Student Handbook & Induction

Welcome to the new RHS Level 2: Principles of Plant Growth and Development!

What you'll learn: the syllabus

The new RHS Level 2: Principles of Plant Growth and Development is split into 2 "units" (blocks of 4 courses - see below), with Qualification-wide outcomes. 

Within each topic (course) there are 3 sets of Assessment Outcomes (AO1, AO2, AO3) which are defined in the syllabus. You will be examined across AO1, AO2, AO3 and Qualification-wide topics:

Assessment Outcome 1 (AO1)

Knowledge recall of scientific ideas, processes, techniques, procedures, and making correct use of terms, symbols and units of measurement

Assessment Outcome 2 (AO2)

Application of knowledge and understanding of concepts, theories, facts to different situations and contexts through presentation of reasoned explanations and analysis and interpretation of information and ideas

Assessment Outcome 3 (AO3)

Application of knowledge and understanding in an integrated and holistic way in order to reach conclusions and make judgements and recommendations.

We (and the RHS) recommend you work through the courses in the order below:

Unit 1:

1. RHS: Plant Science 1 (1)

2. RHS: Plant Health (2)

3. RHS: Plant Nutrition (3)

4. RHS: Plant Specification (4)

Unit 2:

5. RHS: Plant Science II (5)

6. RHS Planting Styles (6)

7. RHS: Horticulture and Society (7)

8. RHS: Biodiversity (8)

The full syllabus is available here: RHS-Level-2-Certificate-in-the-Principles-of-Plant-Growth-and-Development-v2-16.06.22.pdf

Qualification-wide outcomes

Throughout the course you'll be learning about Qualification-wide outcomes, and you'll need to demonstrate your knowledge of Qualification-wide outcomes in each topics in the exam.

Health and Safety

  • Knowledge of, and compliance with, current legislation as it relates to horticulture
  • The management of risk within horticulture
  • The storage, care and maintenance of PPE, tools and equipment in horticultural settings.


  • The impact of horticulture on the wider environment, with specific reference to:
  • Reduction of the negative impacts of horticultural practices
  • The contribution of horticulture to the three pillars of sustainability (economic viability, social equity and environmental protection)
  • The concept that horticulture should be net-positive, benefitting the wider environment
  • The impact of horticulture on climate change
  • The impact of climate change on horticulture.

Best Practice

  • Professional approaches and techniques
  • Professional use of named plant species in a wide range of horticultural settings
  • Horticultural practices which are professional, current, effective and sustainable
  • The adoption of trial results, research and development findings.

Equality and diversity

  • Knowledge and compliance with all current legislation as it relates to horticulture
  • The concepts of respect, fairness and dignity

RHS Level 2 Tutors

You'll be taught by two RHS-approved tutors:

Dr Noel Kingsbury

Noel is a horticultural writer, garden designer and horticultural consultant. Noel has worked extensively with renowned landscape designer and one of the leaders of the "New Perennial Movement" Piet Oudolf (among others). He is best known for his ecological approach to planting design.

Tom Cole 

Tom Cole is an RHS Associate. He regularly lectures and has his own landscape and maintenance business. He is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio Essex and a contributor for many garden magazines.

Getting started

Once the course is ready to start you'll be able to start (and learn) at a time which suits you. 

To view your course sign in to your Learning with Experts account and click the "My Courses" button. Then when you're ready to start press the "Start Course" button.

Once you've pressed start we'll be in contact with you to register you with the RHS - we'll need to add your details onto the RHS platform to register you (some students may have bought the course without an RHS registration fee, so we'll be in touch if there is a registration fee to pay - the price for registration is currently £20).

Exam fees are currently £190, and were included in the price of the course if you bought the course after 28 September 2022. If you bought the course before this date we'll be in contact at the point of registration with payment details for RHS exams.

As soon as you press start you must be registered with the RHS.

As soon as you press "Start" your tutor access time will start and you'll be placed in a class, so it's best to only press the Start button when you're ready (get in contact with us if you've pressed it by accident and we can help, and we can extend your tutor time if you need a bit more time to work through the content).

The RHS course is a collection of 8 courses, you should complete the courses in the order of the RHS syllabus:

  1. RHS: Plant Science 1 (1)
  2. RHS: Plant Health (2)
  3. RHS: Plant Nutrition (3)
  4. RHS: Plant Specification (4)
  5. RHS: Plant Science II (5)
  6. RHS Planting Styles (6)
  7. RHS: Horticulture and Society (7)
  8. RHS: Biodiversity (8)

Class Discussion:

When you join the class you'll start in the "Class Discussion" area. Make sure you post a quick note in the "Chat to your class" box to introduce yourself to the other students in the class and explain a bit about your horticultural background and knowledge. 

