NPA in Science and Health at SCQF level 4

NPA in Science and Health at SCQF level 4

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

The NPA in Science and Health at SCQF level 4 develops knowledge and understanding of science in relation to human health and provides an entry level point for people who wish to pursue a career in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) sector. This is seen to be of particular importance given the existing and projected shortfall in suitably qualified individuals in these areas.

The NPA in Science and Health at SCQF level 4 allows learners to:

  • Develop knowledge and understanding of biology, chemistry, and physics
  • develop skills in good laboratory practice
  • develop an understanding of health and safety practices
  • develop an awareness of the Skill for Life of Health and Wellbeing
  • prepare candidates for progression to qualifications at SCQF level 5 in areas related to human health

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

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 Science and Health at SCQF level 4 allows clear progression and development routes to higher level education and to 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 Science and Health at SCQF level 4 could provide progression to:

  • NPA Practical Science at SCQF level 5
  • Skills for Work: Laboratory Science at SCQF level 5


Centres with devolved authority are eligible to seek approval through their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority will have to come forward for approval and should contact the Business Development Team for guidance in completing the combined CA1/SA1 form.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA's general requirements 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 Science and Health 

Group Award code:  GG36 44 (24 SCQF credit points)

The NPA in Science and Health at SCQF level 4 consists of six 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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