Course Information

Where is the course delivered?

Cannington Campus

Who is the course for?

The Level 3 course is ideal for those who are already working in the industry or those looking to enter the employment market with aspirations to work at supervisory level. This course is also ideal for new entrants to the industry. Whether a school leaver or an existing professional in a non-related industry looking for a change in career direction this course prepares you for industry with technical knowledge and specialist skills training.

  • The course has a good mix of practical, hands-on activities together with theoretical work
  • If you have an interest in trees, woodlands or timber production then this course is ideal for you. The technical content is designed to provide a sound foundation for those wishing to study at HE level
  • The 90 Credit Diploma is also an ideal course if you only have one year to spare but wish to study a Level 3 programme

What does the course involve?

Year 1:

  • Health & Safety at work – standards in the workplace, key legislation and statutes, Health and Safety Executive, risk assessments, managing safe working practices
  • Land-based industry machinery operations – machine preparation, operation and legislation
  • Plant & Soil Science – plant structures, life cycles and physiology, soil type characteristics
  • Tree felling and chainsaw use – chainsaw maintenance, tree felling operations, dealing with arisings from tree work operations
  • Tree pests and diseases – principles of ill health in trees, diagnosis and consequences of diseases
  • Timber processing machinery – selection, maintenance and operation of processing machines, wood preservation and timber products
  • Arboriculture ground support – supporting tree work operations from the ground, safe work site management, risk assessment, ground based rigging operations, assist in aerial rescue
  • Arboriculture skills – access trees, equipment selection and maintenance, understand basic pruning operations, legislation, supporting tree climbing operations
  • Tree surveys and inspection – common and Statute law pertaining to trees, tree surveying, tree inspections, analyse and present data

Year 2:

  • Estate Skills – construction and maintenance of boundaries, structures, surfaces & wildlife habitats
  • Business Management – arboricultural businesses in the land-based sector, legal structure and organisation of businesses, the marketplace, financial and physical record keeping
  • Specialist project – based on your interests, career aspirations or topical important, you will plan, investigate and deliver a project report on any related topic
  • Tree and shrub pruning & maintenance – planning, legislation and pruning techniques, visual tree assessment and failure prediction
  • Woodland habitat management – woodland history, surveying, understanding and managing woodland ecosystems
  • Tree identification & planting – botanical naming, seasonal identification, planting, establishment & aftercare
  • Urban and community projects – history & benefits of urban and community forestry projects including management, funding, legal statutes, public involvement and resources
  • Tree Science – wood structure, decay processes, would response in trees, tree biomechanics
  • Advanced arboricultural practices – managing the worksite, undertaking aerial tree work operations, complying with legislation, team work, undertake aerial tree inspections and pruning operations. Dismantle trees.

What makes this course special?

A balanced mix of theoretical and practical hands on sessions which take place within the College grounds and at local woodlands, forests and private gardens to hone skills, broaden knowledge and inspire you to be the very best that you can be. You will also enjoy regular visits to forests, woodlands, parks and prestigious tree collections. A residential study tour is included within the study programme. Supporting you with your studies are a teaching team with extensive industry experience as professional practitioners.

Placements/Work Placements

You will gain 300 hours (150 hours per year) of work experience. This can be achieved through regular one day per week attendance combined with opportunities to further extend your experience during non-term periods. Although the responsibility of securing a suitable work placement falls with each student, we will support you through the process. You may find yourself working in local government, for a tree nursery, a tree surgery contractor, a forestry company or even a timber mill. It’s a great opportunity for you to explore a specific aspect of arboriculture that interests you.

Entry Requirements

You need five GCSEs in the A* to C or 9 to 4 range including English and Maths, or an appropriate Level 2 qualification. In addition, acceptance on the course is subject to a successful interview. 

What are the assessment methods?

The range of assessment methods includes:

  • Multiple Choice Exams
  • Practical assessments
  • Written assignments
  • Presentations
  • Projects

What are the College attendance requirements?

Your study programme is 16 hours per week over 36 weeks (per year). On average you should be spending 6-8 hours per week undertaking self-directed study. It’s recommended that you spend one day per week to complete your mandatory 150 hours of work experience.

Are there any additional costs for the course?

From September, your clothing should be non-snag and suitable for practical work. You will need a wet weather coat and strong walking boots.

By October half term (in your first year) you will need the following items (costs are approximate):

  • Chainsaw protective boots (minimum class 1) £150                                      
  • Chainsaw protective trousers (type C, minimum class 1) £170                      
  • Chainsaw protective gloves (type A, minimum class 0) £30                           
  • Combination hard hat with chin strap, ear defenders & face protection £70        
  • Personal First Aid pouch with rescue knife and whistle £25                            

What are the progression options?

Subject to a successful interview, on successful completion of your course you may be able to progress onto:

  • Level 3 Apprenticeship
  • Level 2 or Level 3 study programme in Horticulture
  • Level 2 or Level 3 study programme in Countryside Management
  • Higher Education (Level 4 and above) in Horticulture or Countryside Management


You may choose to progress onto full time employment. Opportunities within the industry include:

  • Arboricultural contracting companies
  • local authorities
  • private parks and gardens
  • Forestry Commission
  • National Trust
  • Opportunities also exist for undertaking tree work across the globe

Awarding Body

City & Guilds.

Course Details

Further Information