Diploma of Higher Education in Garden Design - Writtle University College
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Diploma of Higher Education in Garden Design

UCAS Code: K340

Garden design is a specialist focus within the landscape professions that is based on a sound creative, technical and scientific understanding of the landscape and its associated disciplines. This programme aims to provide an interdisciplinary course integrating the creativity of art and design with advanced plant knowledge, garden theories and technologies. Characterised by a strong creative attitude to garden making through the arts and environment, garden design is both a well-established professional activity and an academic subject.

You will develop an understanding of research and scholarship in areas that draw on the arts and humanities, planting design and horticulture, construction, design and management. Research and scholarship inform teaching and learning, seeking to understand how the connections between gardens and the wider landscape over time, and the factors that continue to shape them. More than just creating beautiful places to be, sustainable and inclusive garden design considers the complex interactions between humans and natural processes and aims to contribute to developing resilient landscapes addressing some of the key challenges of our times.

At Writtle University College we have developed a studio culture that mirrors a professional practice. As such, the Diploma of Higher Education Garden Design students experience the benefits from working in a close knit community lecturing staff, visiting professionals and landscape students in a supportive work-focused environment. Writtle University College's land-based heritage constitutes an important part of the programme, providing opportunities for plant knowledge and ecological application as well as creating healthier places for people to engage with in their everyday lives.

You will benefit from learning from and working in our campus grounds as a foundation to understand the ongoing requirements of your designs. You will experience gardens from a multi-disciplinary viewpoint as spatial planner, horticulturist, artist, contractor and garden maker.

UCAS Tariff Points
GCE A Levels
80 UCAS tariff points, to include one GCE A level grade C or above
Irish Certificate
80 UCAS tariff points, to include 2 x B1 or H2 higher
Scottish Highers
80 UCAS tariff points, to include 2 x B
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma
BTEC Level 3 Diploma
C & G Level 3 Extended Diploma
Pass (48 + in combination with other qualifications to meet 80)
C & G Level 3 Diploma
Distinction (72 + in combination with other qualifications to meet 80)

Please note:

An equivalent or higher combination of grades to that indicated above will also be accepted.


All applicants must hold a minimum of four GCSE passes at grade C/4 or above to include English, Maths and Science.

Access course

Writtle University College welcomes applicants studying Access to HE Diploma courses. For more information please contact Admissions.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL/APEL)

Information about our Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL/APEL) policy can be found on our Higher Education Regulations and Policies page.

Learning is typically project-based, lectures, tutorials, seminars, peer-learning and collaborations, site visits and study tours, as well as substantial one-to-one help and advice to help you to develop your creativity and practical skills to a professional level.

Studio based learning is an immersive experience. Drawing, making and experimentation support more traditional teaching practices. Hands on experience, working with plants in our campus grounds makes design teaching at Writtle University College an unique experience from other design schools. How we engage with the land helps us to think about landscapes, and there is a fluid interaction between studio teaching, our wider campus and beyond.

As you progress through the course you are supported toward Independent learning:

  • Lectures
  • Guest speakers and professional juries
  • Studio seminars
  • Workshops
  • Field work
  • Personal development planning
  • Student conferences
  • Site visits
  • Study tours

The course develops your thinking beyond the typical domestic garden to consider larger scale and more complex public gardens enabling you to appreciate the wider issues for gardens in public spaces with multiple users that have the opportunity to contribute to contemporary needs for society and the environment.

Our range of assessments are designed to allow all students the opportunity to discover where they excel. Across the two years of full-time study you will develop your own areas of interest in garden design. Our assessment strategy supports this by building knowledge that surrounds you and your individual approach to design. This is done in the knowledge that our industry is multi-faceted and cross disciplinary and that the ability to work in a team is essential. We offer the opportunity to meet and work with other professionals supporting you to work with others collaboratively across disciplines and professional networks.

Assessment methods offer varied approaches that support you and prepare you for the world of employment. Each year assessments are designed to build your confidence and aptitude and include:

  • Design projects
  • Visual presentations
  • Verbal presentations
  • Case studies / precedent studies
  • Essay writing
  • Technical and illustrated reports
  • Practical projects
  • Seminars

Skills developed through the assessment develop your learning and are designed to build knowledge, workplace skills and employability.

Writtle University College has developed a studio culture that mirrors a professional practice. As such, Diploma of Higher Education Garden Design students experience the benefits from working in a close knit community of lecturing staff, visiting professionals and landscape students in a supportive work-focused environment. The Diploma of Higher Education Garden Design encourages the development of garden design skills through making and drawing and engaging with our plant collection. This will enable you to develop the skills to work with other design professionals and develop new landscape sensibilities and sensitivities .

The studio environment mirrors a professional practice and you will have a dedicated desk space, drawing board, model-making facilities, photographic equipment, storage space and access to computers with a range design software packages.

The studio culture provides the time and the space to work creatively and share ideas. Set within the heart of the main University College campus and ornamental gardens our studios have immediate access to the gardens that will inform your work.
Our Landscape Talk series host prominent landscape architects and garden designers as well as experts including horticulturists, artists, landscape managers, planners as well as garden and architectural historians .

These talks are open to all our students, staff and alumni. Students have had the unique opportunity to hear talks from experts including Martha Schwarz Partners, Tom Stuart-Smith Landscape Design, Arup, BDP, Townshend Landscape Architects, Gillespies, The Landscape Partnership, The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Gill Wynee-Williams Associates, Peter Piet and many more.
You will be advised on opportunities for employment or to explore the potential of progressing onto the final year of the BSc Honours Landscape and Garden Design and later to the associated Masters Garden Design .

The Higher Diploma of Garden Design aims to ensure that students are work-ready for smaller scale garden design or landscaping companies having gained the technical understanding and design skills required by these practices. Enterprising students are prepared to set up their own businesses.

With the range of skills learned at Writtle University College our graduates take their creative skills into a wide range of careers that aim to improve landscapes and gardens and tackle the issues and concerns such as climate change, population growth, improving health and wellbeing, improving ecological and sustainable approaches to design and food security.
The Diploma of Higher Education Garden Design is equivalent to the first and second year of the BSc Honours Landscape and Garden Design accredited by the Landscape Institute (LI) and the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) .

We are a member of European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS) and we are supported by the Society of Garden Designers (SGD) for which we hold Educator Status.

For more information, visit the websites for Landscape Institute, the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) and Society of Garden Designers.

Find out what our Landscape Architecture and Garden Design students have been up to.