HND Biotechnology

HND Biotechnology

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

The HND in Biotechnology at SCQF level 8 will prepare candidates for employment at technician or professional level in research and industrial laboratories.

Learners develop a range of contemporary vocational skills relating to the use, support and development of biotechnological, chemical, therapeutics, diagnostics, agriculture, veterinary and environmental systems.

This qualification provides the student with a sound academic basis for progression to further studies in biotechnology-related disciplines.

This qualification is available through colleges, training providers and some universities. Typically, an HND takes two years.

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 in Biotechnology is suitable for a wide range of candidates including:

  • school leavers
  • 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. Examples of formal entry qualifications include:

  • an SVQ at Level 2 or 3 in a relevant area
  • relevant work experience
  • one science Higher and not fewer than three Standard Grade 3 passes, including Chemistry, Biology, Biotechnology or Human Biology and Mathematics.
  • National Qualification in an appropriate Science and Maths programme, such as Access to Science. Candidates should preferably possess some Units at Higher level
  • qualifications comparable to the above, gained through other awarding bodies, such as GCSE, City & Guilds, Edexcel

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 a HND in Biotechnology (G7YC 16) can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HND in Biotechnology allows direct entry to most third year programmes.

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

Typical job opportunities include posts in:

  • industrial research and development laboratories
  • quality assurance laboratories
  • college, university and research institute laboratories and local authority laboratories
  • supervision and control of production processes in a wide range of industrial sectors including: chemical; bio-medical; pharmaceutical; food processing; textiles; bio-technology; and soft drinks, brewing and distilling

The health care industry offers a wide range of technician posts including (following further training): perfusionist; phlebotomist; cytoscreener; immunology research technician; biotechnology research technician; forensic science technician.

What you'll learn?

The HND Biotechnology will prepare the  for employment in science areas such as research and industrial laboratories; biotechnology, chemical, microbiological, pharmaceutical, and environmental industries. You will also develop a range of contemporary vocational skills in the use, support and development of systems appropriate to employment at technician or professional level. You will also develop study and research, study, planning and analysis skills.


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

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

HND Applied Biological Sciences

Group Award code: GK6G 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND Applied Biological Sciences at SCQF level 8 consists of 14 mandatory Units (160 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (80 SCQF points).

Group Award Specification

Qualifications Support Team (QST) - Action Grids