HNC Animal Care

HNC Animal Care

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The HNC in Animal Care (SCQF level 7) develops knowledge and skills in areas such as Animal Health and Welfare, Behaviour, and Anatomy and Physiology.

This qualification covers areas such as Animal Behaviour, Animal Welfare, Companion Animal Anatomy and Physiology, Small Animal Health and Disease, Small Animal Nutrition and Small Animal Husbandry.

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

Alternative assessment guidance 2021-22

For guidance on which approach suits your current circumstances please use the HNVQ assessment decision tree.

Enhanced HNC Animal Care alternative assessment approaches (194 KB)

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 Animal Care 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 2 or 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.

Progression and employment

Learners who achieve an HNC Animal Care can progress to the HND in Animal Care (GP8H 16).

HNCs and HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HNC in Animal Care allows direct entry into the second year of most degree programmes, and the HND in Animal Care 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 SVQ in Animal Care at SCQF Level 6.


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.

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

Where can you take this course?

Qualification content and delivery tools


Qualification Structure

HNC Animal Care

Group Award code: GP8G 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC Animal Care at SCQF level 7 consists of 10 mandatory Units (80 SCQF credit points) and 2 optional Units (16 SCQF credit points).

Group Award Specification

Qualification Verification Summary Reports


This group award has been replaced and has entered into its lapsing period.

The finishing date for this qualification is 31/07/2022

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 arrangement document will remain until the qualification reaches its finish date at which point it will be removed from SQA website and archived.

-No new centres may be approved to offer the group award.