HNC/HND Fitness, Health and Exercise

HNC/HND Fitness, Health and Exercise

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

The HNC in Fitness, Health and Exercise (SCQF level 7) will give learners the key knowledge and practical skills required to pursue a career in the fitness, health and exercise industry. Learners will gain knowledge and expertise in a range of subjects including exercise programming, health screening, nutrition, first-aid for sport, exercise physiology, and anatomy.

The HND in Fitness, Health and Exercise (SCQF level 8) builds on the HNC and learners will advance their study of fitness, health and exercise activities and related areas. The HND covers a wide variety of subjects including personal instructing, strength management, and managing sports events.

The HNC and HND are available through colleges. Typically, an HNC takes one year to complete and an HND takes two years.

CIMSPA Recognition

The HNC and HND in Fitness, Health and Exercise provides the opportunity to gain membership with Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA). CIMSPA is the professional development body for the UK’s sport and physical activity sector, offering Scottish Colleges support with student and practitioner membership alongside partnership opportunities. CIMSPA has identified the standards for professional excellence and best practice in the sport and physical activity sector, members and partners are recognised for upholding and delivering these standards.

The SQA, sportscotland and CIMSPA have been working closely over the past few years to help support the development of the sport and physical activity sector through embedding CIMSPA Professional Standards into SQA qualification frameworks. CIMSPA are delighted to be supporting the SQA with this work and wider delivery across Scottish institutions which has supported the development of a CIMSPA partnership and membership offer specifically for Scottish Colleges.  CIMSPA recognition can be obtained through the following units:

  • Plan, Teach and Evaluate Gym Based Exercise sessions H4TK 34
  • Deliver Personal Training Sessions H1S4 34

Further details can be found in the Unit specifications and Assessment Support Packs for each of the above.

Alternative assessment guidance 2021-22

For guidance on which approach suits your current circumstances please use the HNVQ assessment decision tree

Enhanced HNC/HND Fitness, Health and Exercise alternative assessment approaches (533 KB)

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 HNC and HND Fitness, Health and Exercise 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
  • people who wish to start their own business

The qualifications suit people who are interested in a career in the leisure fitness industries, eg as a personal trainer, gym instructor, exercise teacher etc.


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

  • Highers: minimum of two in academic subjects, preferably in a relevant subject
  • NQ Units/SGAs: at SCQF level 6 in appropriate subject area (
  • GCE 'A' Levels in appropriate subjects
  • S/NVQ / S/NVRQs at Level 2 in appropriate subjects
  • Occupationally relevant skills and experience

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


Learners who achieve an HNC Fitness, Health and Exercise can progress to the HND in Fitness, Health and Exercise (GH0F 16).

HNCs and HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HNC in Fitness, Health and Exercise allows direct entry into the second year of Sport and Exercise Science degree programmes, and the HND in Fitness, Health and Exercise allows direct entry to Sport and Exercise Science third year programmes.


Centres interested in delivering these qualifications 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

HNC Fitness, Health and Exercise

Group Award code: GH07 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC Fitness, Health and Exercise at SCQF level 7 consists of nine mandatory Units (80 SCQF credit points) and two SQA credits from optional Units (16 SCQF credit points).

HND Fitness, Health and Exercise

Group Award code: GH0F 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND Fitness, Health and Exercise at SCQF level 8 consists of 16 mandatory Units (176 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (64 SCQF points).

Group Award Specification

Qualification Verification Summary Reports