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 architecture profession 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. It tends to occupy the smaller scale spectrum of landscape architecture projects and its practitioners are characterised by a strong creative attitude to garden making through the arts. Garden design is both a well-established professional activity and an academic subject.

As an academic subject students develop an understanding of research and scholarship in areas that draw on the arts and humanities, planting design, horticulture and landscape management. Research and scholarship inform teaching and learning, seeking to understand how gardens function within the wider landscape over time, and the factors that continue to shape them. Sustainable and inclusive garden design considers the manifestations of complex interactions between humans and natural processes seeking resilient landscapes, and in so addresses some of the key challenges of our times.

Garden Design courses have been successfully running for many years at Writtle University College .

Writtle is well-known for its design-oriented approach to Landscape Architecture and Garden Design (LAGD) education. Landscape studies are taught and practiced in all HE levels at Writtle up to doctoral level. Students entering Writtle therefore have the opportunity to top up their studies as high as their ambition and interest lead them.

Writtle University College has developed a studio culture that mirrors a professional practice. As such, DipHE Garden Design students experience the benefits from working alongside cohorts of students at higher levels, visiting professionals and staff in a supportive work-focused environment. Writtle's land-based heritage constitutes an important part of the programme, providing far more opportunities for ecological and plant knowledge education than any of its competitors.

The historic designed landscape of our university has a history going back 800 years and continues to inspire our education. Students are not only provided with individual studio space but also with an individual plot of land where they experiment with science (soil science, botany, horticulture), construction (materials) and design (art projects, implementation of small scale designs, and large scale modelling). Spatial design at the intimate scale of the garden explores the transition between interior and exterior spaces as a key component of learning on the landscape and garden design course. Students apply artistic approaches and proportional systems that are legible in small-scale design.

Course Duration

This 240-credit modular course can be completed in two-year on a full-time basis. Part-time students can take three - four years to complete the course.

The part-time programme offers greater flexibility for those with demanding commitments at home or work.

The DipHE Garden Design course considers contemporary garden design issues and emphasizes the importance of sustainable design practices, including water sensitive design, biodiversity and spatial planning at small scale .

The programme aims to ensure that students are work-ready for smaller scale professional businesses and gain the technical and scientific understanding required by these practices. Students work in a design culture that is nurtured by a range of specialist design studies. The programme develops sustainable approaches to design in landscape systems for public and private gardens.

The course also encourages the contemplation of place and identity, physical and phenomenal relationships, social and ecological systems and informs the design process in terms of function, context, meaning and form. The course intends to stimulate the development of an enquiring, analytical and creative approach and encourage the acquisition of independent judgement and critical self-awareness. Commencing with the exploration and understanding of underlying principles and appropriate skills, students pursue a programme of staged development progressing to increasingly independent and personally focused learning.

UCAS Tariff Points
GCE A Levels
80 UCAS tariff points, to include one GCE A level grade C/4 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.

This course appeals to individuals from a range of backgrounds, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the profession .

Personal interests can develop into advanced knowledge on various facets of the profession, culminating in different student projects. Many of our prospective students are drawn by their design interests that garden designers practice on small to medium scale public and domestic projects.

The course caters for those interested in designed landscapes, and managing and conserving them. Individuals with artistic skills will enjoy in creating models, both physical and digital, delivering sketch workbooks, and implement changes in the built environment through spatial design. Entrants onto the course who have a strong moral commitment to the fate of our planet can develop their understanding of sustainable design and its methods from a large scale context to a detailed design of a garden.

The acquisition of knowledge and understanding is approached through an emphasis on student-centred learning and a studio ethos. The following list shows the variety of assessment methods experienced on this course.

  • Lectures
  • Practical project work
  • Field work
  • Group work
  • tutorials
  • Studio seminars
  • Guest speakers and critics
  • Study tours

Assessment methods in the Diploma of Higher Education in Garden Design programme are very rarely through conventional written examinations. Modules are assessed through an extensive range of methods that test a wide variety of skills and competencies including:

  • Design Projects
  • Exhibitions
  • Visual presentations
  • Spoken presentations
  • Case studies / precedent studies
  • Essays
  • Reports and illustrated reports
  • Practical projects
  • Seminars
  • And, only occasionally, written examinations

Most assessment is individual, but some is through group work, which tests students' ability to work on a team. The ability to work on a team is a crucial workplace skill. Assignments are often constructed to build workplace skills and employability, and assessment is geared towards evaluating these skills. In the second year of the foundation degree, students consider the range of the garden design industry. Students are tutored to help them consider employment or explore the potential of progressing onto the third year of the degree programme.

A degree in garden design can lead to a wide range of opportunities .

Typically, graduates from Writtle are employed by small scale garden design or landscaping companies. Enterprising students are prepared to set up their own businesses and start to work alone or in collaboration with their fellow graduates. Our graduates can also continue to study and aim for a higher degree in Landscape and Garden Design or even MA Garden Design at Writtle University College.

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