PDA Criminology SCQF level 8

Professional Development Awards (PDAs) extend or broaden professional or vocational skills and are linked to National Occupational Standards. The PDA in Criminology at SCQF level 8 covers the following:

  • theories of crime causation and criminalisation
  • aspects of the criminal justice system in Scotland
  • an open-minded, critical and evaluative approach to study
  • data handling, critical analysis and complex thinking skills
  • problem solving and research skills

This qualification is available through colleges. It has been designed to be delivered as a taught course and will normally be available as a combination of workshops and self-directed study.

This subject will not have alternative assessment guidance for session 2023-24. You should refer to the Group Award/Unit specifications for detailed delivery and assessment information. For general support on delivery and assessment see the HNVQ assessment guidance 2023-24.

The PDA in Criminology at SCQF level 8 has developed in partnership with employers and industry so it is fit for purpose.

This PDA may be delivered for a variety of reasons:

  • to widen participation in Legal Services/Social Sciences
  • to develop further a learner's interest in and knowledge of criminology
  • to allow a learner to acquire a qualification which may enhance their employment or promotion prospects
  • it will help employers meet skills gaps and provide continuing professional development for staff

The Unit-based structure aids timetable flexibility. Units are typically 40 hours of learning and they can be delivered on a full-time or part-time basis.

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

This PDA is intended for a range of learners. For example, adult returners, those not able to commit to a full HN programme, employees seeking to improve their CPD.


Entry is at the discretion of the centre. However, it would be beneficial if learners had achieved at least one of the following:

  • relevant Units or qualifications at SCQF level 7
  • relevant PDA at SCQF level 7
  • HNC Social Sciences, Legal Services or Police Studies
  • significant employment experience for a specific subject(s)

Centres are encouraged to take into account experience, life skills and potential ability.

Learners would have the opportunity of progressing to other PDAs, which could perhaps lead to a full HN qualification in Social Sciences or Legal Services at SCQF levels 7 or 8.

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.

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

Each Unit is assessed separately. Assessment will be a mixture of open and closed-book. Assessment/e-assessment support packs are available for this qualification.

Group Award code: GK8R 48 (24 SCQF credit points)

The PDA in Criminology at SCQF level 8 consists of one mandatory Unit and one optional Unit.