NPA PC Passport

NPA PC Passport

National Progression Awards (NPAs) assess a defined set of skills and knowledge in specialist vocational areas, linked to National Occupational Standards.

The aim of this new version of the NPA in PC Passport at SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6 is to provide knowledge and skills in using contemporary application packages such as word processing, spreadsheets and presentation software in a collaborative, cloud-based environment. It seeks to deliver up-to-date skills in using a range of popular software, such as Office 365, to prepare learners for employment or further studies or to improve their productivity skills.

The new award has several improvements over the existing award.

  • The revised PC Passport has a simpler structure than the previous version and provides a clearer pathway for learners to progress through the levels.
  • There are dedicated units on word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations.
  • The revised award is hierarchical so centres can mix and match units across levels.
  • The revised award is linked to Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification.
  • It embraces the latest developments in productivity software such as collaborative features and cloud storage. All Scottish schools and colleges have free access to Office 365 (via Glow) so PC Passport, Glow, Office 365 and MOS make an inexpensive and attractive learning path.
  • The revised PC Passport will be embedded into the new Modern Apprenticeships in Digital Application Specialist qualifications as mandatory components. Students who achieve the MA qualifications may also be certificated for the NPA PC Passport.

Background of changes to PC Passport

PC Passport was originally introduced in 2004 and focused on computer application packages, specifically: word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software and databases. PC Passport rapidly became very popular in Scottish schools and colleges.

PC Passport was revised in 2007 and the focus on separate applications was changed to more generic information and digital literacy skills. This change coincided with the beginning of a decline in popularity of learning ICT skills, with the prevailing attitude being that people already possessed these skills.

During research for this latest revision, it became apparent that there was a clear demand for units that covered separate packages that were delivered in the context of modern, collaborative, software such as Office 365. There was unanimous support for a return to the hierarchical structure, which was present in 2004 but not 2007, and support for updating the content to include cloud-based applications.

The qualification is available through schools, colleges and training providers.

Why deliver this qualification

The National Progression Award in PC Passport at SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6 is composed of three units at each level and these are part of a hierarchical structure that provides a clear pathway for learners to progress through the awards.

As the award is hierarchical, units may be mixed across levels while still permitting the learner to gain a group award, which will be awarded at the level of the lowest unit passed. For example, a learner who passed Web Apps: Word Processing at SCQF level 4, Web Apps: Spreadsheets at level 5 and Web Apps: Presentations at level 6 would achieve the group award at SCQF level 4.

E-assessment supports flexibility and saves time and other resources. For example, assessment is on-demand using pre-verified questions and they can be accessed 24/7. In addition, marking is instantaneous and there is instant feedback for formative questions.

This NPA provides opportunities to develop:

  • Core Skills (signposted)
  • transferable skills
  • employability skills

The NPA could be offered in one of the following modes:

  • full-time (eg as a fast-track into full a NC or HN programme)
  • part-time (eg day-release)
  • open and distance learning
  • infill into existing classes
  • evening provision

Who does this qualification suit

The qualification is suitable for a wide range of learners:

  • S3 to S6 school pupils who may undertake the qualification as a broadening of the Computing Science curriculum
  • students at colleges who will be using the NPAs within full or part-time college programmes such as part of a NC in Computing with Digital Media
  •  adults returning to education with an interest in developing fundamental skills relevant to accessing internet-based resources effectively and efficiently
  • learners lacking in technology skills wishing to enter the workplace
  • employees wishing to improve their software skills in using application packages


Entry to the qualifications is at the discretion of the centre.  The following information on prior knowledge, skills, experience or qualifications that provide suitable preparation, has been provided by the Qualification Development Team as guidance only.

