Need Assistance? 01384 442752 (UK)


Duration (approx) 2500 hours
Qualification Advanced Diploma


"Work in parks and recreation"

This course provides training for people to work in the management and development of recreation and/or park facilities and services. It is relevant to all types of situations including municipal parks, national parks, tourist parks, commercial landscapes, resorts, etc.





It's easy to enrol...

Select a payment plan:  

Select a learning method  



  • Municipal, National, Historic, Private Parklands
  • Leisure Centres, Sports grounds, Resorts, Tourist Attractions
  • Planning, Development, Maintenance, Management

Would you like to care and manage parks, natural parks, holiday and recreation resort facilities? Then this is the course to do. This course provides training for people to work in the management and development of recreation and park facilities and services. It is relevant to all types of situations including municipal parks, national parks, tourist parks, commercial landscapes, resorts, etc.

The Advanced Diploma in Horticulture includes core studies and electives. Core modules are compulsory, electives are chosen to suit your particular specialization or work needs.


2 workshops of 100 hrs (or equivalent). Documentation that specifies what is required can be provided so that these requirements may be satisfied by working with a professional anywhere in the world. Ask for further information.

Attendance at conferences, seminars etc totalling 100 hrs

Three projects (2 X 100 hrs), dealing with different aspects of the workplace.

The core modules should normally be completed before anything else. Beyond that it is possible for you to determine your order of studies.

Note: Fees cover all tuition and "essential" texts.
They do not include fees for any Industry conferences or seminars which are attended.

Note: Course fee does not include exam fees


Brief Outlines for Core Modules

Project Management

There are nine lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction
    Understanding what project management is, and what its applications might be.
  2. Project Identification
    Identification and defining projects which need management.
  3. Project Planning
    Developing a strategy and framework for the plan.
  4. Project Implementation
    Managers duties during implementation, developing a Preparation Control Chart,
    Regulating implementation.
  5. Project Completion & Evaluation
    Dangers in this stage, Steps in Project completion, Declaring a project sustainable,
    Developing an evaluation method.
  6. Technical Project Management Skills
    Preparing a proposal, budget control/management, steps in drawing up a
    post project appraisal.
  7. Leadership Skills
    Styles of leadership, leadership principles and methods.
  8. Improving Key Personnel Skills
    Listening skills, Negotiation skills, Conflict management.
  9. Major Assignment
    Developing full documentation for a project.

Instructional Skills
There are 11 lessons with a written assignment to be submitted at the end of each lesson as follows:

  1. Introduction to Training – Communication
  2. Understanding Learning
  3. Determining Training Requirements in The Workplace
  4. Commencing Training
  5. Developing a Lesson Plan
  6. Assessment and Evaluation of Training Programs
  7. Training Aids
  8. One-To-One Training
  9. Motivation Skills and Techniques
  10. Promoting Training
  11. Assessor Training

Horticulture I

There are twelve lessons in this course, as follows:

1. Plant Identification: Naming plants; distinguishing the taxonomic divisions of plants including family, genus, species and variety or hybrid; identifying the different parts of a flower; distinguishing the morphological characteristics of leaves.

2. Planting: Planting methods used for different types of plants including annuals, perennials, evergreen and deciduous plants; influence of environmental factors on planting techniques.

3. Soils: Classifying soils; sampling and testing soils; chemical and physical properties of soils; soil improvement techniques; composting; potting mixes.

4. Nutrition: Major and micro elements necessary for plant growth; nutrient deficiencies and toxicities; fertilisers.

5. Water Management: Irrigation systems – characteristics, advantages and disadvantages; drainage systems; water wise gardening.

6. Pruning: Pruning techniques; importance of pruning to growth, flowering and fruiting; pruning tools.

7. Weeds: Identifying common weeds; characteristics of weeds; control techniques; herbicides.

8. Pests and Diseases: Identifying common insect and disease problems; control methods; Integrated Pest Management; pesticides; hygiene procedures; chemical safety.

