This degree will be made available from 2019, subject to validation.

BA (Hons)

Garden Design

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The Open College of the Arts is the distance learning college of the University for the Creative Arts – one of the UK’s leading specialist art and design universities.


The Garden Design degree aims to provide both a thorough grounding in the principles of garden design and offers the opportunity to gain specialist skills and knowledge in chosen topics that address up-to-date issues relating to art, society and the environment. The degree balances academic content and development of academic skills with the necessary professional skills to be qualified for a career in the subject.

Important skills which will be included within modules include:

  • Research and Academic skills – finding materials, evaluating sources, correct citing and referencing, writing essays, critical thinking, presentation skills etc. These will be introduced in the core modules and developed each year. Later modules and the dissertation will demand a higher standard of research and critical discussion.
  • Plant Knowledge – build a palette of relevant plants and know their ecological requirements and design relevance: to be built throughout the course with tests at each stage (mainly based around design use rather than identification)
  • Technical Ability – graphical design and presentation skills and manual/computer-aided 2D and 3D drafting, integrated with the core modules and forming part of their assessment. Elective modules to be mainly delivered through parallel series of workshops and continuing to form part of module assessment.

Degree aims

  • To widen access to education in garden design through open and flexible learning.
  • To provide an intellectually stimulating programme based on high quality study program and tutor support.
  • To develop students’ creative capacities and their ability to synthesise, reflect, respond, apply and simulate finding
  • Develops students’ creativity
  • Develops students understanding of the theoretical debates around design practice generally and Garden design practice specifically
  • Introduces students to historic and contemporary design practices
  • Supports student autonomy and the ability to integrate theory and practice
  • Builds the confidence and skills necessary to sustain practice

Assessment methods

There are no examinations. Assessment is through the presentation of a portfolio of work made in response to each unit, that includes learning logs, practical projects, critical reviews, and reflections. Tutors support students by providing constructive feedback during the unit, with assessment taking place once the student has completed a unit in full, at one of three annual points. As students progress through the degree, they will be increasingly encouraged to undertake autonomous learning and self-evaluation. Additional support around the assessment process is available through OCA guidelines, Course Support Advisors, and peer support.


Assessment criteria

  • Creative and analytical thinking
  • Research and idea development
  • Visual and Technical Skills Context
  • Knowledge of Horticulture and ability to specify appropriate plants
  • Confidence in the design process – ability to develop a concept to a fully realised design

Degree prospectus

Full details of the content of the Garden Design degree, and pathways will be made available closer to the time of launch in 2019.

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The Open College of the Arts is the distance learning college of the University for the Creative Arts – one of the UK’s leading specialist art and design universities.

Creative careers

The creative sector employs 1.9 million people in the UK alone.

By studying the OCA BA (Hons) Garden Design degree, you can kick-start your career in the creative and horticultural industries by working part-time or doing an internship whilst gaining your academic qualifications at the same time.

Achieving a degree in Garden Design prepares you for a career in a variety of fields. Through the broad practical and theoretical skills you will have acquired during your studies, you will be highly employable not just for a career specifically in the fields of Garden Design, but in a range of industries and sectors. As well as a career in as a Garden Designer, you will have careers such as teacher, lecturer, amenity horticulturist, commercial horticulturist, horticultural consultant, horticultural therapist amongst many more, open to you.

Due to the OCA’s emphasis on practical work, you will have a substantial portfolio of work to take with you to potential employers, and if you opt to use a blog to document your learning journey throughout your studies, you will already have a rich online presence which can be a useful asset in promoting your future work to the world. For more information on the careers your OCA BA (Hons) Garden Design degree can lead to, please see the website.

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