Horticulture HNC

UCAS code 154D

What is special about this course?

The HNC Horticulture is designed to provide students with a broad knowledge of horticulture and landscape, and to develop an understanding of the characteristics, growth and use of plants.

The programme is delivered by very experienced horticulture tutors: the teaching team includes specialists in conservation and the environment, as well as an award-winning garden designer.

Throughout the course you will be introduced to areas of specialism and will develop a growing appreciation and understanding of the evolving nature of horticultural science and practices. This generic and practical knowledge, together with the introduction of communication, supervisory and management skills and abilities, will prepare you for employment at craft level in this diverse industry.


Special features

  • Taught by experienced horticulture specialists
  • Opportunity to gain essential supervisory and management skills as well as practical experience
  • Study full-time or part-time to fit in with your personal and work commitments


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

  • 1 Scottish Higher at grade C or above, or
  • 1 A level at grade D or above
  • Alternatively, NC Horticulture, City and Guilds Horticulture at level 6, or another equivalent SCQF level 6 course


Year 1 - HNC

Mandatory units are:

  • Horticulture: graded unit 1
  • Horticulture: plant recognition and use
  • Horticultural practices
  • Plant growth and development
  • Plant protection
  • Soil management

Optional subjects may include:

  • Financial records for small business
  • Horticultural mechanisation principles
  • Planting design
  • Plant physiology
  • Plants for gardens: specialised plantings
  • Retailing of plants

How will I study my course?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Our priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students and staff. We continue to review government guidance and will inform you of any further changes to the information provided below about your course. You will study the course through our blended learning approach. In semester one, September 2020, the theory elements will mainly be delivered online through a combination of video conference seminars, tutor-supported study and self-directed study using the university's virtual learning environment. You will also have the opportunity to do an online induction at the start of the course. On-campus activities and practical sessions will be introduced in line with the developing Scottish Government public health measures and guidance, including social distancing, with practical elements most likely in semester two (from January 2021).
  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • You will learn through a combination of face-to-face and/or video conference lectures and practical work. For those enrolled at Argyll College UHI, you will complete the practical work in a block placement in a residential block placement at the prestigious Mount Stuart Estate, Isle of Bute and at a specialist wholesale propgation nursery in Argyll
  • For those enrolled at Moray College UHI, practical work will be done at the Biblical Garden in Elgin

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Part-time (structured): 2 years


Where can I study my course?

  • Argyll College UHI
  • Moray College UHI

Students enrolled at Argyll College UHI will also have the option to study from home or you can choose to be located at Dundee and Angus College or the Borders College. Please indicate your preference on your application form. 

Start date

  • September


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £1,285 £1,285
Part-time (per HN credit) £86 £86

Note: The Scottish Government set this fee which has not yet been confirmed for 2021-22 so may be subject to change.

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and with a term time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £6,720 £6,915
Part-time (per HN credit) £448 £461

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living while studying.

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK, including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled or pre-settled status in the UK, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £7,020 £7,230
Part-time (per HN credit) £468 £482

Part-time study is not open to international student requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK.


External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact the relevant university partner college for more information.

The Chartered Institute of Horticulture also provides information on many available horticulture scholarships and grants: https://www.horticulture.org.uk/.

What can I do on completion of my course?

Once you have successfully completed the HNC Horticulture, you might like to consider careers in:

  • Retail horticulture: garden centre or large home/leisure store
  • Landscaping
  • Private estates/ homes work e.g. National Trust
  • Self-employment

Can I progress into further study?

On successful completion of the HNC you may progress to the HND Horticulture.

Is there more information available online?

QR Code - scan to visit course page

You can use the above QR code to connect directly to the course details.

What our students, graduates and staff say

I’ve achieved better grades than I imagined I was capable of, which I believe is largely down to the tutors I’ve been lucky enough to have. They have been amazing – so supportive and encouraging. I know I’m a bit older than most students, but it’s never too late to study something you love. I’m so grateful to Argyll College for enabling me to do that, and I recommend that anyone who’s interested in studying – whatever age they are – visit their local college centre and find out what’s on offer. It’s been unbelievable. I’ve loved every minute of it and wish I’d done something like this 20 years ago.

Wendy Chance, studied HNC Horticulture at Argyll College UHI.

Apply for Horticulture HNC

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2021

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.