HNC/HND Computer Arts and Design

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

The main aims of the HNC/D in Computer Arts and Design are to underpin specific knowledge for the candidate studying art and design in a digital context. The course has four main areas of enquiry: 2D design, 3D design, fine art and time-based art.

Students are encouraged to understand the interdisciplinary connections between taught subject areas. They are expected to develop a critical and evaluative approach to investigative and research skills. They will gain knowledge on competing views and theories, allowing them to make informed choices for specialisation, if desired.

This qualification covers areas such as creative industries, digital imaging, art and design context, research methods, scriptwriting, and computer arts and design: theory and practice.

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

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 HNC and HND provide progression routes to further study (see Progression).

The HNC and HND Computer Arts and Design are suitable for a wide range of candidates including:

  • school leavers interested in pursuing a career within this field
  • 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. Candidates would be expected to have a strong interest in computer-based arts and design and art and design practices and associated skills. This would be demonstrated in a portfolio of work

Examples of formal entry qualifications include:

  • Ability at SCQF 6 (Higher) level in Art & Design and English (or language-based subjects such as Economics, History or Modern Studies, etc. would be acceptable), along with three National 5 passes or equivalent.
  • An appropriate programme of study for National Qualifications in Computer Arts and Design, Graphics, Illustration, Digital Design, Digital Media, Portfolio Preparation or other Visual Communication areas.
  • Relevant work experience.

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

Progression and employment

HNCs and HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HND in Computer Arts and Design allows articulation into degrees courses such as BA (Hons) Design: Computer Arts and Designs, BA (Hons) Digital Art, BA (Hons) Computer Animation and Multimedia and BA (Hons) Interior and Environmental Design.

There are also opportunities for employment in areas such as graphic design, web design, animation, and as practising artists.

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

Centres without devolved authority must 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 Systems and Qualification Approval Guide.

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.

HNC Computer Arts and Design

Group Award code: GM4F 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC Computer Arts and Design at SCQF level 7 consists of six mandatory units (48 SCQF credit points); an optional mandatory section where two or three units must be taken (16 or 24 SCQF credit points); and two to four optional units (24 to 32 SCQF credit points).

HND Computer Arts and Design

Group Award code: GM4G 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND Computer Arts and Design at SCQF level 8 consists of 10 mandatory units (96 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional units (144 SCQF points).