HNC Social Services

HNC Social Services

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

The HNC in Social Services (SCQF level 7) will equip candidates to work effectively in a range of care settings with a variety of service users. Learners will gain an understanding of the values and principles of social care and will learn how to integrate those values with the necessary skills and knowledge. Areas covered include care in contemporary society, leadership, health wellbeing and safeguarding, lifespan development theoretical approaches, promoting health, safety and security in the work setting, developing your practice through reflection and learning, promoting effective communication, and care practice.

This qualification is available through colleges, training providers and partnership arrangements. Typically, an HNC takes one year to complete.

HNC Social Services has replaced HNC Social Care which has entered into its lapsing period. See lapsing section below for more information.

Why deliver this qualification

The HNC in Social Services at SCQF level 7 offers a variety of optional Units so learners can choose Units which reflect their job roles. Units can also be followed on a stand-alone basis to satisfy continuous professional development (CPD) requirements.

The qualification is designed to meet the needs of employers, hence the inclusion of National Occupational Standards (three mandatory SVQ Units).

The HNC can be delivered on a full-time, part-time, and partly open learning basis.

The Unit-based structure supports flexibility. A Unit is typically 40 hours of timetabled learning.

This HN provides progression routes to further study (see Progression). 

Who does this qualification suit

The HNC in Social Services at SCQF level 7 is suitable for people who work in any setting where care and support is being provided for individuals and groups. This can be residential or day-care settings, home care, community or youth justice projects, or mental health projects.

Learners who are employed would normally be in workplaces as described above. The HNC is also very suitable for people who want to learn about care and seek employment in this sector after achieving the award.


Access is at the discretion of each centre. However, learners should have an understanding that care values and communication skills are essential for good care delivery.

It is preferable, but not essential, that candidates have some experience of care work — but not necessarily paid employment.


The HNC Social Services may assist learners to articulate into second year of a range of BA degree programmes, or the planned PDA Residential Child Care at SCQF level 9.  Learners need 120 credits at level 7 in order to progress to level 8.

Higher National qualifications also provide the knowledge and understanding required for related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). For example, SVQ 3 Social Services and Healthcare and SVQ 3 Social Services (CYP).


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.

Assessment support packs are available for the mandatory HN Units in this qualification.

Where can you take this course?

Qualification content and delivery tools


Qualification Structure

Group Award code: GK89 15 (min 96 SCQF credit points)

HNC Social Services at SCQF level 7 consists of 8 mandatory Units (68 SCQF credit points), 1 mandatory optional Unit (8 SCQF credit points) and 3 optional Units (24 SCQF credit points).

Group Award Specification


Qualification Structure

The HNC Social Care G7ME 15 has been replaced and has entered into its lapsing period. 

The finishing date for this qualification is 01.08.2017

Centres should note that when a Group Award is entered into its lapsing period, the following will apply:

  • the Group Award will be deleted from the relevant catalogue
  • the Group Award Arrangements document will remain until the qualification reaches its finish date at which point it will be removed from SQA’s website and archived
  • no new centres may be approved to offer the Group Award
  • centres should only enter candidates whom they expect to complete the Group  Award during the defined lapsing period of 3 years (HNC) and 4 years (HND)

Group Award Specification

Title: HNC Social Care
Code: G7ME 15
Date: Version 08 (May 2015)
Download: HNC Social Care Arrangements Document (167 KB)

Assessment Exemplars

LOGO: Europe and Scotland.

Your centre's SQA Co-ordinator will have access to these HN assessment exemplars on SQA's website. Please approach them for copies.

Title: HN Social Care (Stress Management)
Unit Number: DH3Y 35
Code: CB2222
Edition: 1

Title: Social Care: Group Award Graded Unit 1 (HNC)
Unit Number: DH46 34
Code: CB2206
Edition: 1

Title: Social Care Theory for Practice
Unit Number: DH3K 34
Code: CB2207
Edition: 1

Title: Sociology for Social Care Practice
Unit Number: DH3N 34
Code: CB2213
Edition: 1

Title: Social Policy and Its Application to Social Services
Unit Number: DH3L 34
Code: CB2208
Edition: 1

Internal Assessment Reports

Internal Assessment Reports were formerly known as Senior Verifier Reports.


Group Award code: G7ME 15 (96 SCQF credit points)
SCQF level: 7

Route 1

HNC Social Care (Route 1) consists of eight mandatory Units (72 SCQF credit points) and three optional Units (24 SCQF credit points).

Mandatory Units

  • Social Care Theory for Practice - DH3K 34 (16 SCQF credit points)
  • Social Policy and its Application to Social Services Provision - DH3L 34
  • Psychology for Social Care Practice - DH3M 34
  • Sociology for Social Care Practice - DH3N 34
  • Social Care: Graded Unit 1 - F291 34
  • Promote Effective Communication for and about Individuals - DK4R 04 (SVQ Unit)
  • Promote, Monitor and Maintain Health, Safety and Security in the Working Environment - DK4K 04 (SVQ Unit)
  • Reflect on and Develop your Practice - DK57 04 (SVQ Unit)

Route 2

HNC Social Care (Route 2) consists of five mandatory Units (48 SCQF credit points), an SVQ group award (32 SCQF credit points) and two optional Units (16 SCQF credit points).

Mandatory Units

  • Social Care Theory for Practice - DH3K 34 (16 SCQF credit points)
  • Social Policy and its Application to Social Services Provision - DH3L 34
  • Psychology for Social Care Practice - DH3M 34
  • Sociology for Social Care Practice - DH3N 34
  • Social Care: Graded Unit 1 - F291 34

Open Learning Packs

Unit Downloads

Related links