In our opinion, the Level 2 Botany Diploma course from Oxford Learning College stands out amongst other online botany courses. This is partly due to the clear, comprehensive structure and detail of its content and the progress opportunities it provides.
Not only will you come away from this course with a wealth of knowledge about plant biology and ethnobotany, but you’ll also be able to progress to a level 4 diploma or even higher!
There’s even an Accredited version of the course available for an extra cost.
Botany, the science of the vegetable kingdom, is one of the most attractive, most useful, and most extensive departments of human knowledge. It is, above every other, the science of beauty.Joseph Paxton
So, you want to learn more about plants. Good choice! Of all the things to deepen your understanding of, the plant kingdom is undoubtedly one of the most worthwhile subjects.
From supplying the oxygen we breathe to purifying water and sustaining the animal kingdom, plants are a constant source of life and intrigue.
Sometimes also referred to as ‘plant science,’ the study of botany covers almost everything there is to know about plants, from their physiologies to their ecological functions.
If you want to garner a better understanding of the world around you and how to improve it, studying botany is an excellent place to start.
Best of all, with the amount of educational content available online, you don’t have to wait to get started! Today, we’re going to be introducing you to our top 5 best botany courses available online right now!
Let’s kick things off with our top pick, which is the Level Botany Diploma course, available online through Oxford Learning College.
This comprehensive yet in-depth botany course would be our first recommendation for anyone seeking to develop a detailed understanding of the field of plant science.
This course is split into ten different modules, each of which covers a crucial facet of the study of botany.
Starting with a general introduction to botany, the course progresses through modules on vegetative anatomy, metabolism, reproduction and growth, genetics, diversity, ecology, and finally, ethnobotany (the study of human and cultural relationships with plants).
As you can see, this content is highly comprehensive, covering everything from the physiology of plants to the history of their medicinal, cosmetic, and ritualistic applications.
However, the material is also detailed and in-depth, which is why students must be at least 16 years old to enroll and have a GCSE (or equivalent) education.
The course should take one year to complete, at a rate of approximately 20 hours of time commitment per module. You can enroll at any time and opt into coursework or final exam assessments if you want to test your knowledge formally.
A key advantage of this course over some of the online competition is that it has a lot of potential for progression.
Not only can you opt to enroll in an accredited version of this course for an additional charge, but completing the Level 3 Botany Diploma will enable you to progress onto Level 4 or higher, should you wish to do so.
Despite its superior academic advantages, there is a clear drawback to this course, which is that it’s significantly more expensive than the majority of botany courses online.
While we stand by the fact that the content is absolutely worth the money, we also recognize that this just won’t be an option for many potential students.
Not to worry, though – there are plenty of other fantastic and less expensive botany courses online. Let’s take a look at them now…
The Understanding Plants Part 1 course, accessible through Coursera, is one of the best-reviewed botany courses currently available online. This is a 2-part course, so stay tuned for our review of part 2 below!
Something that immediately stood out to us about this botany course was the interesting perspective from which it is taught.
The name of the course is ‘What a Plant Knows,’ and the first module focuses on exploring the sensory experience of plants.
In this way, the course content encourages its students to think both scientifically and philosophically about the nature of life and the distinctions (and similarities) between plant and animal life.
The course also offers historical perspectives alongside new, modern research.
This course is taught at a beginner-friendly level with no prerequisites for enrollment. The content is made even more accessible by the fact that enrollment is completely free.
If you want to receive academic credit for the course, however, you will need to sit and pass an examination on campus for an extra charge.
In terms of structure, the course comprises seven video lectures complemented by texts to read and quizzes to consolidate your knowledge.
The program is designed to take seven weeks to complete when dedicating between 1 and 2 hours per week to the content.
The Understanding Plants course is led by the incredible Professor Daniel Chamovitz (Ph.D.), Dean of the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, and Director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences.
Chamovitz is teaching the course on behalf of Tel Aviv University, which is Isreal’s largest Higher Learning institution.
One of the benefits of Coursera as a platform is that it provides real, informative statistics about the outcomes of its courses for students.
The numbers associated with this course are very impressive. 25% of all students who have taken this course have reported a tangible career benefit as a result of what they have learned.
Moreover, 19% went on to embark on a new career, whereas 18% actually received a pay increase or promotion! So, if you choose to enroll in this course, you’ll be standing in good stead for future career development.
If the unique perspectives and career prospects of Understanding Plants – Part 1 piqued your interest, you might also (or alternatively) be interested in Understanding Plants – Part 2: Fundamentals of Plant Biology!
Understanding Plants – Part 2 is a more in-depth, biochemistry-focused follow-up to Part 1. In this course, Professor Chamovitz delivers a 4-lecture series on basic plant science.
Starting with an introduction to plant cell structure and progressing to whole plant structure, the course goes on to detail the process of photosynthesis and concludes with the controversial but highly relevant topic of genetic engineering in plants.
This course is the perfect learning experience for botanical beginners who are either looking for a continuation of what they learned in Part 1, or those who prefer a more traditional, purely scientific approach to botany.
Another potential reason why Part 2 of the Understanding Plants course might appeal to beginners to the field is that it’s very easy to fit around other commitments.
The whole course is designed to take just four weeks to complete, with all modules aside from the introduction requiring just 1 hour of commitment.
For those working this course around other studies or careers, the minimal time commitment is ideal.
And speaking of careers, the statistics for student progression after completing this course are even more encouraging than those for Part 1!
While only 11% reported receiving a promotion (fewer than for Part 1), an incredible 40% went on to start a new career, while 31% (almost a third!) noticed a tangible career benefit.
As with Part 1 of the course, however, Part 2 also requires payment and the completion of an on-campus exam for academic credit.
With that being said, enrollment is free, so you can access all the content and expand your personal knowledge free of charge.
