HNC/HND Sports Coaching and Development

HNC/HND Sports Coaching and Development

The HNC in Sports Coaching and Development gives learners the knowledge and skills necessary to work as professionals within the sector.

The topics covered range from human anatomy, physiology and biomechanics to sports coaching, development and professional practice — including research skills.

This HNC includes an embedded, stand-alone, industry-recognised Professional Development Award in Sports Coaching at SCQF level 7 that is jointly certificated with sportscotland and the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA).

This qualification is available through colleges and some universities. Typically, an HNC takes one year to complete.

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 are opportunities to liaise with industry stakeholders and to offer internal cross-college projects.

Who does this qualification suit

The HNC Sports Coaching and Development is suitable for a wide range of learners 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.

Learners would benefit from having attained the skills, knowledge and understanding required by one or more of the following:

  • SVQ at SCQF level 6 in appropriate subjects
  • occupationally relevant skills and experience
  • some experience in sports coaching

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


Successful completion of the HNC may lead to career opportunities which include, but are not confined to: sports coaching and/or activity leadership, active school roles, sports development, disability sports development, fitness/gym staff, leisure centre staff, swimming pool staff, and health and fitness staff.

Employers may include: local authorities, leisure trusts, national/sports governing bodies (NGB/SGB), local sports organisations, and private clubs/hotels.

The practical nature of the course will equip learners for work within the promotion and development aspects of sports or sports coaching. Throughout the sports coaching and sports development mandatory units there is a strong emphasis on placement learning and developing the practical skills relevant to modern sports coaching and development.

The PDA is mapped to the sportscotland Effective Coaching Map. It is recognised by Community Leisure UK (Scotland) as a qualification that will meet their workforce needs and therefore represents a passport to employment.

The HNC in Sports Coaching and Development will articulate directly to the HND in Sports Coaching and Development which is due to be validated in spring 2020.

Additionally, local agreements exist with a number of universities to allow entry into year 2 (or 3 following the HND) of a variety of degree pathways for those who wish to develop their knowledge and skills.


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.

The embedded Professional Development Award in Sports Coaching at SCQF level 7 is available for delivery within further education colleges only.

Where can you take this course?

Qualification content and delivery tools


Qualification Structure

HNC Sports Coaching and Development

Group award code: GP7X15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC Sports Coaching and Development consists of seven mandatory units (96 SCQF credit points).

Group Award Specification

Qualification Verification Summary Reports


This group award has been replaced and will enter into its lapsing period on 31 July 2021.

HNC Coaching and Developing Sport GD5R 15

The finishing date for this qualification is 31 July 2023.

HND Coaching and Developing Sport GD7G 16 will also be replaced once the new HND is validated.

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 arrangements document will remain until the qualification reaches its finish date at which point it will be removed from SQA’s 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).

Group Award Specification

Title: HNC/HND Sports Coaching with Development of Sport 
Code: GD5R 15 and GD7G 16
Date: Version 07 (May 2020)

HNC/HND Sports Coaching with the Development of Sport Arrangements Document (578 KB) 

Monitoring Standards Reports