9. Landscaping: Stages of landscaping; design procedures; collating pre-planning information; preparing plans; selecting plants for specified sites.

10. Propagation: Asexual and sexual propagation; taking cuttings; sowing seeds; aftercare of propagated plants.

11. Lawns: Turf grass varieties; laying a new lawn; cultural techniques including watering, fertilizing, topdressing, aerating, pest and disease control.

12. Arboriculture: Tree management techniques including pruning, removal and tree surgery; identifying tree problems.

Arboriculture I

There are eight lessons in this module, as follows:

  1. Introduction To Arboriculture
  2. Tree Biology
  3. Soils In Relation To Trees
  4. Diagnosing Tree Problems
  5. Tree Surgery
  6. Pruning Of Trees
  7. Arboricultural Equipment
  8. Workplace Health & Safety.

Turf Care

There are eleven lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction - Turf Varieties
  2. Turf Grass Physiology
  3. Turf Establishment
  4. Soils
  5. Turf Weed Problems
  6. Turf Pests & Diseases
  7. Turf Maintenance Techniques
  8. Irrigation - An Overview
  9. Playing Fields & Bowling Greens
  10. Managing Established Turf
  11. Establishing Ornamental Turf


There are 10 lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction to Irrigation
  2. Soil Characteristics & Problems
  3. Estimating Plant Needs & Irrigation Scheduling
  4. Drainage
  5. Types of Irrigation Systems
  6. Trickle Systems
  7. Design Specifications
  8. Pumps & Filters
  9. Selecting the Right System for a Plant
  10. Design & Operation of Systems.

Biochemistry Plants
Biochemistry is the chemistry of living things. This introductory course concentrates on the chemistry of either animals or plants. Some secondary school chemistry will be helpful though it is not essential.

Lessons cover biochemical substances and terms, carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, proteins, metabolism, the nitrogen cycle, photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, acidity and alkalinity, nutrition, hormones, chemical analysis and biochemical applications in the industry.

Workplace Health and Safety 
An important subject area applicable to all industries. This 
course covers the following topics: 

  • Introduction to workplace health and safety, procedures, duty of care 
  • Legislation
  • Handling chemicals, including pesticides, cleaning chemicals, explosives, petrol
  • Handling equipment: tools and machinery
  • Handling objects: lifting, manual handling
  • Standards and rules: safety audits, codes of practice
  • Signs and signals: communicating in the presence of noise, eye problems, hazardous chemicals

Playground Design I

There are eight lessons in this unit as follows:

  1. Overview of Parks & Playgrounds
  2. Playground Philosophy
  3. Preparing a Concept Plan
  4. Materials
  5. Park & Playground Structures and Materials
  6. Local and Neighbourhood Parks
  7. Community Participation In Park Development
  8. Special Assignment.

Recreation Marketing
The course is divided into ten lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction to Marketing
  2. Marketing Strategy
  3. Media Promotions
  4. Promotional Materials
  5. Complaints
  6. Managing Membership Levels
  7. Sponsorship & Fundraising
  8. Managing Events
  9. Managing Promotional Activities
  10. Market sensitive recreation services.

Recreation Management-Human Resources

Lessons are structured as follows:

  1. Work Schedules
  2. Work Teams
  3. Workplace Efficiency
  4. Recruitment
  5. Staff Performance
  6. Workplace Communications
  7. Staff Grievances
  8. Developing a Staff Manual

Recreation Management -Financial/Clerical

There are eight lessons as follows:

  1. Financial Analysis
  2. Budget Control
  3. Legal Requirements
  4. Funding Opportunities
  5. Workplace Communications
  6. Managing Documents
  7. Managing a Resource Library
  8. Managing Information Technology


Workshop I

There are 3 lessons in this module as follows:

1. Workplace Tools, Equipment and Materials: Identifying and describing the operation of tools and equipment used in the workplace; routine maintenance of tools and equipment; identifying and comparing materials used in the workplace; using different materials to perform workplace tasks.

