PDA Laboratory Science SCQF level 7

Professional Development Awards (PDAs) extend or broaden professional or vocational skills and are linked to National Occupational Standards.

The PDA in Laboratory Science at SCQF level 7 provides learners with the competences required to carry out roles in research and industrial laboratories. The PDA will develop a range of contemporary vocational skills relating to the use, support and development of systems appropriate to employment at technician or professional level. Learners will also develop good technical, investigative and problem-solving skills.

This qualification is available through colleges.

The following optional guidance can be used to support delivery and assessment as an alternative to the approaches outlined in the Group Award / Unit specification.

Optional assessment guidance 2023-24

The PDA in Laboratory Science at SCQF level 7 has been developed in partnership with employers and industry, so it is suitable for the current sector.

It will help employers meet skills gaps and provide continuing professional development for staff. Learners will gain knowledge and skills needed for progression in the workplace.

It can also be offered to people who are in training and who wish to gain employment in the sector.

The unit-based structure aids timetable flexibility. Units are typically 40 hours of learning and they can be delivered on a full-time or part-time basis.

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

The target audience is those in work, or seeking employment, who require a specific skill set.


Entry is at the discretion of the centre. Learners do not need to have formal relevant qualifications to enter this PDA. However, good communication and problem-solving skills will be required.

The units in the PDA have been mapped against the National Occupational Standards for the SVQ 3 in Life Sciences and Related Industries.

Learners may have the opportunity of progressing to the HND in Applied Sciences, HND in Applied Biological Sciences, HND in Applied Chemical Sciences or the SVQ 3 in Life Sciences and Related Industries.

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 (510 KB). The specific delivery requirements are set out in the Group Award Specification (Arrangements Document).

Each individual unit specification gives detailed information on the Evidence Requirements and approaches to assessment for each unit.

Ongoing course assessment will apply.

Each unit is assessed separately.

Assessment support packs are available for this qualification.

Group Award code: GM3G 47 (64 SCQF credit points)


The PDA in Laboratory Science at SCQF level 7 consists of two mandatory units and six optional units.

This PDA is a mandatory component in the Level 3 Modern Apprenticeship in Life Science and Related Science Industries.

SQA also offers the following components of this Apprenticeship:

Competency qualifications

  • GE4C 23 SVQ 3 in Laboratory and Associated Technical Activities (Industrial Science)
  • GE4A SVQ 3 in Laboratory and Associated Technical Activities (Education Science)
  • GJ30 23 SVQ 3 in Life Sciences and Related Industries

Knowledge qualifications

  • G90N National Certificate in Applied Sciences
  • G9G6 National Progression Award in Laboratory Science
  • GK6E Higher National Certificate in Applied Sciences
  • G8WV 15 Higher National Certificate in Bioscience

Core skills units

Unit title SCQF
Core Skills: Communication F427 04
Core Skills: Numeracy F42B 04
Core Skills: Information and Communication Technology F42F 04
Core Skills: Problem Solving F42K 04
Core Skills: Working with Others F42P 04

Understanding Standards documents have been developed for the following units: 

  • Laboratory Skills for Science Industries
  • Checklists – HN Science units at SCQF level 6
  • Marking guidance for organic chemistry assessments

To access the Understanding Standards documents, please visit the Understanding Standards website. This is a password-protected area of the website and login details can be obtained from the SQA Co-ordinator in centres approved to deliver the qualifications.

Changes to understanding standards materials

Please note: Understanding Standards materials are regularly reviewed to ensure they remain up to date.