HND Veterinary Nursing

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

The HND in Veterinary Nursing (SCQF level 8) builds on the knowledge and skills of the HNC Animal Nursing and also covers theatre and surgical practice, anaesthesia and first aid. In addition, the HND provides the knowledge, understanding and skills to enable learners to be registered by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) as professional veterinary nurses. The HND also builds in a work placement within a veterinary practice, allowing candidates to develop their skills in a real working environment.

This qualification is available through colleges. Typically, an HND takes two years 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.

The HND fully meets the requirements for RCVS registration as a veterinary nurse without the need to undertake separate RCVS examinations.

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

The HND Veterinary 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/D 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

HNCs and HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, 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 (490 KB).

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 HND in Veterinary Nursing contains three Graded Units, one from the HNC and an additional two in the HND. Graded Units 1 and 3 are both projects, a practical assignment and an investigation respectively, which will allow candidates to demonstrate and apply the skills and knowledge they have developed. Graded Unit 2, which is normally undertaken at the end of the second year of study, consists of a traditional closed-book exam in addition to a series of practical Veterinary Nursing tests.

HND Veterinary Nursing

Group Award code: GE97 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND Veterinary Nursing at SCQF level 8 consists of 29 mandatory Units (232 SCQF credit points) with a choice of an optional Unit (8 SCQF points).

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