FdSc Arboriculture and Urban Forestry

Study the most current developments in arboriculture and urban forestry.

Course Details

  • Department

    Forestry and Arboriculture
  • Qualification

  • Course Type

    Full Time
  • Length

  • Location(s)


Course at a glance

The FdSc Arboriculture with Urban Forestry provides vocational-based study for management roles in the arboriculture industry. The programme has been designed in close collaboration with industry leaders to fulfil the needs of the sector, and develop the next generation of arborculturists.



Centre Code


What you will learn

There are industry-experience modules in both years and personal development planning. You’ll study the most current developments in arboriculture and urban forestry. In arboriculture, opportunities exist for people with many skills including management in both commercial enterprises and local government. The industry is facing a skills shortage, with businesses eager to recruit applicants with the required practical and higher skills and qualifications, especially at managerial level, so employment in this sector is buoyant.

The programme is enhanced by science-based studies where you’ll gain knowledge of tree and plant biology and woodland management. You will learn a range of other vital skills including tree and plant identification, pest and disease identification, survey and inspection skills and a broad knowledge of health and safety legislation, all essential to becoming a credible and successful practitioner.

To support learning we have extensive facilities including a fantastic tree collection and access to woodland gardens and native woodlands. We also have excellent laboratory facilities, maintenance workshops and specialist industry equipment.

Year 1 Modules

• Industry Skills

Students will complete a minimum of 150 hours in a relevant approved industry placement, enabling them to relate academic study to the types of work they will be expected to undertake for an employer. The taught component of this module is designed to support students’ skills development as well as developing an awareness of industry health and safety. Students will appraise their own professional and vocational development in the context of a working organisation and use this to enhance career prospects.

• Academic Skills

Essential elements of success at Higher Education are to: find, evaluate and critique academic texts, present in an academic format and demonstrate the conventions of writing within Higher Education. This module aims to develop and enhance the key academic skills and competences which enable students to study effectively on higher education programmes.

• Introduction to Business

Foundation Degrees are vocational qualifications intended to prepare students for work in a globalised business arena. This module is intended to introduce the business environment as an exciting, competitive, globalised and financially driven place to work. Students are then challenged to develop the appropriate understanding and basic skills required to function within a business context.

• Plant and Soil Science

Plant growth is important to the future of food, energy and fibre production on a global scale. With a significant increase in the global population predicted over the coming decades, understanding efficient soil management and sustainable plant production will become increasingly important. Knowledge of the key structures and functions of plants and their associated processes is fundamental to this concept. As soil is an essential resource for plant growth, understanding essential soil processes and functions will provide a greater appreciation of the relationship between healthy soils and plant production. The module is designed to develop the learner’s understanding of the fundamental factors that affect plant-soil interactions. During this module the learner will identify the important aspects of this relationship and consider how future sustainable management systems can meet the demands of a growing global population. By the end of the module the learner will also have identified ways in which humans influence natural resource management and how human interaction with the environment affects plant and soil processes.

• Principles of Urban Forestry

The value of urban trees is increasing due to the recognition of the ‘Ecosystem Services’ they provide. This module will explore the development of urban forestry in UK and how trees benefit society. It will identify the factors and implications for successful establishment of urban trees and the developing technologies that support sustainable management of green infrastructure. Students will develop an understanding of urban tree management objectives for sustainable environments. This is relevant to all arboricultural disciplines and especially local authority officer roles.

• Tree Identification and Dendrology

This module is fundamental to the programme as it equips students with the principles of tree classification and taxonomy. It also introduces them to woody plant form and function. They will use this information as a basis for many subsequent modules including, Arboriculture Practices, Tree Biology and Tree and Woodland Management. This module will form the basis for more detailed study of trees and their uses in the landscape, timber characteristics and seasonal changes.

• Tree and Woodland Management

Trees and woodlands represent a vital resource to both urban and rural Britain. Whether in the government, private or commercial sectors good tree and woodland management principles are needed to effectively sustain the high ecological, financial and environmental benefits of both individual trees and woodlands. The module will cover the development and management of woodland and the evolving principles of tree biology and physiology. It will examine both urban and rural environments including, creation of new woodlands and forests, species selection and the main commercial sylvicultural systems. It will also examine maintenance, harvesting and management of trees and assess their impacts on the environment and wildlife conservation. During this module learners will acquire an appreciation of woodland ecology, tree growth and interaction with biotic and abiotic environments, and should be able to assess the impact of trees on wildlife conservation. They should understand the impact of both trees on the environment and of management on forest systems, and be able to critically analyse holistic and sustainable approaches to woodland management.

• Arboricultural Practices

Arboricultural practitioners need a thorough understanding of arboriculture equipment, practice and procedures to facilitate effective management, training and compliance. This module provides the technical information including relevant management practices and safety considerations to ensure personnel involved in the care of trees are aware of the technical and functional aspects of arboriculture. There is a focus upon the operational, logistical, legislative, physical and seasonal constraints associated with differing tree management situations.