2. Workplace Skills: Determining key practical skills in the workplace; identifying and comparing commonly-performed workplace tasks; determining acceptable standards for workplace tasks; implementing techniques for improving workplace efficiency.

3. Workplace Safety: Identifying health and safety risks in the workplace; complying with industry OH&S standards; developing safety guidelines for handling dangerous items. 

Workshop II

Using problem-based learning (PBL) strategies you will complete three projects that address the following topics, relevant to your workplaces in your industry:


  •  Identifying and analysing scientific or technical problems
  •  Using and maintaining scientific or technical equipment
  •  Collecting and storing samples, data or other evidence
  •  Undertaking and evaluating scientific or technical procedures
  •  Describing workplace operations and equipment in scientific laboratories or technical facilities


Research Project I

There are 7 lessons as follows:

  1.  Determining Research Needs
  2.  Searching For Information
  3.  Research Methods
  4.  Using Statistics
  5.  Conducting Statistical Research
  6.  Research Reports
  7.  Reporting On A Research Project.

 Research Project 2.

There are 6 lessons in this module as follows:

  1. Identifying research issues
  2. Acquisition of technical information
  3. Specialised research techniques
  4. Research planning and designing
  5. Statistics
  6. Conducting research

Research Project 3.

There are five lessons in this module as follows:
1. Determining research priorities.
2. Planning research improvement
3. Testing the viability of alternative approaches
4. Conducting detailed research into commercial work procedures
5. Developing an improved approach to a workplace procedure



Requirements for Industry Meetings


In some courses you are required to attend industry meetings for a specified period of time as part of your course. The purpose of this requirement will be to ensure you are interacting with people who are actively working within your industry, in an “real world” industry context.

Through this interaction, you will have opportunities to relate things you have studied to real life situations, broadening your outlook and relevance with respect to your studies. Industry meetings develop networking and learning opportunities beyond other areas of study and should bring a practical perspective to your education which enhances everything else you do in your course.

What is Acceptable

The school will accept attendance ant any event or meeting where you have opportunity to interact with people from your industry, which is attended by one or more people who are actively involved in your industry, and are knowledgeable about your industry, whether they be amateurs or professionals.

Examples may be:

  • Joining and attending meetings of a professional association, institute, club, society or some other professional body.
  • Attending meetings as an intern or assistant to a consultant or other professional person (whether a paid or voluntary position)
  • Attending an exhibition, show, field days, festival or any other event.
  • Attending committee meetings, or serving on a committee of any organization which provides opportunities to interact with others from your industry.
  • Attendance at seminars, conferences or workshops which are attended by others from your industry.

You will normally make up your required hours by attending a variety of different events; for example: attending a week long conference might count for 50 to 60 hrs; and attending a trade show may count for 8 hours. Serving on a committee for 6 months may count for 3 to 4 hours per meeting.

Who Decides What to Attend?

You do!

As long as you can verify your attendance and the events can be seen as broadly satisfying the above criteria, it will be accepted,

When Do I Seek Approval?

After attending the events.

There is no need to seek approval or comment from an academic officer before attending meetings.



Career Tips

Qualifications are essential for furthering your career in Parks and Recreation, however there are many other things you can do to get ahead. These include:

  • experience tips - unpaid or paid, experience is highly valued by future employers.
  • networking tips - become a member of relevant parks networking groups and join website groups related to your field.
  • membership - become a member of relevant groups in your field eg. a National Parks Association, or other professional body. This is another way to demonstrate your commitment to your career.

This course is going to give you exceptional insights into an industry that is dynamic and exciting to work in. You will discover opportunities you probably didn't even consider. Work opportunities extend far beyond just working in a parks department or leisure centre. The parks and leisure industry is a huge employer in most countries around the world, both in the public sector and private sector. 

