• Home
  • Courses
  • RBGE Diploma in Garden History

RBGE Diploma in Garden History

This course started in March 2019. Please register your interest for any new intakes by completing the enquiry form below to be added to the Applicant's Handbook waiting list. This way you will be sent full details on the next course as soon as they are released.

A pond within sweeping lawns with a building with columns at the frontin the background

Moon Ponds, Studley Royal

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) Diploma in Garden History is the ideal specialist course in the history of British gardens. It offers a wonderful blend of online learning in your own time, coupled with study days here at RBGE. We cover the development and influence of heritage gardens, their design and conservation, and the plants and techniques that made them.

Based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which was founded in 1670, the Diploma in Garden History course provides an ideal opportunity to gain a solid foundation in this subject. After tracing the progress and changes of gardening styles in Britain, the student will explore in more detail such important aspects as the fundamental influence of Italian gardens In Britain and also the progress and development of garden features such as lawns, knot gardens and parterres.

The investigation of the introduction and cultivation of exotic flowers and fruit, including pineapples and orchids, as well as historic pruning and training techniques, provides an unusually broad spectrum to the diploma; it also affords valuable experience for those wishing to work in heritage gardening. A unit on Victorian horticulture provides scope for the study of the incredibly diverse and rapidly changing horticultural tastes of the nineteenth century whilst the Conservation of Historic gardens and Designed Landscapes unit applies knowledge from across the course to address the challenges of the evaluation and conservation of our historic garden heritage.

We are delighted that the diploma is formally supported by the highly respected Gardens Trust and all students receive membership of the society for the duration of the course. The study days at RBGE will highlight the wonderful historic treasures in our garden and living collections and also in our superb library and archives.

What is the format of the course?

This course is a blend of online learning and study days/weekends.The course consists of five units which are divided over four terms within the two-year duration of the course. Each unit consists of ten sessions and these sessions are made available to participants weekly throughout the terms. Alongside activities within each unit to support learning, a graded online quiz is provided at the end of each unit. Four assignments are set across the two years and these form the main assessments for the Diploma. We also provide suggested reading lists. The study days/weekends provide an opportunity to meet course colleagues and tutors as well as take part in some focused learning. Excursions on the study days will enable students to visit a range of fascinating Scottish gardens.

How much time would I need to dedicate to this course?

An average of four to five hours study each week is recommended to complete the course.

What resources do I need?

You will need a computer with reliable online access with a connection capable of streaming videos and downloading documents.  Most resources will be compatible with a tablet.  An up-to-date browser is the main piece of software you will need along with a PDF viewer e.g. Adobe Reader for viewing notes.  We recommend Google Chrome and Firefox as the browsers most compatible with PropaGate

To brush up on any computer skills please use the Digital Skills Check which can be found at onlinecourses.rbge.ac.uk. This will help you to make the most of your online course.

This course will involve navigating around web-pages, viewing resources, viewing videos, participating in online forums and uploading photographs and assignments.  Help is always at hand from our PropaGate Learning Team!

Do I need any prior knowledge?

No previous knowledge about garden history is required.  The course is set at first year degree level and is very accessible for interested students.

Those with botanical and/or horticultural backgrounds will be more familiar with some concepts whilst students with previous historical knowledge will be able to appreciate the changes in garden design and gardening in a wider context.

For those with little experience and who wish to increase or progress their horticultural or botanical knowledge either prior to application or during the Diploma, one of the following courses run by the RBGE is recommended:

  • RHS (Level 2) Horticulture (attended or online)
  • The RBGE Certificate in Practical Horticulture (attended with online resources)
  • Getting started with…Botany (attended or online)

More information go to the Courses tab above or www.rbge.org.uk/education

What support is available?

Online technical and tutor support will be available via the discussion forums in the course and of course at the study days

What is the course fee?

The RBGE Diploma in Garden History costs £2500

How do I apply?

Applications are not currently open, but please register your interest for any future intakes using the form at the bottom of this page.


"As a professional gardener looking to increase my understanding of garden history and associated management this course is proving to be a real asset. Combining classroom based teaching with field visits and self-guided study it has inspired me to delve deeper into previously unknown areas of garden history, improving my general knowledge of the subject and enabling me to look at historic gardens with new eyes."
    - Kate, Diploma Student

Allow Cookies

Find out more - Garden History

The Blended Learning Garden History Diploma started in March 2019. If you would like to register your interest for future intakes, please do so using the form below:

RBGE will process your personal data to inform you of any updates to the course, the admissions procedure, or course dates, as well as any special offers. For more information see our privacy notice.

Please let us know your name.

Please let us know your email address.

Please let us know your message.

Please let us know how you found us - it's really helpful. Thank you!

Invalid Input


Please re-enter the letters you see to prove that you are human
Refresh Invalid Input