HNC/HND Photography

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The HNC in Photography (SCQF level 7) develops knowledge and skills in traditional image-making and digital imaging. The HND in Photography (SCQF level 8) builds on the knowledge and skills of the HNC and gives candidates an opportunity to gain advanced skills within a Photographic specialism.

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

This subject will not have alternative assessment guidance for session 2023-24. You should refer to the Group Award/Unit specifications for detailed delivery and assessment information. For general support on delivery and assessment see the HNVQ assessment guidance 2023-24.

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).

The HNC and HND in Photography are suitable for a wide range of learners, 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:

  • SQA National Units and courses in appropriate subjects at Higher level
  • specialisms appropriate to the HNC/HND Photography, evidenced by appropriate qualifications

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

Progression and employment

Learners who achieve an HNC in Photography can progress to the HND in Photography (GG3D 16).

HNCs and HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HNC in Photography allows direct entry into the second year of most relevant degree programmes, and the HND in Photography allows direct entry to third year of most relevant programmes.

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

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.

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 most of the mandatory Units (Photography: Theory has none) in the HNC, and most of the mandatory Units in the HND, as well as for some optional Units in each qualification.

HNC in Photography

Group Award code: GG3C 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC in Photography at SCQF level 7 consists of 5 mandatory Units (56 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (40 SCQF credit points).

HND in Photography

Group Award code: GG3D 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND in Photography at SCQF level 8 consists of 10 mandatory Units (120 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (120 SCQF points).

For further information on the structure of these qualifications please refer to the Group Award Specification document.

Qualification Verification Summary Reports were formerly known as Internal Assessment Reports.