HND Horticulture with Plantsmanship

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers.

The HND in Horticulture with Plantsmanship (SCQF level 8) builds on the knowledge and skills of the HNC in Horticulture, which covers plant growth and development, plant protection and identification, and soil management. In addition, the HND covers plant classification and systematics, plant and habitat ecology and conservation — as well as designing and managing plant collections, landscape design history and soils and plant nutrition.

The HND Horticulture with Plantsmanship will provide learners with specialist knowledge and understanding, competences, skills and abilities to make them employable at management level in the horticulture and landscape industries.

This qualification is available through colleges, training providers and some universities. Typically an HND takes two years to complete.

This subject will not have alternative assessment guidance for session 2023-24. You should refer to the Group Award/Unit specifications for detailed delivery and assessment information. For general support on delivery and assessment see the HNVQ assessment guidance 2023-24.

Higher National qualifications have been developed by SQA in partnership with colleges, universities and industry ¿ so employers recognise that they provide sound evidence of ability.

The Unit-based structure supports flexibility. A Unit is typically 40 hours of timetabled learning.

There is a wide choice of optional Units which will enable centres to offer courses tailored to meet local needs.

This HN provides progression routes to further study (see Progression). 

The HND Horticulture with Plantsmanship is suitable for a wide range of candidates including:

  • school leavers
  • adult returners to education
  • individuals in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects
  • people who wish to start their own business


As with all SQA qualifications, entry is at the discretion of the centre. No prior knowledge of Horticulture, Landscape Management or Garden Design will be necessary for entry, but relevant prior experience or qualifications would be of benefit. Examples of formal entry qualifications include:

  • appropriate groupings of National Units
  • an SVQ at Level 3 in a relevant area
  • relevant work experience

Different combinations of relevant National Qualifications, vocational qualifications and equivalent qualifications from other awarding bodies may also be acceptable.

Progression and employment

Learners who achieve an HNC Horticulture can progress to the HND in Horticulture with Plantsmanship.

HNCs and HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HND in Horticulture with Plantsmanship allows direct entry to some third year programmes.

Higher National qualifications also provide the knowledge and understanding required for related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). For example, SVQ Level 3 in Horticulture. 

What you'll learn?

The HND Horticulture with Plantsmanship will provide you with knowledge and understanding, competencies, skills and abilities in horticulture and landscape to make you employable at the management level of the industries or able to pursue an independent career. You will also gain more specialised experience and skills in plantsmanship.

You will have the opportunity to develop your knowledge of taxonomy, ecology, distribution, conservation, cultivation and management of plants. You will be able to apply plantsmanship skills to cultural, economic, management and scientific contexts, and will develop your knowledge and understanding of the use of plants. You will explore the scientific principles of plant growth and development, and areas of specialisms and research processes.

You will be able to apply the main general practices and techniques of horticulture and landscape, drawing on advanced and specialised knowledge, and use some specialised professional skills and practices. You will act with significant autonomy in some activities, taking responsibility for the supervision of others or the management of work and resources, and will have to evaluate key aspects of your own performance.

You will develop your skills in problem solving, analysis, synthesis and evaluation, and to develop solutions, some of which will be innovative, to a variety of unpredictable problems.

Centres with devolved authority for approval should use their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority will have to come forward for approval and should contact SQA's Business Development Team for guidance.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA's general requirements for technical/occupational competence as outlined in the Guide to Approval.


Each individual Unit specification gives detailed information on the Evidence Requirements and approaches to assessment for each Unit.

Ongoing course assessment will apply.

Assessment support packs are available for this qualification from SQA's secure website.

HND Horticulture with Plantsmanship

Group Award code: GJ9T 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND Horticulture with Plantsmanship at SCQF level 8 consists of 18 mandatory Units (144 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (96 SCQF points).

For further information on the Units and Structure of this qualification please refer to the Group Award Specification Document.

Group Award Specification (0.97 MB)