HND Applied Biological Sciences

HND Applied Biological Sciences

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers.

The HND in Applied Biological Sciences at SCQF level 8 brings together plant and animal biology with biotechnology industrial practices. This qualification develops knowledge and skills that will prepare candidates for employment in research and industrial laboratories, — eg in the biotechnology, chemical, microbiological and pharmaceutical industries.

Learners will develop a range of contemporary vocational skills relating to the use, support and development of systems appropriate to employment at technician or professional level.

This qualification is available through colleges, training providers and some universities. Typically, an HND takes two years.

Why deliver this qualification

Higher National qualifications have been developed by SQA in partnership with colleges, universities and industry — so employers recognise that they provide sound evidence of ability.

The Unit-based structure supports flexibility. A Unit is typically 40 hours of timetabled learning.

There is a wide choice of optional Units which will enable centres to offer courses tailored to meet local needs.

This HN provides progression routes to further study.

Who does this qualification suit

The HND in Applied Biological Sciences is suitable for a wide range of candidates including:

  • school leavers
  • adult returners to education
  • individuals in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects
  • people who wish to start their own business


As with all SQA qualifications, entry is at the discretion of the centre. Examples of formal entry qualifications include:

  • relevant work experience
  • one science Higher and not fewer than three Standard Grade 3/Intermediate 2 passes, including Chemistry, Biology, Biotechnology or Human Biology and Mathematics
  • HNC Applied Sciences or other relevant HNC qualification
  • SVQ level 2 or 3 in a relevant science area
  • SWAP Access to Science. Learners should preferably possess some NQ Units at Higher level
  • Qualification comparable to the above, gained through other awarding bodies, such as GCSE, City & Guilds

Different combinations of relevant National Qualifications, vocational qualifications and equivalent qualifications from other awarding bodies may also be acceptable.

Candidate Information

The HND Applied Biological Sciences brings together both plant and animal biology as well as biotechnology industrial practices. It will prepare the candidate for employment in areas such as research and industrial laboratories; biotechnology, chemical, microbiological, pharmaceutical, and environmental industries. The candidate will also develop a range of contemporary vocational skills relating to the use, support and development of systems appropriate to employment at technician or professional level. Find out more.


An HND in Applied Biological Sciences can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HND in Applied Biological Sciences allows direct entry to most third year programmes.

Higher National qualifications also provide the knowledge and understanding required for related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs).

Typical job opportunities would include posts in: industrial research and development laboratories; quality assurance laboratories; college, university and research institute laboratories; and local authority laboratories.

The HND Applied Biological Sciences covers the knowledge and competences required for work in supervision and control of complex production processes in a wide range of industrial sectors, including: chemical; bio-medical; pharmaceutical; food processing; textiles; bio-technology; and soft drinks, brewing and distilling.


Centres with devolved authority for approval should use their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority will have to come forward for approval and should contact SQA’s Business Development Team for guidance.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA’s general requirements for technical/occupational competence as outlined in the Guide to Approval.

How to assess

Each individual Unit specification gives detailed information on the Evidence Requirements and approaches to assessment for each Unit.

Ongoing course assessment will apply.

Assessment/e-assessment support packs are available for this qualification.

Where can you take this course?

Qualification content and delivery tools

Group Award Specification

Qualification Structure

Group Award Code: G7WR 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

The HND in Applied Biological Sciences consists of 19 mandatory Units and 15 optional Units to select from at SCQF levels 6, 7 and 8.

For further information on the Units and structure of this qualification please refer to the Group Award Frameworks (93 KB).

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