HNC Equine Studies

Higher National Qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The HNC in Equine Studies (SCQF level 7) develops knowledge and skills in areas such as horse care and stable management.

This qualification covers areas such as equine nutrition, fitness, selection, anatomy and physiology, facility management and competition horse care.

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

This subject will not have alternative assessment guidance for session 2023-24. You should refer to the Group Award/Unit specifications for detailed delivery and assessment information. For general support on delivery and assessment see the HNVQ assessment guidance 2023-24.

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 provides progression routes to further study (see Progression).

The HNC in Equine Studies 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:

  • NPA in Horse Care at SCQF level 5/6
  • SVQ in Horse Care at SCQF level 5
  • PDA in Competition Horse Care at SCQF level 7
  • PDA in Equine Breeding at SCQF level 7
  • Relevant Higher, particularly English, Mathematics or Biology
  • Other relevant group awards
  • Experience of working in an equine environment

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 an HNC in Equine Studies can progress to the HND in Equine Studies.

HNCs and HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HNC in Equine Studies allows direct entry into the second year of most degree programmes, and the HND in Equine Studies allows direct entry to most third year programmes.

Higher National Qualifications also provide the knowledge and understanding required for related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). For example, the SVQ in Horse Care and Management at SCQF level 6.

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

Centres without devolved authority are required 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 Systems and Qualification Approval Guide.

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

HNC Equine Studies

Group award code: GP6F 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC Equine Studies at SCQF level 7 consists of 10 mandatory units (80 SCQF credit points) and 2 optional units (16 SCQF credit points).