Some graduates may well find jobs in government operated leisure centres, sporting facilities or parks departments, that lead along a career path to eventually become a senior manager. Others may find employment in tourist parks, conservation reserves, or commercial operations such as tourist attractions, events management, fitness centres, zoos or amusement parks.  Yet others will discover a whole world of business opportunities, to start and operate their own business providing facilities or services in  parks and/or leisure.





Register to Study -Go to panel toward top of this page (right column)


Get Advice -Use our FREE COUNSELLING SERVICE to contact a tutor





Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Towergate Insurance welcomes Professional Liability insurance applications from ACS graduates across all disciplines. Click here for more details.

Meet some of our academics

John Mason (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Nurseryman, Landscaper, Garden Writer, Parks Manager and Consultant. Over 45 years experience; working in Australia and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 100 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Yvonne Sharpe (Horticulturist)Started gardening in 1966, studied a series of horticulture qualifications throughout the 1980's and 90's, culminating in an RHS Master of Horticulture. Between 89 and 1994, she worked teaching in horticultural therapy. Founded the West Herts Garden Association in 1990 and exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1991. In 1994, Yvonne joined the staff at Oaklands College, and between 1996 and 2000 was coordinator for all Amenity Horticulture courses at that college. Since leaving Oakland she has been active as a horticultural consultant, retail garden centre proprietor and sessional lecturer (across many colleges in southern England). In 2000, she also completed a Diploma in Management.

Check out our eBooks

Getting Work in a Modern WorldGetting Work in a Modern World is a must read; for students, parents, the unemployed, careers advisors or anyone interested in changing or forging a sustainable career. This is realistic guide to getting a job or starting out in business and understanding different industries. Topics covered in this book include 1/Career Myths, 2/ Finding Your Path, 3/ Understanding Employers, 4/ Preparing for a Job, 5/ Jobs to Consider: Looking to the Future, 6/ Information Technology, 7/ Business, Management and Sales, 8/ Health and Wellbeing, 9/ Horticulture, 10/ Wildlife and Environmental, 11/ Animal Care, 12/ Agriculture, 13/ Hospitality and Tourism, 14/ Media and 15/ Education.
Garden Design Part 1The Garden Design ebook part 1 is an essential handbook for students and landscape professionals. A foundation guide to garden design, this book provides stunning full illustrations to demonstrate tips and examples on garden design, functional uses and aesthetics. Some topics that are covered in this ebook include 1/ Introduction to Garden Design, 2/ Appropriateness of garden design, 3/ Creating an impact, 4/ Designing to a budget, 5/ Choosing plants, 6/ Using the garden, 7/ Where the garden meets the house, 8/ Making the winter garden more comfortable, 9/ Gardens for children, 10/The secure home and garden, 11/ Lighting a garden, 12/ Dealing with shade, 13/ Garden Art, 14/ Pots and planters, 15/ Colour in the garden, 16/ Applications for colour and 17/ Garden furniture.
Garden Design Part 2Part 2 of the Garden Design Series is an inspiring accompaniment to the first book, but works equally well in its own right. The Garden Design Part 2 ebook is ideal for students and landscaping professionals. Brimming with ideas and practical advice for designing a wide variety of different gardens. You will learn about different styles of gardens and how to create a style to suit a site or client. Topics covered in this ebook include 18/ (Continuing on from Garden Design 1) Surfacing ideas, 19/ Garden arches, pergolas & pavilions, 20/ Dealing with confined spaces, 21/ Water gardens, 22/ Using plants in the garden, 23/ Formal gardens, 24/ Natural gardens, 25/ Rainforest gardens, 26/ Coastal gardens, 27/ Cottage gardens, 28/ Late Victorian/Edwardian gardens, 29/ Oriental gardens, 30/ Mediterranean gardens, 31/ Mexican style, 32/ Minimalist landscape design and 33/ Eclectic gardens.
Getting Work in HorticultureExplore what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse this industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion changes across your working life.