HNC Oral Health Care: Dental Nursing

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The HNC in Oral Health Care: Dental Nursing (SCQF level 7) develops knowledge and skills in areas such as infection prevention and control, and chairside support. This contributes to the eligibility requirements for registration as a dental care professional with the General Dental Council (GDC).

This qualification covers areas such as health and safety, basic life support, oral health assessment and treatment planning, and principles in the management of plaque-related diseases.

This qualification is available through colleges, training providers and some employers. Typically, an HNC takes one year to complete full time or two years part time.

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 tailored choice of optional units designed to allow learners to progress towards registration with the General Dental Council (GDC).

This HNC provides progression routes to further study (see Progression).

The HNC is suitable for a wide range of candidates including:

  • school leavers
  • adult returners to education
  • individuals who wish to seek a career in dental nursing


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

  • appropriate groupings of National units
  • any two National Qualifications at Higher together with three at National 5
  • an SVQ 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

Learners who achieve an HNC in Oral Health Care: Dental Nursing may progress to the HND in Dental Nursing, although access is contingent on registration with the General Dental Council (GDC).

Higher National qualifications also provide the knowledge and understanding required for related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). This HNC contains units from the SVQ 3 in Dental Nursing at SCQF level 7 which contribute to the dental nursing registerable qualifications.

Centres interested in offering this qualification 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. The specific delivery requirements are set out in the group award specification (arrangements document).


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.

HNC in Oral Health Care: Dental Nursing

Group award code: GL64 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

This HNC at SCQF level 7 consists of 11 mandatory units (86 SCQF credit points) and one optional unit (10 SCQF credit points).