HNC/HND Civil Engineering

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

The HNCs in Construction Engineering, Structural and Civil Engineering and the HND in Civil Engineering are designed to equip the candidate with the knowledge, understanding and skills to allow them to gain employment in the construction, construction engineering, structural and civil engineering fields, or to progress to a higher education or professional body qualification.

The HNC in Civil Engineering (SCQF level 7) develops knowledge and skills in areas such as geotechnics, civil engineering contracts and project management, construction site surveying, and construction technology (substructure and structural mechanics).

The HND in Civil Engineering (SCQF level 8) builds on the knowledge and skills of the HNC and covers fluid mechanics and technology, computer applications for civil engineering, construction technical communication skills, health and safety in construction, reinforced concrete design and detailing, structural analysis, and structural steel design.

At both levels, candidates will gain contemporary vocational skills including study, research, analysis, planning and organisational skills. They will also learn to take responsibility for their own learning and the ability to be flexible and to work co-operatively with others.

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.

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

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. This qualification was developed in partnership with the Institution of Civil Engineers: ICE.

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).

The HNC programme is suitable for a wide range of learners including:

  • school leavers
  • learners progressing from a lower level award in Civil Engineering or a closely related discipline
  • adult returners to education
  • learners in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects

The HND programme is suitable for a wide range of learners including:

  • school leavers
  • learners progressing from an HNC in Civil Engineering or HNC Built
  • environment or a closely related discipline
  • adult returners to education
  • learners in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects


As with all SQA qualifications, entry is at the discretion of the centre.

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

Progression and employment

Learners who achieve an HNC Civil Engineering can progress to the HND in Civil Engineering.

Advanced entry to degree programmes is possible, though this depends on the university - some will admit HNC holders to the first year.

The HNC will also enable learners to achieve professional body recognition in particular, but not exclusively, from the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Some universities will admit HND holders to Year 2 or Year 3 of relevant degree programmes. Each institution has its own entry requirements, so learners should check before choosing their HND options.

There may also be opportunities to progress via a Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) accredited course with a view to achieving professional body recognition. There is more information at

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

  • HNC Civil Engineering supports the learning within SVQ 3 and SVQ 4 Construction: Technical Modern Apprenticeship Frameworks
  • HND Civil Engineering support learning in the SVQ 4 Construction: Technical Modern Apprenticeship Frameworks

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

Centres without devolved authority require 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.

Ongoing course assessment will apply.

Assessment/e-assessment support packs are available for this qualification.

HNC Civil Engineering

Group Award code: GJ5E 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC Civil Engineering at SCQF level 7 consists of 10 mandatory Units (72 SCQF credit points) and three optional Units (24 SCQF credit points).

HND Civil Engineering

Group Award code: GJ5K 16 (240 SCQF credit points)


HND Civil Engineering at SCQF level 8 consists of 24 mandatory Units (192 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (48 SCQF points).

For further information on the structures and units of these qualifications please refer to the Group Award Specification document.