Level 3 in Horticulture

This is a comprehensive City & Guilds Extended Diploma course, taught full time over two academic years. It offers students the opportunity to develop the knowledge and practical skills required for a wide range of careers in plant science and technology, garden design and landscape construction, edible and ornamental plant production, heritage gardening and conservation, greenkeeping and groundsmanship, horticultural therapy and garden retailing.

There are no tuition fees and a means tested maintenance grant is available to students studying this programme to help with living expenses. Further details can be found in the Financial Support section.

On campus accommodation and free car parking are available and for students travelling to Greenmount Campus by public transport, the campus provides a free daily minibus service for the two mile journey to and from Antrim bus and rail centre.

Student success at National and International level

Greenmount Campus has a well qualified and experienced horticulture teaching team and CAFRE graduates have established an amazing track record for competition success at national and international level. Making the most of opportunities has helped our students develop their CVs and reputation within the industry. In recent years Diploma students and graduates have built medal winning show gardens at Garden Show Ireland, Bloom Garden Show, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Tatton Park Flower Show and Chelsea Flower Show.

Students have also been finalists in the all Ireland Chartered Institute of Horticulture Young Horticulturalist of the Year Competition and have received awards for their design work. Graduates with a particular interest in ornamental plant production have also won David Colegrave Foundation Scholarships to assist with their business start-ups.

In recent years, five students and graduates have secured places on the Worldskills UK Landscape Gardening Squad, with three of them representing the UK in the biennial Worldskills Final; James Cuffey, Silver Medalist in London 2011, Matthew Bradley, finalist in Leipzig in 2013 and Jonathan Gill, Silver Medalist in Sao Paulo in 2015. CAFRE graduate, Adam Ferguson is currently on the two man Team UK to compete in Abu Dhabi in 2017.

Course content

The main areas of study are:

    • Business management
    • Construction of hard landscape features
    • Garden design
    • Horticultural machinery operations
    • Horticultural science
    • Identification of trees and shrubs
    • Landscape maintenance
    • Ornamental plant production
    • Turf management

Additional information

In addition to the Extended Diploma qualification, students complete a short course in Health and Safety, PA1 and PA6 training and assessment, and have opportunities to make great industry contacts through industry visits, study tours, competitions and college events.

The course also includes an industry placement over the summer months between the first and second year of the course. Students are provided with career planning guidance in preparation for industry experience in a sector of their choice.

Typical placements include; working for council parks departments, golf clubs, nurseries, garden centres, private and public gardens/estates and landscape contractors. Placements may be undertaken in the UK and Ireland or further afield.

Progression opportunities and career destinations

Most students go directly into employment in the industry on completion of the Extended Diploma but the course also provides students with an opportunity to progress to Foundation Degree and Degree in Horticulture programmes. Students can follow careers with garden centres, nurseries, golf courses, landscape companies and local councils in a wide range of jobs and, with experience, secure supervisory and management positions. Other options include horticulture therapy, education and training or self employment.

Entry Requirements

Normally four GCSE passes at Grade C or above including English and Mathematics.


Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture at Merit level or above and Grade C in English and Mathematics or equivalent.

Applicants who are still at school are encouraged to undertake school work experience with a horticultural business. CAFRE may be able to help you find a suitable placement in a horticultural sector of your choice.