HNC/HND Visual Communication

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers and further education establishments.

The HNC in Visual Communication (SCQF level 7) provides an opportunity for learners to prepare themselves for a career within the creative industries, for example in areas such as graphic design, illustration, and new media. The qualification develops knowledge and skills in visual communication, through in-depth study of the design industry.

The HND in Visual Communication (SCQF level 8) builds on the knowledge and skills of the HNC. Typically, an HNC takes one year to complete and an HND takes two years.

This qualification is available through colleges.

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 in Visual Communication 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


As with all SQA qualifications, entry is at the discretion of the centre. Examples of formal entry qualifications include:

  • SQA National Units and Qualifications in relevant areas at Higher level
  • GCSE 'A' level in Art and Design-related subjects and other relevant GCE awards

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 in Visual Communication (GG3E 15) can progress to the HND in Visual Communication (GG3F 16).

HNCs and HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HNC in Visual Communication allows direct entry into the second year of most degree programmes, and the HND in Visual Communication allows direct entry to most third-year programmes.

Higher National qualifications also provide the knowledge and understanding required for entry to related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs).

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

Centres without devolved authority will have 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.

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 the mandatory Units in the HNC and most of the mandatory Units within the HND, as well as for some optional Units within each qualification.

HNC in Visual Communication

Group Award code: GG3E 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC in Visual Communication at SCQF level 7 consists of six mandatory Units (48 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (48 SCQF credit points).

HND in Visual Communication

Group Award code: GG3F 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND in Visual Communication at SCQF level 8 consists of 11 mandatory Units (88 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (152 SCQF points).

For further information on the structure and units of these qualifications please refer to the Group Award Specification.