General programme details and entry criteria

The Diploma programme recruits throughout the year with interviews taking place in the late summer/early autumn for the following mid-January start. The Diploma is open to anyone 18 years of age or over; there is no upper age limit, however the nature of stud work is very demanding and candidates will require a good level of physical fitness in order to complete the programme. The course finishes in June with a graduation celebration for students and their families to which many leading figures of the industry are also invited.

All successful students will receive a certificate and unique Diploma enamel badge. Significant prizes are awarded at the graduation event; including the Tim Dunlop Memorial Prize for the Top British Student, The Gerald Leigh Trust travel scholarship and The National Stud’s; Award of Merit, Most Improved and Best Practical student awards.

Syllabus overview

The Diploma covers all aspects of a busy Thoroughbred breeding season. Students have the opportunity to learn how the processes within a commercial stud are applied and receive an excellent theoretical grounding in the science and management techniques required to make a Thoroughbred stud a success. Diploma students work alongside the Stud’s staff during the breeding season and will complete daily work as a stud hand in order to achieve practical skills at an accepted industry standard. To achieve the practical competency involves routine yard work and handling of all types of breeding stock. Students are involved with all areas of stud work, including showing stock to clients, vet rounds, teasing, assisting at coverings and foalings. Students have contact with industry experts not only on the yards but also in small seminar groups discussing the business, bloodstock and management areas of the industry.

The Evening Lecture Programme is a compulsory element of the Diploma course and provides significant technical information for students and paying delegates attending from other local stud farms. The range of attendees promotes discussion at the lectures and provides an informal forum to compare experiences.

Offsite trips and visits are also part of the Diploma and give access to many other important studs and organisations.

Accommodation and Board

Diploma students are provided with accommodation and board onsite by the National Stud at Westbrook House. The accommodation is managed by members of the training department and fully caters Monday to Friday with reduced catering at weekends. Students can do assignment work either in their own study bedrooms or use the integrated library resources. Free Wi-Fi is provided throughout Westbrook House and there are many communal spaces for students to relax in at the end of their day.

Each student will need to provide a refundable accommodation deposit for the duration of their Diploma residence.

Qualifications gained

• National Stud’s Diploma in Stud Practice and Management
• Level 3 Certificate in Thoroughbred Stud Practice – accredited by 1st4Sport
• Level 3 Award in Transporting Horses on Short Journeys – accredited by 1st4Sport
• Basic Emergency First Aid
• Manual Handling Awareness

Fees and application process

The Diploma course is currently FREE to all UK and EU students. Full accommodation and board fees are grant supported by the Wavertree Charitable Trust, students can apply for this grant funding once accepted on the course.

Every student is paid a training allowance in recognition of their practical work on the Stud, this is paid weekly by direct transfer to their bank accounts. Students can choose whether to register and be formally assessed for accredited qualifications.

Students will need to provide their own Personal Protective Equipment (skull cap, boots and gloves) but all branded elements of the uniform will be provided by the Stud.

Details on the Admissions Policy can be down loaded from the Policies Page

To apply please download the application form or if you need more information please contact us.

Employment opportunities

The Diploma graduates are held in high regard by the industry and by the time of graduation most, if not all graduates already have their next career step confirmed.

For more details please visit the Past Graduates page.


Do I need prior experience of a Thoroughbred stud season?
No, the range of prior equine experience across the group will vary, but at minimum you must be a competent horse handler, physically fit and committed to a career within the breeding industry.

What time off do Diploma students get?
Working hours are usually 7.30am to 4.30pm (with a morning and lunch break). At peak capacity in the season hours may extend. In addition, sitting up in the foaling unit on a rota basis is compulsory for all students, with time off in lieu. Additional opportunity to be involved with foaling mare checks, foal watch and evening seminars is available.

All students work every Saturday morning with the rest of the weekend off every other weekend.

Do I need academic qualifications to apply for the Diploma?
No, all assessments and assignments are flexible and encourage students to use the skills they already have. Any student who applies themselves to the work should achieve the Diploma certificate and other qualifications.

Can I bring my horse with me to the stud?
NO – we very strongly recommend that no student attempts to look after their own horse as well as doing the course. Late nights, early mornings and evening commitments restrict the amount of flexibility there is in the day so unless the horse is on full livery it is an impossible commitment.