Year 2 Modules

• Personal Research Project

This module introduces students to the key components of the research process, set in the context of their own specialist discipline. Students plan and prepare a research proposal, critically appraising the research literature from a wide variety of sources. They will then apply research methodology to their chosen subject area to undertake and complete their own individual research project. Skills of analysis and synthesis will be supported in the level 5 module ‘Academic Development’

• Academic Development

Developing further the skills and competences required for study in higher education to enable critical writing and reflection. Underpinning knowledge of sampling and experimental design, statistical techniques and advanced IT skills will develop the competences required for undertaking research projects and presenting work in a professional manner.

• Professional Development

Students studying this module will complete an approved placement of at least 150 hours duration. Students will be able to critically appraise their own abilities and vocational skills within the context of a working organisation. The taught component of this module is designed to further develop students’ employment skills to enable them to reflect on their continuing personal and professional development needs for the future.

• Business Enterprise

This module encourages the learner to develop their business, employability and entrepreneurial skills. In addition this module challenges the learner to consider enterprise (self-employment) as an alternative to traditional employment.

• Tree Pests and Diseases

An understanding of diseases and disorders caused by pathogens (infectious diseases) and environmental conditions (physiological factors) is critical to ensure the health of trees. In this module students will explore the underlying principles of identification, life cycles and economic impact of a range of tree pathogens that may lead to a reduction in health, safety and longevity. The impact of pathogens upon tree health is dictated by the environment in which it grows, the age and pre-existing factors such as pruning history, ground disturbance and pollution. This module will allow students to evaluate the myriad of potential pre-disposal factors relating to infection or infestation and the subsequent ability of the plant to resist, co-exist or recover.

• Project and Contract Management

This module, aims to develop the student’s understanding of the principles of project management and to give them the ability to schedule the various stages and tasks of a project. The management of projects is critical for many sectors of the industry and the techniques and skills developed here will go to inform the basics for managing contracts. This aspect will be developed by introducing students to the various documents and procedures used in contracts for landscape construction and all maintenance contracts. It will look at the differences between private and public sectors, the tendering process and types of contract used. As well as developing the student’s ability to draw up the components of a set of contract documents for a given subject specific area.

• Planning and Tree Law

This module aims to provide students with the necessary knowledge and understanding of the laws and guidelines which impact upon tree owners/managers and professionals working within the arboriculture industries. A wide range of statute law, common law, and guideline requirements and recommendations will be investigated. Their impacts on arboricultural practice and planning will be examined. The module content includes laws and guidelines related to environmental protection, liability, health and safety, conservation, heritage, public safety, rare species and waste disposal. Students will also investigate the UK planning process and should be enabled to write and evaluate planning applications involving key aspects of tree work. They will carry out appraisal of trees on a construction site using the British Standard approach and prepare a report.

• Tree Biology

This module covers woody plant physiology and its application to the practice of arboriculture; development and survival strategies, energy use and allocation. Biomechanics and hazard assessment will also be explored in the context of risk management and tree health. The associations between trees and mycorrhizae are explored to enable the student to understand the implications for tree health.

Key Information

Applicants should have achieved 48 UCAS points plus 5 GCSEs including English, Maths and Science at grade C/4 or above. Equivalent qualifications may be accepted in lieu of GCSEs. In addition applicants must have successfully completed a minimum of one year of Level 3 study and/or have significant industry experience.

An initial assessment process may be used to inform the College of your current status. Some students may be asked to attend an interview.

Applicants who believe they may be eligible for Accreditation of Prior Certificated and/or Experiential Learning (APCL/APEL) will be considered on an individual basis. If you have any queries in relation to entry qualifications, then please contact the University Centre team directly.

On successful completion, students may wish to consider progressing onto one of the University Centre’s top-up course, BSc (Hons) Applied Horticulture Top Up allowing students to graduate with a BSc or BSc(Hons) degree.

Students alternatively may wish to consider careers in a variety of industries focused on working with local authorities, tree officer, consultancies, botanic gardens and government research agencies.

UK/EU, Isle of Man and Channel Isles Students on BSc Honours Degree/ BSc Ordinary Degree/ BSc Top up/ Foundation Degree/ Extended Foundation Degree – £9,000

Non-EU Overseas Students on Honours Degree/ Ordinary Degree/ Foundation Degree/ Extended Foundation Degree – £14,000

This programme requires students to undertake 300 hours of work placement, with 150 completed each academic year. Work placement is completed with an external provider which is arranged by the student. All work placements are subject to a health and safety check by the college to ensure that placements are suitable and safe. Support can be made available via the module tutor to help locate a suitable placement.

If you are already working in the sector, it may be possible to APEL (Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning) this element of the course. Evidence of such employment will be needed, outlining duties etc for consideration at the APL panel, where applications will be considered on an individual basis. If you have any queries in relation to this, then please contact the University Centre team directly.

Assessments will be designed to give students the opportunity of performing tasks that they would be asked to do in employment.

There is a range of assessment methods used, including reports, case studies, presentations, Viva -Voce, continual assessments and exams. Typically each module involves two assessments.

In addition to tuition fees and accommodation if applicable, students will need to budget for extra costs as part of this course and will be responsible to cover them.

Below is a list with approximate cost to help with your budgeting.

Protective gloves £7- £20

Suitable long-sleeved top £10- £20

Warm waterproof coat £30- £100

Wellingtons £30- £50

Suitable walking boots £30- £70

Lab safety glasses £10

White lab coat £10- £20

Optional course trips £20 – £2000 (Dependant on the trip/tour)

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