PDA Career Information Advice and Guidance: Advanced Practice SCQF level 8

PDA Career Information Advice and Guidance: Advanced Practice SCQF level 8

Professional Development Awards (PDAs) extend or broaden professional or vocational skills and are linked to National Occupational Standards.

The PDA in Careers Information, Advice and Guidance: Advanced Practice at SCQF level 8 is an industry-specific qualification that will help employers meet skills gaps and provide continuing professional development for staff.

It develops specialist skills and knowledge in delivering career services and in helping customers and colleagues access information relevant to their enquiries. It also includes high-level transferable skills such as research, coaching, self-evaluation and self-development.

Experienced candidates with no formal qualification in this sector will be able to gain recognition for prior experience and learning.

This PDA in Careers Information, Advice and Guidance: Advanced Practice has been developed in partnership with employers and the sector, led by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) with support from the Scottish Government.

It is available in FE colleges and training providers with experience of working in this sector.

Why deliver this qualification

The PDA in Careers Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG): Advanced Practice is the third PDA in a suite of qualifications for the CIAG sector and is part of the HNC in Careers Information, Advice and Guidance Practice at SCQF level 7. 

The Unit-based structure allows maximum flexibility for centres. Units are typically 40 hours of learning.

This PDA has been designed to be delivered as a mix of work-based learning and taught course using classroom-based learning or blended learning. It can be delivered on a full-time or part-time basis.

Who does this qualification suit

This qualification is designed primarily for existing staff with some experience of working within a CIAG setting but who have no sector-specific qualification.
It also forms part of the optional section of the HNC in CIAG Practice.  

Entry to this qualification is at the discretion of the centre.

Candidates would benefit from having an understanding of the skills and knowledge utilised in the advice and guidance sector in general and CIAG in particular.

Candidates will require good communication skills and a good working knowledge of information and communication technology. These could be demonstrated by having Core Skills in Communication at SCQF level 5 and Working with Others at SCQF level 5 or equivalent.

Since this is an SCQF level 8 qualification, a candidate's potential ability to achieve the award may be demonstrated in a wide range of ways from previous achievement of Highers and HN Units to SVQs and PDAs. Please see the Group Award Specification for an additional list of relevant entry qualifications.


The Units in the PDA have been aligned with the National Occupational Standards for CIAG.

Successful candidates would have the opportunity of progressing to:

  • the HNC in Careers Information, Advice and Guidance Practice at SCQF level 7
  • other PDAs in related areas
  • SVQs in Advice and Guidance at Level 3 or Level 4
  • higher education (at the receiving centre's discretion)


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.

How to assess

Each individual Unit will be assessed separately and each specification provides detailed information on the Evidence Requirements and approaches to assessment.

Ongoing course assessment will apply and, given the vocational nature of the Units, it may be possible to integrate evidence across and within Units. The use of evidence gathered in real work situations is encouraged as the assessments should be designed to allow candidates to enhance their own practice. The use of case studies and reports may facilitate this.

Where can you take this course?

Qualification Structure

Group Award code: GJ3X 48


This Group Award comprises four mandatory SQA Unit credits — 32 SCQF credit points at SCQF level 8.

For further information on the Units and structure of this qualification please refer to the Group Award Specification document.

Group Award Specification

PDA in Career Information Advice and Guidance: Advanced Practice at SCQF level 8 GJ3X48 Group Award Specification document (464 KB)