Learners would benefit from having attained the skills, knowledge and understanding required by one or more of the following or equivalent qualifications and/or experience:

  • the PC Passport award at the lower level (this applies to SCQF levels 5 and 6)
  • specific unit passes in relevant areas
  • digital literacy qualifications at the same level as the award


Given that this is a suite of awards, the simplest progression is from level to level. Learners who complete an award at one level may progress to the next. So, for example, learners who complete PC Passport at SCQF level 4 may progress to PC Passport at level 5. It is anticipated that many learners will do this.

Learners may also undertake this suite of awards in a multi-level manner. Learners may mix units across levels and gain the group award at the level of the lowest unit. For example, a learner who passes Presentations at SCQF level 6, Spreadsheets at level 5 and Word Processing at level 4, would gain the group award at SCQF level 4.

In addition to progression within the hierarchy, learners may progress to external qualifications, for example computing-related National Certificates.

The progression through SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6 is accomplished by embedding increasing:

  • complexity of content, eg from introductory to complex features and functions of applications
  • levels of opportunity to develop cognitive skills by, eg, developing problem-solving and evaluative skills
  • levels of opportunities to develop practical skills, eg from the production of simple documents to the completion of complex projects in a collaborative context

The qualifications will enable learners to develop a range of fundamental IT-based knowledge and skills. That knowledge and those skills are directly relevant to the world of business and employment and, as such, are important elements in the portfolio of skills and knowledge which a learner takes to the job market.


The qualifications are auto-approved to all Scottish schools and colleges so there will be no need to seek approval.

Other types of centres will need 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

E-assessment may be appropriate for some assessments in this Unit. By e-assessment we mean assessment which is supported by information and communication technology (ICT), such as e-testing or the use of e-portfolios or social software. Centres which wish to use e-assessment must ensure that the national standard is applied to all learner evidence and that conditions of assessment, as specified in the evidence requirements, are met, regardless of the mode of gathering evidence. The most up-to-date guidance on the use of e-assessment to support SQA's qualifications is available at:

The knowledge and understanding of all the units can be assessed through SOLAR at If your centre is not already on SOLAR you can complete the form on the SOLAR website and get immediate access. The SOLAR website contains training materials and answers to common questions. If you would like to know more, contact the SOLAR team on

If evidence is produced by means of an e-portfolio, learners are required to collate a portfolio of evidence which may take a variety of digital forms, eg text, graphics, web pages, video clips, audio clips. This may be stored in an appropriate online platform.

Assessment support packs will be produced and published on the SQA secure site, one for each of the nine units in the award. The support packs will provide detailed assessment guidelines and advice, as well as exemplars of valid evidence.

The sequencing of units and the delivery of the award is at the discretion of individual centres.


Qualification content and delivery tools

Qualification structure

Group award specification (455 KB)

NPA in PC Passport at SCQF level 4 (18 SCQF credit points)
Group award code: GL31 44

NPA in PC Passport at SCQF level 5 (18 SCQF credit points)
Group award code: GL32 45

NPA in PC Passport at SCQF level 6 (18 SCQF credit points)
Group award code: GL33 46

The NPAs in PC Passport at SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6 consist of three mandatory Units (18 SCQF credit points). There are no optional units.


These workbooks contain material for SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6, taking an integrated approach to learning and teaching. Additional supplementary materials will be added here soon containing worked examples and sample answers.

Supplementary Learning and Teaching resources (SCQF levels 4, 5 & 6)


Qualification content and delivery tools

Qualification structure

These group awards will enter into their lapsing period on 31/01/2017 and have been replaced.

The finishing date for these qualifications is 31/01/2020.

NPA in PC Passport: Beginner at SCQF level 4, Intermediate at SCQF level 5, Advanced at SCQF level 6 (126 KB)

Group Award Codes: G8H7 44, G8H9 45 and G8HA 46


A selection of Factsheets have been created for National Certificates and National Progression Awards (NPAs) within the Computing portfolio. The purpose of these factsheets is for centres to customise with their own Centre Logo/Details and circulate to candidates/potential candidates undertaking the awards.