Posted by: sweetpea | September 25, 2007

RHS Advanced certificate

I don’t think I’ve mentioned previously that I’m studying again, this time for the RHS Advanced certificate in Horticulture.  I’m doing it by Distance Learning with learningcurve. So far they have been good in terms of sending out the coursework and my tutor has been good too.  The only negative thing I’d have to say is that they don’t seem to do a very good job of proof reading the course material because I keep finding mistakes, but on the whole it is good.

I was aiming to try and do one module a month, however I’m now thinking that I may have been a little too ambitious in terms of how much I can do in a given time.  I think a month and a half is more realistic, although possibly now I know that I haven’t been spending enough time this month I can adjust this and up the hours next month.

The exams are held twice a year so I am hoping to have finished the work for the first exam in time to sit it in February, that way I won’t have to do all the revision in one go.  There is also a practical exam this time which being as I’m doing the course by distance learning and therefore have no-one to demonstrate the techniques to me, i have to sort out ways of getting the practical experience too.  I’m doing some workshops ar Harlow Carr already, and there are some colleges that run one day workshops specifically for people studying through distance learning, so I shall do one of those next year. I’m also planning on doing some voluntering next year (I’m going to visit York Gate on Thursday which is one possibility), and going to contact local nurseries to see if I can get some experience there too.

I think the lottie will be taking a bit of a back seat next year, or at least I will have to try and be strict with myself in terms of how much time I spend down there!  I will also be doing everything the ‘correct’ way rather then the rather haphazard way I normally do things.  In fact I’ve already come to the conclusion that although I have good soil down on the plot in terms of it being easy to cultivate, I don’t think it is particularly good in terms of nutrients and organic matter, which I think is the reason I don’t seem to do so well with certain veg.  So the mission this winter is to try and pile in as much organic matter as I can into the beds and see if that improves things next year.



  1. A Chara
    One of my qualifications is the original certificate in general hort. I knew from some of my staff that it had changed but i didnt know/has it gone to all module or how does it work now?
    well done twice!
    Slán go foill

  2. Hi Peter

    I don’t know how it works if you do the course at a college, but certainly the way I am doing it it is broken down into 12 modules, but that might be simply to make it easier in terms of sending out the course material. I know there are 4 written paper exams and the practical. Having read my study pack again over the weekend, I think you have to have completed the entire course before sitting any of the exams, rather than what I had first thought.

    I actually did the General certificate a couple of years ago but felt that I wanted to go into it more in depth. Just need to sort out the practical experience to go with it now!

    I like your blog by the way 🙂

    SP x

  3. SP,

    we did it in a one off essay style exam – but that was 12/13 years ago for me and I sat them externally [no tutoring] so I’m not really sure how it goes.
    I only employ qualfied staff – but we have one employee that we’re putting through college at the moment. There are only two qualification standards that I would pursue one is the rhs and the other from teagasc [the irish state body]. I think sometimes though it is important to suit theperson to the course structure etc. The dubln school of horticulture do run a rhs course but its great to get an independent point of view. Thanks for the compliment on the blog! [and right back at you on that note].

    Slán go foill

  4. This is really interesting – had been thinking about doing something similar for years but never got around to it. Not sure that now is the time for me given I have a young baby, but would like to know more …

    Just looked at the learningcurve site and it looks good – maybe I could manage that few hours a week! Only thing is it says I’d need the Level 2 or similar – did you do this? Maybe I am being presumptuous but I think I’d manage without it …

    I’d also be interested to know the total cost including RHS fees …

  5. Hi Jane

    I did do the level 2 course first, as an evening class a couple of years ago. I’m not sure I can say whether or not you would need to do that first or not. The advanced course so far (I’ve only finished one module so far) seems to follow on from what the level 2 course did in more detail. I have a Biology background so I think I would probably have been ok without the level 2, and I guess so long as you are prepared to maybe do some extra work on the areas that you might find a little more difficult you’d be ok, especially if you have some practical experience already.
    I’m really enjoying it so far, but I am finding it tricky finding time to study when I’m actually feeling in the mood to concentrate, evenings after work don’t really suit me for studying unfortunately, I have a habit of falling asleep!
    As for the total cost, I’m not sure. By the time I’ve finished the course with learning curve I think I’ll have paid £450 or there abouts, but on top of that there will be the exam fees, I’m afraid I have no idea how much they are (for the level 2 they were around £55 I think). I’m also thinking of possibly attending a practical workshop if I can find a college up North that offers such a thing (I know Sparshalt college do) just to make sure I’m doing everything correctly for the practical exam.

    Hope this has helped, if you have any more questions do ask. Learning Curve have been ok so far and I chose them because they were cheaper than HCC (the other major distance learning company) slightly.

    SP x

  6. That’s really helpful, thanks. Will give learningcurve a call and get some more info before I make any decisions …

  7. hi.

    Just done the RHS advanced exam (soil and propagation) and was wondering if you did and if so how you found it.

    I found it excruciatingly hard and have lots of things crossed at the moment!


  8. Hi allotment junkies

    No I haven’t done it yet as I’m still ploughing through the course. It’s pretty slow going at the moment trying to find enough time to study but I’m making progress, just not as fast as I’d hoped when I started the course.
    Have you actually finished studying the whole course or are you taking exams as and when you finish modules? I have no idea how it works and assume you have to finish studying the whole course before you can take any exams.
    It’s a bit scary to hear that you found the exam hard…., I’m just covering the soils module at the moment, really enjoying it but there seems so much to learn.

    Good luck with the rest of your exams.


  9. Hey SP

    We are doing the course at a local centre. We are doing each exam after each module is taught, so it is possible to do it that way. So three more modules (and possibly a retake lol) to go. This term we are doing the practical module – feeling fine about the practical element but gonna have to do some serious studying for the dreaded plant ident!

    There certainly is a huge syllabus to cover for each module and the exam paper we sat asked quite specific long answer questions!! Everybody on our course voiced similar dismay at the exam. But we will all just have to wait and see – the results arent out until late april.

    We have learnt so much, and although I have enjoyed learning about the intricacies of the soil universe and it is all so very useful, there also seems to an element of no pain no gain with the course!!

    I’ll shut up now as I don’t want to scare you further. Happy studying and feel free to ask us anything else etc…

  10. Plant ident is my main problem, no matter what I try I can never remember them.

  11. Sally, I know exactly what you mean. I can usually remember the genus, but have real difficulty with the species and genus together especially when they are complicated names. But gradually I am getting there. I don’t think there is an easy way of remembering them, although I find it slightly easier for plants I’ve seen in the flesh.
    One thing I do is when I’m walking past peoples gardens I try and identify as many plants as I can (usually not that many!) I think it helps with remembering them longterm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: