Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does distance learning mean and involve?

Students work and practise on their own on our set assignments, then the work is sent to our experienced tutors who assess, mark and critique the work, offering professional advice and feedback. No forehand tuition is undertaken on the course but you will receive useful text books in the Course materials and there are helpful demonstration videos available on the student area of the website. There are also practical demonstrations at the in-person Introductory meeting and seminar. 

  • How will I learn?

Each assignment is expected to reach the designated tutor by a due date.  Each subject is carefully chosen to improve the student’s ability in all areas of botanical art, illustration and design.  Marks are awarded for each assignment as an indication of the student’s developing ability, and together with the accompanying critique or Tutors Assessment Mark Sheet (TAMS) enables each student to see which areas need to be improved upon.  The TAMS show 10 key areas of assessment and the Tutors will include advice, diagrams and colour notes as necessary.  Each module counts towards the total marks for the course.  Having completed the 12 assignments, students submit 3 final Diploma Portfolio pieces on specific subjects. Modular assessment of the 12 assignments, 3 Diploma pieces and an essay will determine the grade of the Diploma.

  • How many hours a week should be set aside for the course?

For the course, you will need to dedicate around 15 to 20 hours a week or more if you can, for assignment planning, research, sketching and painting. The course does require commitment and dedication to the genre of botanical art and illustration.

  • What if I am a beginner in watercolour?

Some experience with watercolour is expected for the course and it is recommended that beginners in watercolour undertake a foundational course before applying for the Diploma. You will be asked to submit a sample print of your work to assess your ability before acceptance.

  • What work will I need to produce?

Over 27 months, you will need to produce 12 set assignments, a final diploma portfolio of 3 works and an essay of 2500 words on a set chosen subject. The essay can be started at any time in the course.

  • What are the total costs of the course?

For those living in the UK £4,405
For those living in the EU £4,535
For those living in the rest of the world £4,680 – this is to allow for the different postage and courier rates.

It is advisable to research costs of postage of your assignments to your tutor, but the return of work is covered in the course fee. 

We do offer an instalment plan to help with the costs of the course*

The course fee includes the student subscription to the Society for the period until graduation. After that there will be a free year of Foundation membership because it is hoped that graduates will use that year to consolidate their learning from the Diploma and use it as an opportunity to consider how they might develop themselves further as an artist, and perhaps apply for Fellow membership of the Society.

*For those with a UK bank account, course fees can be paid by a deposit of about a third followed by 18 instalments payable monthly by standing order. For those outside the UK, the whole amount can be paid or an individual arrangement may be negotiated: usually, a deposit of about a third with less frequent instalments because of the higher bank charges.

  • What support is there for students?

Students may email ther specific tutors for advice on each assignment and telephone some of the tutors at designated times. 

There is a student area of this website which features demonstration videos, Powerpoint presentations, SBA magazines and talks.

  • Can I work in mixed media?

Unless clearly stated within an assignment, students are expected to choose from 3 mediums only: watercolours, coloured pencils or gouache. The medium cannot be changed after the course has started. There is the opportunity to work in some mixed media in assignment 10.

Students can also choose to work on vellum parchment in assignments 3 and 4 also for a small additional fee to cover the cost of the vellum which will be sent out with the materials.

  • Will I feel isolated on the course?

Early in the first year, an Introductory meeting is held and a seminar will take place during the second year, both in London. Each occasion provides an ideal opportunity to meet other students, tutors, ask questions and watch practical demonstrations.

A private student Facebook group will be available for interaction and to provide a student community.

  • Who are the tutors?

Tutors are all highly respected botanical artists and Fellows of the SBA with many years of experience in a variety of fields ranging from teaching, illustration, botany and commercial design. A list of tutor CV’s is available on request.

  • What to do if English is not my first language?

To date, we have not run into any issues regarding this and we have cohorts from all around the world, from every continent. You may find that a good quality translation app would be helpful and always remember to contact tutors for clarification on assignments.

For the written essay assignment, appropriate allowance will be made and it will be judged on content and understanding rather than grammar, if you are outside of the UK.

  • How do I apply?

You will need to complete an application form that is found in the PDF below and return it to the Course Director.

Applications for Course 22 are now open and they close at the end of September 2024. The course starts in January 2025. If considered a suitable candidate, the firm offer of a place will be made in writing during October 2024. After payment of an initial deposit, the course materials will be sent out to you.

An example of the full prospectus with a list of assignments, the application form, fees and payment arrangements is available to download as a PDF here

Any further questions? please do contact