HNC Built Environment

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

The HNC in Built Environment (SCQF level 7) develops knowledge and skills in areas such as building measurement and cost studies, environmental building science, building services, construction materials and specifications, as well as sustainability and modern methods of construction.

Candidates will gain contemporary vocational skills including study, research, analysis, planning and organisational skills. They will also learn to take responsibility for their own learning and develop abilities to be flexible and to work co-operatively with others.

This qualification is available through colleges, training providers and some universities. Typically, an HNC takes one year to complete and an HND takes two years.

This HNC will enable learners to achieve professional body recognition in particular, but not exclusively, from the Chartered Institute of Builders.

The following optional guidance can be used to support delivery and assessment as an alternative to the approaches outlined in the Group Award / Unit specification.

Optional 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. This qualification was developed in partnership with Chartered Institute of Builders.

The Unit-based structure supports flexibility. A Unit is typically 40 hours of timetabled learning.

There is a wide choice of optional Units which will enable centres to offer courses tailored to meet local needs.

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

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

  • school leavers
  • learners progressing from a lower level award in construction or a closely related discipline
  • adult returners to education
  • learners in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects
  • modern apprentices


As with all SQA qualifications, entry is at the discretion of the centre.

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

Progression and employment

Learners who achieve an HNC Built Environment can progress to the HND in Architectural Technology, Building Surveying , Construction Management, Quantity Surveying.

HNCs can provide progression to degree-level study. The HNC in Built Environment could provide direct entry into the second year of most Built Environment degree programmes.

Higher National qualifications also provide the knowledge and understanding required for related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). The HNC Built Environment provides a range of skills which support learning in the SVQ 3 and SVQ 4 Construction: Technical Modern Apprenticeship Frameworks.

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.

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.

Group Award code: GJ5P 15

HNC Built Environment at SCQF level 7 consists of 11 mandatory Units (88 SCQF credit points) and one optional Unit (8 SCQF credit points).

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