HND Industrial Biotechnology

HND Industrial Biotechnology

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. This qualification has been developed in partnership with the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) in response to demand from industry to address a skills gap within the biotechnology sector. 

The HND Industrial Biotechnology at SCQF level 8 is intended for those wishing to find employment in the industrial biotechnology industry or to progress to further (degree level) study. It is a wide-ranging course that develops relevant knowledge and skills in the theoretical and practical aspects of industrial biotechnology, and learners will be exposed to each of the main branches of industrial biotechnology: chemistry, biology and process engineering.  

This qualification will prepare learners for employment in research and/or industrial laboratories in the following sectors: chemicals, biofuels, environmental, pharmaceuticals, and food and agriculture production.

Learners will also develop a wide range of practical laboratory skills and good laboratory practice. 

This qualification is available through colleges. Typically, an HND takes two years to complete.

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 (see Progression). 

Who does this qualification suit

The HND Industrial Biotechnology is suitable for a wide range of learners who have an interest in a career in the biotechnology industry including:

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


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

  • a minimum of Chemistry or Biology at Grade C or above at Higher level, and one other Higher with appropriate supporting qualifications at National 5 level (or equivalent) in relevant science and mathematics subjects
  • NC Applied Sciences level 6
  • qualifications in appropriate science and mathematics programmes, such as Access programmes — learners should have gained some Units at Higher level in an appropriate science
  • suitable work experience gained in a science laboratory


HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HND Industrial Biotechnology (GK70 16) may allow direct entry into the second or third year of some degree programmes.

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

For example, the SVQs in Life Sciences and Related Industries.


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 the 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 Structure

Group Award code: GK70 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND Industrial Biotechnology at SCQF level 8 consists of 17 mandatory Units (176 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (64 SCQF points).

Group Award Specifications


Understanding Standards

Understanding Standards documents have been developed for the following Units:

Applied Sciences: Graded Unit 1 (H91W 34)

To access the Understanding Standards documents, please visit the Understanding Standards website.

Qualifications Support Team (QST) - Action Grids

Related Links

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