NPA in Laboratory Science at SCQF level 6

The National Progression Award (NPA) in Laboratory Science at SCQF level 6 introduces the key skills required to pursue a career as a laboratory technician across a range of scientific disciplines.

The NPA has been designed as both a vocational qualification to meet the workforce demands of the science industry, and as an entry route to higher level qualifications at Scottish colleges and universities.

The NPA prepares candidates for employment at technician or technologist level in research and industrial laboratories, or in the biotechnology, chemical, microbiological, pharmaceutical, and environmental industries.

This qualification is available in colleges.

Why deliver this qualification

The NPA in Laboratory Science can be offered as part of existing arrangements. It can be tailored to the needs of the candidate and the centre, and delivered flexibly in partnership with employers and individuals.

The NPA is nationally certificated, allowing the centre to offer a meaningful qualification. Candidates gain skills covering a broad range of sciences which may lead to further study.

Who does this qualification suit

This NPA offers the practical skills that can be used in the real world, and is suitable for a wide variety of learners, including:

  • school leavers
  • adult returners
  • graduates seeking ‘technical skills’
  • employed laboratory technicians/technologists as part of their professional development
  • modern apprentices


Access is at the discretion of the centre. However, it is recommended that candidates meet the following entry requirements:

  • at least three passes at SCQF level 5, with at least one in science (candidates who do not have Chemistry at SCQF level 5 should complete SCQF level 5 Chemistry bridging Units as an integral component of their Course)
  • Core Skills at SCQF level 5 for Numeracy, with the others at SCQF level 4 
  • any other equivalent qualifications


This NPA articulates directly to the PDA in Laboratory Science and the HNC in Applied Sciences. From here, candidates can progress to HND and degree level courses at Scottish colleges and universities.

This NPA could open up employment opportunities as a laboratory technician in the biotechnology, chemical, microbiological, pharmaceutical and environmental industries.


Centres with devolved authority are eligible to seek approval through their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority will have to come forward for approval and should contact the Business Development Team for guidance in completing the combined CA1/SA1 form.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA's general requirements as outlined in the guide to approval.

How to assess

Assessment will vary according to the demands of the particular Unit.

Assessment Exemplars, Assessment Support Packs (ASPs) and National Assessment Bank (NAB) materials are available to download, for three of the mandatory Units and a selection of the optional Units, from SQA’s secure website.

Centres can use e-assessment tools for assessment where appropriate. Many of the Units can also be supported by e-learning.

Qualification content and delivery tools

Qualification structure

Group Award Code: G9G6 46 (52 SCQF credit points)
SCQF level: 6

NPA in Laboratory Science at SCQF level 6 (153 KB)


The NPA consists of four mandatory Units and four optional Units. Candidates can choose options from one of two routes.

Mandatory Units

  • Quality and Health and Safety Systems in Science Industries — DF82 34
  • Fundamental Chemistry: An Introduction — DX29 33
  • Mathematics for Science — F3T8 11
  • Microbiological Techniques — D042 12


Qualifications Support Team (QST) - Action Grids

Qualifications Support Team (QST) - Action Grids