Course Handbook & Induction

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

The course is currently subject to accreditation by the RHS, and we expect to be able to open classrooms in September 2022.

This document forms part of your course handbook which includes:

  • Lesson notes (which include structured content in the order of the syllabus, lesson video content, slides from the tutor, further reading, and additional information on the topic) 
  • Qualification-wide outcomes learning materials
  • Student handbook and Induction (this document):
  • Examination preparation
  • Examination practice materials (sample questions, model answers and timed practice)

What you'll learn: the syllabus

The new RHS Level 2: Principles of Plant Growth and Development is split into 2 units, with Qualification-wide outcomes:

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

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 discuss registration 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 a registration fee, so we'll be in touch if there is a registration fee to pay - the price for registration is currently £20).

We'll also ask you to tell us when you expect to take exams, and which exam centre you plan to take exams at, or whether you plan to do online exams. Exam fees are not included in the course, and in-person exam fees are currently £150 (online exam fees will be an additional charge).

As soon as you press "Start" if you're an Expert your tutor time will start, and for all students 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!).

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).

You'll also see a notification when an Expert student has received feedback from the tutor on their assignment - make sure you read the tutor feedback on other student's assignment as this will develop your learning of the topic.


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 notes - these include the slides from the lesson, the video lesson content, further reading or additional information and links for further reading
  • your mandatory assignment details - even if you're a Peer student (and haven't signed up to receive individual feedback from the tutor) you should 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. You can always upgrade to Expert level at any point - just get in touch with us
  • assignments from other students - scroll down to below the assignment details and if other students have submitted assignments you'll be able to see what other students have submitted and be able to read tutor feedback on the Expert students' assignments. This is part of the learning process, and we recommend you review other assignments as part of your work in each lesson. If no other students have submitted assignments yet, upload your assignment and then review other students' assignments as they're submitted (you'll receive a notification in the class feed and in your daily notification emails). You'll also see and should read model answers from the tutors.

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 for both Peer and Expert students, these are questions based around the lesson and the course content you have worked through. 

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, for example Assessment Outcome 3 (AO3) questions. You will also see Qualification-wide outcomes as assignment questions.

Expert students

If you're an 'Expert' student you'll receive personal feedback from the tutor on your assignments. Tutor feedback is 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. You should also review the all the tutor feedback submitted on other Expert assignments in your class, and tutor's model answers.

Peer students

'Peer' students don't receive individual feedback from the tutor, but the mandatory assignments are designed to test your learning in preparation for the RHS Level 2 exams. You should review the all the tutor feedback submitted on Expert assignments in your class, and tutor's model answers.

If you want to upgrade to the 'Expert' level of the course please contact us.

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.

While every student is different and learns at different paces, Learning with Experts breaks down the Guided Learning Hours and Total Qualification Time as follows:

  • Our core course material is provided in presenter-led, lecture-style videos. Our veteran RHS-accredited tutors Dr Noel Kingsbury and Tom Cole deliver the RHS syllabus in an efficient and engaging manner, in a variety of horticultural settings.
  •  Students are given access to transcripts of these video lessons to assist their studies and for reasons of disability inclusion. (The video and transcripts are the same Guided Learning Hours time and included in the course handbook GLH).
  •  A separate and distinct course handbook (which is delivered to students in sections) is based upon the RHS syllabus structure, and has been created in collaboration with our tutors. This also includes Qualification-wide outcomes, examination preparation and practice, the student handbook and induction, tutor slides and further reading (78 hours -  based on 1.5 hours per lesson and 3 hours each for Qualification-wide outcomes, exam preparation and exam practice)
  • Students are given mandatory assignments for each lesson, to consolidate their learning. (138 hours, this is included in Total Qualification Time TQT.)
  •  As well as personal assignment feedback (for Expert students), tutors provide students with model answers and ALL students (Peer and Expert) have access to all tutor assignment feedback (46 hours).
  • For each of the eight units our presenters will gather questions and provide feedback on areas which students have identified and requested. (16 hours - based on 2 hours per course)
  • RHS Registration
  • RHS Examinations (4 hours)

This provides Peer and Expert students with a total of 144 Guided Learning Hours.

Total Qualification Time (TQT):

-       Total Guided Learning Hours (as above) = 144 hours 

-       Assignment answering time (3-6 hours per week) = 138 hours (minimum)

-       Interactive classroom activity (topic discussion) (1 hour per lesson) = 46 hours

Total Qualification Time = 328 hours


Course handbook this is delivered throughout the course in sections relevant to the lessons and includes lesson content, qualification-wide outcomes, exam preparation and practice.

Assignment reading time

Each student should read the feedback from the tutor on assignments submitted by other students. (Feedback on assignments only comes from tutors and is only on Expert level assignments). All tutor comments on assignments are available for Peer and Expert students to read. We expect all students (Peer and Expert) to read Expert assignments with tutor feedback and model answers supplied by the tutors which forms the assignment reading time

Interactive classroom activity

Students can discuss topics with each other in the classroom (as in a normal classroom), however all students should be aware that the topic content experts are the tutors.

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. We will also request your expected exam date and centre (or online). 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.


When you start your course we'll be in contact to check when, where and how you expect to take your RHS examinations.

Normally RHS Level 2 exams take place twice a year - February and June. The first exams for the new RHS Level 2: Principles of Plant Growth and Development will take place in June 2023.

Exam fees are not included in the cost of the course and are currently (2022) £190 for online exams (this includes an 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.

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 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) 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

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 registered and sat your exam as an external candidate eg at a venue hosted by RHS Qualifications e.g RHS Garden Wisley, then certificates will be posted directly to you using the address supplied on the registration form.)

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 personal advice from the RHS to supplement your study, 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

As the syllabus is new we haven't received recommended text books from the RHS yet. However 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)v15-14.03.22.pdf

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

Access and Fair Assessment policy: Access-and-Fair-Assessment-Policy-v4_student_compressed.pdf

Appeals policy: Appeals-Policy-v4_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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