Don't worry if this is your first step into horticulture - we're all here to support you, and interacting in the online classroom is a great way to meet others in the industry and in your class. 

The "Class Discussion" section works a bit like a social media feed - you'll be able to see others joining the class, chat to other students, and see any updates from tutors or moderators, and tutor or student activity (assignments and questions).


Once you've introduced yourself you'll find your lessons on the left hand side of the screen. Click lesson number 1 to get started.

In each lesson you'll find:

  • on-demand video lesson - presented by the course tutor, you can watch each lesson as many times as you need to
  • downloadable class notes and handbook - these include the slides from the lesson, the video lesson content, further reading or additional information and links for further reading
  • mandatory assignments - complete your assignment and submit it to the class. It's a great way to practice for the exam and confirm you've learnt key outcomes from the lesson. (If you don't feel that you can share your assignment in the class then you can click on your tutor's name and send it to them directly).

Once you've completed your assignment you can move onto the next lesson in the course.


In each class you'll see a Moderator. This is the Learning with Experts' team, and we're here to help if you have any questions about accessing the course. Click on the Moderator's name to get in contact.


Each lesson has mandatory assignments, these are questions based around the lesson and the course content you have worked through and will help prepare you for the exams. 

The assignments cover topics from Assessment Outcomes 1 and 2 (AO1 and AO2), and some assignments might refer to the topic in the wider context of the course across different topics, for example Assessment Outcome 3 (AO3) questions. You will also see Qualification-wide outcomes as assignment questions.

It is a condition of the course that you complete and upload assignments.

You will receive model answers for all the assignment questions to help confirm your knowledge and prepare you for the exams.

Tutor feedback is generally supplied within 72 hours of submitting your assignment. (If you haven't received feedback please let us know and we'll contact the tutor for you.) 

Time to complete the course

The RHS has 2 measures of course time:

  • Guided Learning Hours (GLH): The Guided Learning Hours (GLH) represent the time that the learner spends learning under the immediate guidance and supervision of a tutor and includes assessment by the tutor, as well as invigilated exams. Guided Learning Hours are always less than total qualification time, as learners are expected to complete a certain amount of study in their own time. The Guided Learning Hours for this qualification is at least 120.
  • Total Qualification Time (TQT): Total Qualification Time (TQT) includes the Guided Learning Hours and represents the notional time that an average learner could reasonably expect to take to complete the learning outcomes of the units to the standard determined by the assessment criteria, and gain the qualification. It includes all face-to-face contact with tutors as well as assessment time and unsupervised directed study, coursework and practice. The Total Qualification Time for this qualification is 180.

Your feedback

We value your feedback at any point during the course - if you've got any questions or feedback please contact us by clicking on the orange speech bubble, or click on the Moderator's name in your class.

At the end of the course you'll be asked to complete a short survey about the course - please do complete the survey it really helps us and the RHS to evaluate the education we are providing.

RHS Registration

When you start your course we'll be in touch to request further mandatory details to complete your RHS registration which include email address, first name, last name and date of birth. These responses will be uploaded onto the RHS Quartz portal, and you should receive access to the Quartz portal to view your details including exam results.

The RHS registration fee is £20, which has been included in the course costs since 9 August 2022.


When you start your course we'll be in contact to register you on the RHS portal and for your RHS exams. By default we'll register you for the next possible set of exams, but if you would like to take exams on a different date (within the RHS exam structure) please let us know as soon as possible. We'll need to register you within 30 days of you starting the course.

RHS Level 2 exams take place in February, June and October. 

2023 exams are:


10th Feb 2023 - 09:30-11:30 Unit 1


26th June 2023 - 09:30-11:30 Unit 1

27th June 2023 - 09:30-11:30 Unit 2


16th Oct 2023 - 09:30-11:30 Unit 1

17th Oct 2023 - 09:30-11:30 Unit 2

(On the RHS exam timetable look for exams for RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth and Development)

RHS exam fees have been included in the cost of the course from 28 Sept 2022. RHS exam fees are currently (2022) £190 for online exams (this includes an RHS admin fee per exam). If you need to pay for the exams we'll be in contact with payment details. You must pay for exams before entry. 

There are deadlines for exam application (see the examination dates link below), if you apply after this date then there are additional late entry fees payable (see Qualification Fee List for details)

Generally we expect students to take 1 week per lesson to complete the lesson and assignments, there are 46 lessons in total, so you could be ready to take your exams in a minimum of 46 weeks. However many students choose to spread their learning out over a longer period, and take breaks between each course. You can choose your learning speed.

