How Our Qualifications Work

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework

You need to know a bit more about how the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) works to understand SQA's qualifications.

LOGO: SCQF Logo.

Along with some of our partners, such as Universities Scotland, we have developed and introduced the SCQF. The SCQF is a way of comparing and understanding Scottish qualifications, including ours. It does this by giving qualifications a level and credit points. These tell you how difficult the learning for a qualification is, and how long it takes to achieve the qualification.

The job of the SCQF is to make it easier for everyone in Scotland to understand the range of Scottish qualifications and how they relate to each other. This, in turn, makes progression and transfer between qualifications easier.

The level of a qualification shows how difficult it is. There are 12 levels in the SCQF, level 1 being the least difficult and level 12 the most difficult

The number of SCQF credit points shows how much learning has to be done to achieve the qualification. One SCQF credit point equals about 10 hours of learning (including assessment), so a candidate achieving a qualification with 24 SCQF credit points will have done approximately 240 hours of learning.

All of our qualifications are in the SCQF. Levels and credit points are shown on the certificates we issue to candidates.

Levels in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework

SCQF
level

SQA National Units,
Courses and Group Awards

Higher Education

SVQs*

SCQF
level

12

 

Doctorate

 

12

11

 

Masters

SVQ 5

11

10

 

Honours degree
Graduate Diploma

 

10

9

 

Ordinary degree
Graduate Certificate

 

9

8

 

Higher National Diploma
Diploma in Higher Education

SVQ 4

8

7

Advanced Higher
Certificate in Higher Education

Higher National Certificate
Certificate in Higher Education

 

7

6

Higher

 

SVQ 3

6

5

Intermediate 2
Credit Standard Grade

 

SVQ 2

5

4

Intermediate 1
General Standard Grade

 

SVQ 1

4

3

Access 3
Foundation Standard Grade

 

 

3

2

Access 2

 

 

2

1

Access 1

 

 

1

Core Skills

Core Skills are an essential part of many of our qualifications.

Core Skills are five skills which everybody needs, no matter their walk of life, and which employers look for in potential employees. The Core Skills are:

Everybody who achieves SQA qualifications automatically gets a Core Skills Profile - a listing of the Core Skills they've achieved. This appears on the profile page of the Scottish Qualifications Certificate.

Core Skills can be achieved in many different ways:

Core Skills in National Courses

For candidates doing National Courses, many Core Skills are embedded in National Units. This means that, for the most part, there is no need for Core Skills to be taught separately - they can be gained in the course of achieving the Units, Courses and Group Awards.

There are also dedicated Core Skills Units which can be taken to make up for any shortfall in Core Skills achievement. These are available at SCQF levels 2 to 6.

Core Skills in SVQs

Core Skills are also a component of most SVQs. They are particularly important where the SVQs are used as part of a government sponsored skills scheme such as Modern Apprenticeships.

There are also dedicated Workplace-Assessed Core Skills Units for those Group Awards and training schemes which require them.

Core Skills in NCs, HNCs and HNDs

In National Certificates, Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas, all five Core Skills will normally be developed. Core Skills can be 'embedded' in Units - in much the same way as they are in National Units. They can be achieved by doing dedicated Core Skills Units which are specifically designed to assess the Core Skill. Or they can be 'signposted', which means that there are opportunities to develop the Core Skills in an HNC or HND but that they aren't formally assessed.

Core Skills that are embedded or have been achieved through dedicated Core Skills Units will appear on the candidate's Scottish Qualifications Certificate. Signposted Core Skills will be achieved without appearing on the certificate.

Certificates

We issue two types of certificate: