HND Garden Design

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

The HND in Garden Design (SCQF level 8) builds on the knowledge and skills of the HNC and also covers landscape design history and landscape management and maintenance.

This HND Garden Design will give learners a detailed knowledge of plants and their uses together with the practical skills required for the care and maintenance of plants. Learners will also develop an appreciation of design at a garden scale and gain landscaping skills and knowledge.

After successfully completing this qualification, learners will be able to take significant responsibility for the supervision of others and to manage work and resources. They will be able to work independently, or with peers, and will develop their abilities to solve problems, and to undertake analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

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 in Garden Design 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. Examples of formal entry qualifications include:

  • HNC Garden Design
  • appropriate groupings of National Units
  • vocational qualifications, eg an SVQ/NVQ 3 in a relevant subject such as Amenity Horticulture 
  • 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

HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. The HND in Garden Design 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.

Successful completion of the HND will provide the knowledge and understanding and practical skills required to work as a garden designer.

Graduates from the Horticulture programme may be eligible for Membership of the Institute of Horticulture. Associate Membership of the Institute of Horticulture is granted to those who have gained a Diploma in Horticulture. Corporate Membership of the Institute of Horticulture is granted to those who have worked or studied as a horticulturalist for at least seven years.

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 in Garden Design

Group Award code: GJ9N 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND in Garden Design at SCQF level 8 consists of 12 mandatory Units (112 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (128 SCQF points).

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

Group Award Specification (0.97 MB)