge. Alternatively, you could consider an apprenticeship in the horticulture industry, using the skills you have developed.

What will I learn?

  • Propagation
  • Growing and caring for plants
  • Identifying plants
Horticulture Level 1 Diploma

Entry Requirements

  • You will be required to be working towards achieving Maths at Level 1
  • You will be required to be working towards achieving English at Level 1
  • You will need to have achieved a minimum of 3 GCSEs at grade D or above
  • You should have a genuine interest in this subject

Locations available

  • Paignton Campus

Horticulture - Level 2 Diploma

The Horticulture Level 2 Diploma develops your existing skills, giving you a broad range of knowledge relating to the growth of plants and how they can benefit us. You will also gain an understanding of plant science, enabling you to relate the biology of plants to horticultural techniques. Upon completion, you will be able to consider employment in a variety of roles across the industry, or alternatively, you could progress to further study.

What will I learn?

  • Organic and sustainable growth
  • Production techniques
  • Maintaining indoor and outdoor plants
Horticulture Level 2 Diploma

Entry Requirements

  • You will be required to have achieved Maths at Level 1
  • You will be required to have achieved English at Level 1
  • You will need to have achieved a minimum of 3 GCSEs at grade C or above

Locations available

  • Paignton Campus

Horticulture - Level 3 Advanced Technical Certificate

The Horticulture Level 3 course is ideal if you want to develop your horticulture skills to become a more senior professional or manager working in gardening or groundskeeping. You will be taught by experienced, knowledgeable staff which will ensure that you gain an in-depth insight into the techniques and science of horticulture. You will cover propagation, creating plant displays and carrying out your own project at Occombe Farm Market Garden. You will also gain plenty of practical experience in a variety of skills, from maintaining different types of turf to pruning shrubs and trees, and will undertake a work placement to develop practical experience.

What will I learn?

  • Planting and propagation
  • Creating plant displays
  • Maintaining fruit and vegetable plots
  • Pruning
  • Organic management
Horticulture Level 3 Advanced Technical Certificate

Entry Requirements

  • You will be required to have achieved Maths at Level 1
  • You will be required to have achieved English at Level 1
  • You will need to have achieved a minimum of 4 GCSEs including English or equivalent
  • You should have a genuine interest in this subject

Locations available

  • Paignton Campus

Apprenticeships with South Devon College


Horticulture is a broad and varied industry that can be split into four main areas:
1) Landscaping comprising of many different types of business and employment, including both the public and private sectors. Businesses range from small contracting firms to large integrated, multi-national companies and local authorities.

2) Production horticulture is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) many of which are family run. This typically includes businesses producing fruit, vegetables, protected crops, plants, flowers, bulbs, nursery stock and trees.

3) Sports turf and golf greenkeeping which includes managing and maintaining sports turf/grounds that are to be used for sport but need to meet specific requirements. Typically they are small industries and may even be part of a larger organisation.

4)Parks, gardens and green space comprises of local authority parks and greenspace, private gardens, heritage and botanic gardens.

My future with South Devon College

Careers: I want to be...

Our courses at South Devon College have been designed to provide you with the skills and knowledge employers seek, enabling you to find employment and take the first steps towards a successful career. Our Horticulture and Land Based courses will help you gain employment in the following industries:

Work Outdoors

Would you rather work in the great outdoors, with the sun on your back, then between the four walls of an office? Then we have the course for you! If the idea of working on the sea, out on the land or even up in the air sounds appealing to you, then our courses can lead to careers as:

Conservation Officer
Landscape Gardener
Outdoor Guide