HND Applied Sciences

HND Applied Sciences

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

The HND in Applied Sciences at SCQF level 8 is a general science qualification intended for those wishing to find employment in the science industries or to progress to further (degree level) study. It is a wide-ranging course that develops knowledge and skills in the theoretical and practical aspects of biological, chemical and physical sciences. Learners will also develop a wide range of practical laboratory skills and good laboratory practice.

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

Why deliver this qualification

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.

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

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

Who does this qualification suit

The HND Applied Sciences is suitable for a wide range of learners 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. Examples of formal entry qualifications include:

  • a minimum of one science qualification at Grade C or above at Higher level, and one other Higher with appropriate supporting qualifications at National 5 level (or equivalent) in relevant science and mathematics subjects
  • NC Applied Sciences level 6
  • qualifications in appropriate science and mathematics programmes, such as Access programmes — learners should have gained some Units at Higher level in appropriate science
  • suitable work experience gained in a science laboratory


HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HND Applied Sciences (GK6F 16) may allow direct entry into the second or third year of some degree programmes.                      

Higher National qualifications may also provide the knowledge and understanding required for related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) — for example, the SVQs in Life Sciences and Related Industries.


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 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.

Where can you take this course?

Qualification content and delivery tools


Qualification Structure

HND Applied Sciences

Group Award code: GK6F 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND Applied Sciences at SCQF level 8 consists of 20/22 mandatory Units (160/176 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (80/64 SCQF points).


Group Award Specification


Understanding Standards

Understanding Standards documents have been developed for the following Units:

Applied Sciences: Graded Unit 1 (H91W 34)

To access the Understanding Standards documents, please visit the Understanding Standards website.

Qualifications Support Team (QST) - Action Grids




Qualification Structure

This Group Award has been replaced and has entered into its lapsing period.

The finishing date for this qualification is 31/07/2018.

Centres should note that when a Group Award is entered into its lapsing period, the following will apply:

  • The Group Award will be deleted from the relevant catalogue.
  • The Group Award Arrangements document will remain until the qualification reaches its finish date at which point it will be removed from SQA’s website and archived.
  • No new centres may be approved to offer the Group Award. Centres should only enter learners whom they expect to complete the Group Award during the defined lapsing period of 3 years (HND).

Group Award code: G86E 16 (240 SCQF credit points)
SCQF level: 8

The HND consists of 21 mandatory Units and a range of optional Units.

Mandatory Units

  • Presentation Skills in Science — DG70 34
  • Information Technology Applications Software 1— D75X 34
  • Fundamental Chemistry: Theory and Practice — DH2K 34
  • Quality and Health & Safety Systems in the Science Industries — DF82 34
  • Applied Sciences Graded Unit 1 — Investigation — DJ89 34 
  • Mathematics for Science 1 — DN8D 33
  • Statistics for Science 1 — DN8C 34
  • Cell Biology: Theory and Practice — DJ1K 34
  • Microbiology; Theory and Practice — DH55 34  
  • Fundamental Concepts of Organic Chemistry — DP2P 34
  • Fundamental Concepts of Inorganic Chemistry — DP2N 34
  • Fundamental Concepts of Physical Chemistry — DP2R 34
  • Physics 1 — DN33 33
  • Animal Biology 1 — DP4L 34
  • DNA Structure and Function — DJ6Y 34
  • Protein Structure and Function — DG6X 35
  • Human Body Structure and Function — DG71 35
  • Aromatic Chemistry — DP54 34
  • Transition Metal Chemistry — DR0E 35
  • Thermodynamics and Kinetics — DP4N 35
  • Applied Sciences: Graded Unit 2 — Project — DW8J 35

Group Award Specification

Title: HND Applied Sciences
Code: G86E 16
Date: Version 06 (September 2015)
Download: HND Applied Sciences Arrangements Document(260 KB)