NPA Practical Science at SCQF level 5

NPA Practical Science at SCQF level 5

National Progression Awards (NPAs) assess a defined set of skills and knowledge in specialist vocational areas, linked to National Occupational Standards.

The NPA in Practical Science at SCQF level 5 develops techniques that are important in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) sector and is particularly important given the existing and projected shortfall in suitably qualified individuals in these areas.

The NPA in Practical Science at SCQF level 5:

  • develops knowledge and understanding of biology, chemistry and physics and develops skills in good laboratory practice
  • helps learners develop an understanding of science health and safety  and an awareness of the Essential Skill of Citizenship
  • prepares candidates for progression to extended qualifications at SCQF level 5 and above

This qualification is available for delivery by schools, colleges and training provider.s

Why deliver this qualification

NPAs are trusted because they are developed by practitioners from industry and are supported by the relevant sector skills council (SSC). Industry has recognised that the qualification fits the job.

This qualification offers current, fit for purpose, bite-sized chunks of learning that are straightforward for centres to adopt and for learners to study. New skills can be gained quickly and cost effectively.

The size of Units support flexibility — Units can slot into school timetables; and they are a more manageable size for employee training.

NPAs provide opportunities for partnership delivery that can provide benefits for partners and increase options for learners.

NPAs can add value and breadth to a CV for a learner by developing vocational skills.

  • The NPA in Practical Science at SCQF level 5 allows clear progression and development routes to higher level education and employment
  • This qualification provides opportunities to develop:
    • Core Skills (which underpin all National Certificates)
    • transferable skills
    • employability skills
  • The NPA could be offered in one of the following modes:
    • full-time (eg as a fast-track into full a NC or HN programme)
    • part-time (eg day-release)
    • open and distance learning
    • infill into existing classes
    • evening provision
  • The NPA provides an ideal foundation to the subject and, due to the involvement of practical skills, gives learners the opportunity to gain a basic but realistic experience of STEM and so allow informed choice for future study.

Who does this qualification suit

This NPA is suitable for:

  • learners who are at school or who may have just left school
  • mature candidates who may have been out of education for a long period of time
  • individuals who are currently in employment and wish to obtain a formal qualification
  • those who are looking to access HN programmes
  • learners who want to study at a pace and style that they determine
  • employees who want to develop their careers
  • individuals who are seeking national recognition of their achievements
  • employers who wish their employees to take part in short continuing professional development courses


Entry is at the discretion of the centre.


The NPA in Practical Science at SCQF level 5 could provide progression to:

  • NC Applied Science SCQF level 5
  • NPA Laboratory Science SCQF level 6


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

Assessment of this award will be a combination of practical and knowledge assessments under closed- and open-book assessment conditions. It is recommended that centres refer to the assessment and Evidence Requirements for each Unit.

The delivery of the award is at the individual centre’s discretion.

Qualification content and delivery tools


NPA in Practical Science

Group Award code: GG37 45 (24 SCQF credit points)

The NPA in Practical Science at SCQF level 5 consists of five mandatory Units (24 SCQF credit points).

For further information on the structure and Units for this qualification please refer to the Group Award Specification (582 KB).

Qualifications Support Team (QST) - Action Grids

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