HNC Marketing Communications/HND Advertising and PR

HNC Marketing Communications/HND Advertising and PR

Higher National qualifications provide recognition of practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The HNC in Marketing Communications (SCQF level 7) develops knowledge and skills in areas such as marketing theory and practice, advertising and PR, and using digital and social media (including analytics, search engine optimisation, etc). The HND in Advertising and PR (SCQF level 8) builds on the knowledge and skills of the HNC and also covers traditional and digital marketing research, traditional and digital campaign planning, media, copywriting and corporate ID.

These qualifications cover areas such as marketing principles and planning; advertising, PR, digital and social media; marketing research, website and content development; use of analytics and SEO; creative and digital aspects of advertising and PR.

The qualifications are available through colleges. 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. These include business-related subjects such as customer care, people and project management, sales, and financial accounting etc.

The qualifications provide progression routes to further study (see Progression).

Who does this qualification suit

The HNC in Marketing Communications and HND in Advertising and PR are 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:

  • Relevant National Qualifications or National Qualification Group Awards at SCQF level 5 or 6.
  • Any two National Qualifications at Higher level (preferably including Higher English) together with three National 5 passes.
  • Appropriate groupings of National Units, for example those focussing on marketing, market research, advertising, media studies or general business studies.
  • An SVQ at SCQF level 5 or above in a relevant area.
  • Different combinations of National Qualifications, Vocational Qualifications and equivalent qualifications from other awarding bodies in relevant areas.
  • For learners where English is not their first language, it is recommended that they possess English for Speakers of Other languages (ESOL) at SCQF level 5 or an overall score of 5.5 in IELTS.

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


Learners who achieve an HNC in Marketing Communications (GN5H 15) can progress to the HND in Advertising and PR (GN5G 16).

HNCs and HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. The HNC in Marketing Communications and HND in Advertising and PR can provide entry into the second and third year of degree programmes. Some university degree programmes require specific subjects to be included in the award ¿ for example economics, finance or management subjects. These HN qualifications provide a range of optional units to accommodate these requirements. Other universities will consider entry on an individual basis.

The unit options allow successful learners to prepare for a career in a number of related sectors, such as marketing, public relations (PR), sales administration; event management; customer service and advertising.

Higher National qualifications also provide the knowledge and understanding required for related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) ¿ for example, Diploma in Digital Marketing at SCQF levels 6 or 8, SVQs in Customer Care; Retail, Event Management etc.

Successful learners could also progress to qualifications from a range of professional bodies in this area, eg:

  • Professional PR Certificate (CIPR)
  • Certificate and/or Diploma and/or Digital Diploma in Professional Marketing (CIM)
  • Diploma in Digital Marketing (CAM)
  • Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM) qualifications


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

Centres without devolved authority must 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.

A wide range of interesting ongoing course assessments will apply, such as: presentations; projects; responses to case studies/clients' briefs; and production of campaign proposals and press conferences. 

Assessment/e-assessment support packs are available for these qualifications.

Where can you take this course?

Ushare open learning resources

Qualification content and delivery tools


Qualification Structure

HNC in Marketing Communications

HNC Marketing Communications GN5H 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC in Marketing Communication at SCQF level 7 consists of eight mandatory SQA credits (64 SCQF credit points) and four optional SQA credits (32 SCQF credit points).

HND in Advertising and PR

HND Advertising and PR GN5G 16 (21 KB) (30 SQA credits/240 SCQF credit points)

HND in Marketing at SCQF level 8 consists of 20 mandatory SQA credits (160 SCQF credit points) and 10 optional SQA credits (80 SCQF points).

Group Award Specification

Qualification Verification Summary Reports

CPD resources

Solar assessments

HX3V 34 - Digital Marketing Communications: Website Tools and Techniques

We have produced online assessments through SOLAR for the HN unit HX3V 34 - Digital Marketing Communications: Website Tools and Techniques which is mandatory within new HNC Marketing Communications award. These assessments are available now for centres. Further information and advice on these assessments can be found at link below:

If you are new to SOLAR and wish access to the system, or alternatively, you are already a SOLAR user and just need access to the subject, please visit the SOLAR website and complete the relevant sections.



These Group Awards have been replaced will lapse on 31/07/2019.

The finishing date for these qualifications are:

HNC Advertising and Public Relations Group Award Code: GC84 15  31/07/2022

HND Advertising and Public Relations Group Award Code: GC85 16 31/07/2023

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 centres should only enter candidates whom they expect to complete the Group Award during the defined lapsing period of 3 years (HNC) and 4 years (HND).