You'll be ready to take your exam when you have completed all the lessons, uploaded all the mandatory assignments, completed the qualification-wide outcomes learning material, exam preparation and exam practice materials.

If you feel you might need Special Assistance or Reasonable Adjustments for your exam or course access you should contact us

RHS Examination dates: RHS-Qualifications-Examination-Dates-(2023)v15-14.03.22.pdf

Registration & Certification process: AO-registration-and-certification-process-v5_student.pdf

Qualifications fee list: RHS Qualifications Fee list 2022

Sample examination papers

The following exam papers have been provided by the RHS as a sample. We recommend you work through these exam papers (using the suggested timing of 120 minutes each) before sitting the exam as preparation:

Sample exam paper Unit 1: L2 Certificate Theory Question paper (Unit 1) v1 23.09.22

Sample exam paper Unit 2: L2 Certificate Theory Question paper (Unit 2) v1 23.09.22

Reasonable adjustments & special considerations

The RHS does accommodate reasonable adjustments for exams eg additional time, however we would need to apply for it on your behalf at the time of registering you for exams (we suggest we do it at least a week before the closing date for entries so we've got plenty of time to discuss with the RHS), with supporting evidence. To apply contact us on

When we apply we will need to keep a record of the application for 12 months, and have your consent to pass on your details to the RHS. When we apply we'll need to provide:

  • Centre number and name
  • Candidate name
  • Candidate number (where available)
  • Qualification and/ or unit number/ code
  • Qualification title and level
  • Date of the examination (month and year)/ course start and end dates of practical qualifications (day/ month and year)
  • Adjustment required. It is the centre’s responsibility to recommend the adjustment needed by the candidate
  • Reason for the adjustment. The centre should give details of the effect on the candidate’s performance in the assessment
  • Indication of support given to the candidate in the learning and assessment
  • Supporting evidence - This may include written reports of assessments of the candidate’s needs done within the centre, history of provision within the centre or copies of current medical, specialist evidence (the credentials of the assessor must be clearly indicated).

Students outside the UK

If you're based outside the UK and with more than 5 hours time difference then we can apply to the RHS for you to sit your exams the next day at the start time in your timezone. For example if the exams are on 26 June at 9:30am in the UK, then you would be able to sit the exam on 27 June at 9:30am in your timezone. To apply for this contact us with the country you're based in before the closing date for the exams you'd like to take.

Examination results & certification

Once you've sat the exam we expect to receive your results in 50 working days of the examination date. We will notify you of your results by email. If you haven't received your results after 50 working days please contact us on

We receive your certificate within 30 working days of the exam results, once we receive your certificates we'll send them onto you.

If you need to Appeal your results or have any questions please check the Appeals policy and process below, and get in touch with us: 

Appeals policy: Appeals-Policy-v4_student.pdf

RHS Student Membership

As a Learning with Experts' student, you qualify for the £10 RHS student membership (saving you £39.95 annually).

The membership includes The Garden magazine, priority booking and discounted ticket rates for RHS Shows (including RHS Chelsea Flower Show and RHS Hampton Court), unlimited days out at the RHS Gardens and over 200 partner gardens across the UK and abroad. 

You'll need your Learning with Experts' student number and a screengrab of your Learning with Experts receipt. Contact us for your student number: 

Course reading

Included in your course notes is further reading and links to further reading by topic.

Additional documents

RHS Level 2: Principles of Plant Growth and Development syllabus: RHS-Level-2-Certificate-in-the-Principles-of-Plant-Growth-and-Development-v2-16.06.22.pdf

Qualifications fee list: RHS Qualifications Fee list 2022

RHS Examination dates: RHS-Qualifications-Examination-Dates-(2023)-[28253157].pdf

Registration & Certification process: AO-registration-and-certification-process-v7_student.pdf

Access and Fair Assessment policy: Access-and-Fair-Assessment-Policy-v5_student.pdf

Appeals policy: Appeals-Policy-v5_student.pdf

Conflict of Interest policy: Conflicts-of-Interest-policy.pdf

Complaints Policy: Complaints-Policy.pdf

Sample exam paper Unit 1: L2 Certificate Theory Question paper (Unit 1) v1 23.09.22

Sample exam paper Unit 2: L2 Certificate Theory Question paper (Unit 2) v1 23.09.22


Any questions or need further support?

Contact us at any point during your course just click on the orange speech bubble, or click on the Moderator's name in your class. We look forward to hearing from you!

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