Qualifications Explained

HNC students in the atrium at Riverside campus.

Qualifications Explained

When you browse our courses you’ll see that many have a qualification in the course title, eg Higher National Certificate (HNC), followed by a level from The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), eg Level 4.

The SCQF Interactive Framework helps make the relationships between qualifications and the level reached clearer for employers, universities and colleges.

The table below shows the qualifications we offer and where they fall on the framework. 






Higher education


BA (Hons)

Course paid for by the Student
Awards Agency for Scotland
(SAAS). Living support available
with a repayable Student Loan.




HND, HE Diploma



Further education



Supported by the college
through a non-repayable







About Our Qualifications and Courses

We're proud to offer a wide range of qualifications. Browse the list below to find the one that suits you best:


We offer a range of undergraduate degree programmes in association with specific universities. Degree programmes take four years to complete and usually start with an HND here at the college. The degree then continues into years three and four, still based at the college. Smaller class sizes and plenty of student support means more students are choosing to stay with us through to degree level.

Browse our courses.

Higher National Qualifications

A Higher National Diploma (HND) will take two years full-time. Successful completion may allow you direct entry to year three or four of a related degree programme at university.

A Higher National Certificate (HNC) will take one year to complete. On successful completion, it’s normal to go on to the second year of an HND, but some courses may also allow direct entry to year two of a related degree programme at university.

HNCs consist of a minimum of 12 subject units over the year, while HNDs have 15 per year. One subject unit is equivalent to approximately 40 hours of learning. HNCs and HNDs are designed to equip you with both practical skills and theoretical knowledge in your chosen subject. They are vocationally focused and are therefore geared towards specific careers.

Browse our courses.

National Qualifications

We offer a range of national qualifications, the most popular of which are:

  • National Qualifications (NQ) and National Certificates (NC) — these are first level courses which usually require one year of study. Upon completion, you can choose to progress to a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND).
  • Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) — these are employment-based qualifications that give you the necessary knowledge and skills to do a specific job. To undertake an SVQ, you must be employed or able to secure a work placement.
  • City & Guilds — these vocational and technical qualifications are industry-based and therefore valued by employers. You don’t need to be employed to undertake a City & Guilds course.

Most of these courses consist of 16 subject units and one guidance unit, with a subject unit equivalent to around 40 hours of learning.

Browse our courses.

Where Do My School Qualifications Fit In?

Over the years, the SCQF has been updated, so you may have different qualifications to the ones currently being offered. However, these older qualifications are still valid — and you can compare them with the current ones using this handy SCQF timeline.

Students from the Rest of the UK and Europe

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) offers suitable guidance for students from the rest of the UK, Ireland and Europe. For more information, please download the following leaflet:

International Students

The National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) is an official UK Government organisation responsible for providing advice and opinion from across the world.

NARIC offers information on vocational, academic and professional skills, international education and training systems, plus wide-ranging qualifications attained outside the UK. You can find out more here: