HNC Animal Nursing

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The HNC in Animal Nursing (SCQF level 7) develops knowledge and skills in areas such as animal anatomy and physiology, client relations, infection control and nursing skills.

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

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.

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

The HNC Animal Nursing is 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. However, for candidates who wish to become registered veterinary nurses the RCVS has the following minimum entry requirements:

five Standard Grade passes at SCQF level 5, including Maths, English and a science

Other qualifications which may be suitable for entry to the HNC might include:

  • any three relevant National Courses at SCQF level 6 together with three Standard Grade passes at SCQF level 5, including Maths, English and a science
  • an SVQ at Level 3 (SCQF level 6/7) in a relevant area and evidence of Core Skills at SCQF level 5, or equivalent
  • a group of 15 or more National Units at SCQF levels 5 and 6 covering a range of science-related topics and Core Skills
  • combinations of relevant National Qualifications, vocational qualifications and equivalent qualifications from other awarding bodies.

Progression and employment

Learners who achieve an HNC Animal Nursing can progress to the HND in Veterinary Nursing (GE97 16).

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

Higher National qualifications also provide the knowledge and understanding required for related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs), for example the Level 3 SVQ in Animal Care.

Specific subject expertise is required to deliver this qualification which is detailed in the Group Award Specification (Arrangements Document). To gain approval for this qualification centres should complete and submit a Qualification Approval Application Form. The Business Development Team can provide guidance in completing this form.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA's general requirements 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 support packs are available for this qualification.

The HNC contains one practical assignment Graded Unit which will allow candidates to demonstrate and apply the skills and knowledge they have developed.

HNC Animal Nursing

Group Award code: GE94 15 (76 SCQF credit points)

HNC Animal Nursing at SCQF level 7 consists of 12 mandatory Units (76 SCQF credit points)

For further information on the Units and structure of this qualification please refer to the Group Award Specification (963 KB)