HND Animal Care

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The HND in Animal Care (SCQF level 8) builds on the knowledge and skills of the HNC Animal Care and also covers breeding, genetics and research skills.

This qualification covers areas such as Animal Behaviour, Animal Welfare, Companion Animal Anatomy and Physiology, Companion Animal Handling and First Aid, Small Animal Nutrition, Land-based Research and Academic Skills, Small Animal Breeding, DNA and Genetics, Small Animal Husbandry, Animals in Society, Applied Companion Animal Behaviour, Small Animal Health and Disease, Small Animal Parasitology, and Animal Care Ethics.

This qualification is available through colleges and some universities. Typically, an HND takes two years to complete.

This subject will not have alternative assessment guidance for session 2023-24. You should refer to the Group Award/Unit specifications for detailed delivery and assessment information. For general support on delivery and assessment see the HNVQ assessment guidance 2023-24.

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).

The HNC and HND Animal Care 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:

  • National Certificate (NC) in Animal Care at SCQF Level 5
  • 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

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 some degree programmes, and the HND in Animal Care allows direct entry to some 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.

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.

HND Animal Care

Group Award code: GP8H 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND Animal Care at SCQF level 8 consists of 20 mandatory units (160 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional units (80 SCQF points).