ACS Distance Education is without question one of the best online learning institutions for post-secondary-level education.
ACS Distance Education is based in Australia and offers over 600 online courses in subjects ranging from horticulture to psychology.
The institution’s Botany I – Plant Physiology and Taxonomy BSC104 course is not only one of the best courses available through ACS Distance Education but also one of the best botany courses online worldwide.
At $325, the Plant Physiology and Taxonomy course is far from the cheapest option for learning about botany online.
However, it’s also by no means the most expensive, and what it may lack in affordability, it certainly makes up for in the depth and breadth of its content. Moreover, this course is available through a variety of payment plans with multiple learning options available.
You can choose to pay in 2 installments instead of 1, and you can even decide whether to take this course online (for a 5% discount) or via the ‘E-learning’ method (USB).
The course consists of 10 lessons and requires a total of 100 hours in time commitment. Therefore, students enrolling in this course should be prepared to dedicate a significant amount of time to the program.
This may seem daunting, but students who are ready to put in the work will gain an in-depth scientific understanding of all the most important botanical processes.
Beginning with an incredibly comprehensive introduction to taxonomic classification, the course covers the history of the classification system as well as families, hybrids, varieties, and botanical keys.
The program then covers cells and tissues, flowers and fruit, seeds, photosynthesis, respiration, and water.
There are experiments and observations involved in the course, so you get practical experience as well as theoretical knowledge.
Upon completion, you will be awarded a statement of attainment, so you can put your newfound knowledge and hard work to good use in terms of your future career!
Completing this course opens doors to undergraduate plant specialism as well as varied career prospects in horticulture, agriculture, or pharmaceutical science.
Finally, we’d like to suggest the Getting Started with Botany course via the RBGE (Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh) to any beginners to the science, hoping to further their understanding. If academic progression is your goal, this could be the ideal place for you to start.
This beginner-friendly course costs £80 to access for a period of 6 months. Because access is both paid and limited, students should be sure that they can complete the course content in the allotted time before enrolling.
If you feel up to the challenge, this course comprises nine modules and should take about 20 hours to complete. The material covers botanical classification, diversity, plant anatomy, reproduction, and other plant processes.
The modules are taught at a basic level that doesn’t require any pre-existing knowledge of the subject. However, the knowledge students will glean from this course provides an excellent foundation for further study, including some of the RBGE’s more advanced courses.
One of the best things about the Getting Started With Botany course is that it has a focus on practical learning.
This is great for all the kinesthetic learners out there, as well as those thinking about going into a practical career in botany – agriculture or experimental research, for example.
A statement of participation is available on completion of a final quiz at the end of the course.
All of these courses provide excellent foundational and, in some cases, detailed knowledge on the subject of botany. However, it’s important to tailor your choice to your own needs so that you can get the most out of the experience.
Before you get too invested in any of the above courses’ content, you’ll need to find out whether there are any prerequisites to enrollment. This is so you can determine whether the course is taught at the appropriate level for you.
Most of the courses we’ve looked at in this article don’t have any prerequisites. Therefore, complete beginners from all walks of life and education levels can take most of the best botany courses online.
The only exceptions are those that require a GCSE-level education (or equivalent). This measure has been put in place to ensure maximum comprehension on a linguistic and scientific level.
Determining whether the content of a botany course is right for you is quite a personal process.
Often, it will be down to a gut feeling because you know your learning methods and capabilities instinctively. However, there are a couple of factors that you can look at specifically to see if the content will work for you.
First, you should consider whether the course has more of a theoretical or a practical focus. Because all of these courses are available online, they do all have more theoretical material than practical activities.
However, while some programs focus entirely on delivering informational content, others provide the opportunity to conduct your own experiments and observations.
If you’re a kinesthetic learner, meaning you learn better by completing physical tasks and moving your body, a course with practical elements is likely to work best for you.
On the other hand, if you learn more effectively through auditory, visual, or verbal stimulation, you might prefer a course taught exclusively via the traditional lecture method, perhaps with supplementary reading and assessment.
Please be aware that courses that involve practical experiments will require you to purchase your own materials and tools (e.g., seeds), which may add to the overall cost.
Another aspect of the course content that we felt was important enough to warrant its own section is the level of commitment that the content and structure demands.
The courses we’ve reviewed in this article vary significantly in terms of time commitment. Certain courses can be completed in under 10 hours in total, whereas others require a massive 100-hour commitment.
Most of the time, you can complete the content at your own pace, although there will usually be a suggested program of weekly study.
You will need to weigh up the other things you have going on in your life and determine how much time you have to dedicate to a botany course before you enroll.
It’s important to be realistic and honest with yourself at this stage, especially if you’re considering a paid course with limited-time access.
If you’re looking to get officially certified at the end of your botany course, you will also need to consider the terms surrounding this certification. For example, you may need to sit an on-campus exam at another location or pay a certification fee.
Before you fully commit to your decision, cast your mind into the future for a moment. Where do you see yourself in a few years, and will this course help you to get there?
Of course, learning for your own personal development or interest is a wonderful thing, but in this day and age, many students and professionals turn to online learning for a boost in academic and/or career progression.
Botany is involved in some of the most critical industries and sciences of the modern age, from agriculture to medicine. Therefore, the career prospects that open up through botanical knowledge and qualifications are plentiful.
Some of the botany courses on our list provide a foundation for more advanced courses. Others may help with career advancement, as indicated by course statistics.
Whether there’s a specialization course you eventually want to enroll in or a particular job in horticulture, environmental science, or pharmaceuticals you want to go into, one of the courses listed in this article is sure to help you on your way.
Jacob has a background in finance and engineering. Outside of his day job, he is a lifelong learner, who enjoys reading, taking online courses, and writing about what he's learned.
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