HNC Garden Design at SCQF level 7

HNC Garden Design at SCQF level 7

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

The HNC Garden Design at SCQF level 7 provides the education and training necessary to become a garden designer. It develops knowledge of plants and their uses and includes the practical skills required for the care and maintenance of plants. Learners will also develop an awareness and understanding of the design process and the knowledge and skills required to design, build, research, and manage gardens.

The HNC enables learners to become familiar with the main theoretical concepts and terminology of horticulture and to gain an outline knowledge of areas of specialism. Learners will be introduced to research processes and will develop an understanding of the social relevance of horticulture and landscape. They will also develop their abilities to solve problems, and to undertake analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

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.

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 in Garden Design 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:

  • appropriate groupings of National Units
  • an SVQ at Level 3 in a relevant area
  • relevant work experience

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

Candidate Information

HNC 3D Garden Design

The key aim of the HNC Garden Design is to develop the underpinning knowledge of plants and their uses, and the practical skills required in the care and maintenance of plants. The HNC also provides the education and training necessary to become a Garden Designer...Find out more


Learners who achieve an HNC Garden Design can progress to the HND in Garden Design or Landscape Management.

HNCs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HNC in Garden Design allows direct entry into the second year of some degree programmes.

Higher National qualifications also provide the knowledge and understanding required for related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). For example, SVQ Level 3 in Horticulture.

On successful completion of the HNC, candidates will have the basic generic knowledge and understanding and competences to be employable at the craft level of the industry.


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.

Ongoing course assessment will apply.

Assessment support packs are available for this qualification from SQA's secure website.

Where can you take this course?

Qualification Structure

HNC in Garden Design

Group Award code: GJ9K 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC in Garden Design at SCQF level 7 consists of 6 mandatory Units (56 SCQF credit points) and 18 optional Units (40 SCQF credit points).

For further information on the Units and structure of this qualification please refer to the Group Award Specification.

Group Award Specification (0.97 MB)