HNC/HND Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control

HNC/HND Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control

Higher National qualifications in Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge which prepare candidates for employment in the oil and gas sector as Process Operations Technicians and Measurement and Control Technicians. They are relevant to both upstream petroleum process operations and to appropriate downstream employment areas.

The HNC in Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control at SCQF levels 7 develops knowledge and skills in areas such as:

  • the process and production operations involved in hydrocarbon resource exploitation
  • petroleum production and control technologies and design requirements
  • the range of products and processes used in the petroleum industry
  • the key issues within petroleum process technology, operations and control
  • the physical and chemical principles utilised within petroleum process operations
  • environmental issues

It also enables candidates to develop a ‘health and safety’ culture and contributes to the sustainable workforce development of the petroleum process industry through capacity building and assuring capability.

The HND in Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control at SCQF levels 8 builds on the knowledge and skills of the HNC and also allows candidates to develop transferable skills to levels demanded by employers, and for progression to higher education. The HND enhances a candidate’s employability by developing skills and competences relevant to the petroleum industry.

The technical aspects of the HND allow candidates to develop skills and knowledge of:

  • petroleum production systems and data measurement systems
  • topside production process techniques, operations and control technology
  • equipment and operations involved in oil and gas process and control
  • competences needed to comply with the UK oil and gas industry standards setting body requirements as well as the need to have internationally recognised professional qualifications and skills
  • stakeholder and societal involvement in environmental issues related to the petroleum industry

This qualification is available through colleges and training providers.

Typically, an HNC takes one year to complete and an HND takes two years.

Why deliver this qualification

Higher National qualifications have been developed by SQA in partnership with colleges, universities and industry. Therefore employers recognise that candidates who have achieved an HNC/HND have a sound level of competence and ability.

The wide choice of optional Units allows centres to offer courses tailored to meet individual needs. The HNC/HND Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control HN provides progression routes to higher education.

By offering these qualifications, centres are supporting the oil and gas sector by developing a knowledgeable, experienced and competent workforce. Centres will enable candidates to develop a range of employment skills related to the petroleum industries such as:

  • study and research skills within the petroleum operations environment
  • transferable skills, including Core Skills, to levels demanded by employers and for progression to further and/or higher education
  • effective team working skills
  • a range of contemporary vocational skills relating to the use, support and development of systems appropriate to employment at technician or professional level

Who does this qualification suit

The HNC/HND Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control are suitable for a wide range of candidates including:

  • school leavers wishing to pursue a career within the petroleum industry
  • existing employees wishing to gain or extend their qualifications — either by attending by block release or by distance/open learning
  • employees undertaking work-based vocational qualifications (VQs) who wish, or are required, to obtain relevant and appropriate underpinning knowledge
  • candidates wishing to move on to higher education in an appropriate discipline area


Whilst access to HNC Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control and HND Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control is fully inclusive, centres must use their discretion to ensure that there are no unnecessary barriers to candidate entry.

It is the responsibility of centres to ensure that candidates have the formal qualifications and/or work experience and enthusiasm for the vocational area that would give them a reasonable chance of successfully achieving the awards.

The recommended access criteria given below are not exhaustive but are intended to give guidance to centres. As with all SQA qualifications, entry is at the discretion of the centre.

Candidates for HNC Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control or the first year of HND Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control should have:

  • one National Course at SCQF level 6 in a relevant subject preferably Mathematics or Physics or Chemistry, plus four National Qualifications Units at SCQF level 5 or above (eg Standard Grades at Credit level or National Courses at Intermediate 2 grade C or above)
  • a programme of National Units in a suitable subject area (eg Engineering, Science at SCQF level 5 and 6)
  • qualifications from other awarding bodies provided the competences can be identified and matched to the above including S/NVQs in an appropriate occupational area

In addition, an appropriate combination of the above qualifications may be acceptable.

For candidates where English is not their first language, it is recommended that they possess English for Speakers of Other Languages at SCQF level 5.

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

Entry to HND

Those candidates who wish to progress to the second year of the HND and who are not in possession of Mathematics at SCQF level 6 on entry to the first year, should undertake one of the Mathematics Units at SCQF level 6 from HNC options available to prepare them for a mandatory Unit at SCQF 7 in the HND.

In order to achieve the HND, candidates must gain 30 SQA credits. Ideally full-time candidates should be encouraged to achieve 15 credits in each year of the award. Wider access should be provided to cater for the needs of those, for example, who have achieved the HNC at day release or evening classes or in other colleges. Candidates would therefore be expected to have a minimum of 12 credits on entry to Year 2 and these would include the HNC Petroleum Technology, Operations and Control mandatory Units.

Candidates who do not possess the formal entry qualifications suggested above may be considered for entry if they have relevant, current, appropriate work experience in petroleum operations or its related industries. Work experience used as evidence for entry should be current, and candidates may be asked to provide formal references.


Options within the structure of these qualifications allow flexibility for programmes to be devised in a manner to adapt candidate development to meet particular individual or company requirements for candidate specialisation and career progression in a number of production related roles within the oil and gas industry.

These awards are deemed to provide candidates with qualifications of direct relevance to the modern petroleum processing industry, consequently enhancing opportunities for career access and progression within this key industrial sector. They also provide a significant contribution to the development of a sustainable workforce for the petroleum industry.


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

Assessment for all Units within HNC and HND Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control will attempt to address the practical aspects of the Units, and assessments will reflect a ‘hands-on’ approach wherever possible. The overall strategy for assessment is that wherever possible, and where permissible, assessments will be integrated across Outcomes within Units, to reduce the overall amount of assessment load placed on candidates.

Assessment of these awards is continuous via Unit-level assessments, which may take a number of formats such as written and numerical tests, assignment exercises, practical laboratory exercises, hands-on practical simulation assignments or case studies. The overall grading of the course is achievement through one Graded Unit for the HNC which is a case study and a further Graded Unit for the HND which is a project assignment. Oil and gas process related topics for the Graded Unit assignments may be assigned on the basis of individual candidate interest or on subject areas nominated by a candidate’s sponsoring company.

Each individual Unit specification gives detailed information on the Evidence Requirements and approaches to assessment for each Unit.

Where can you take this course?

Qualification Structure

HNC in Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control at SCQF 7

Group Award code: G9K5 15 (64 SCQF credit points)

HND in Petroleum Process Technology, Operations and Control at SCQF 8

Group Award code: G9KG 16 (80 SCQF credit points)

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

Group Award Specification