SQA Advanced Certificate/Diploma Nautical Science

The SQA Advanced Certificate and SQA Advanced Diploma in Nautical Science provide skills and knowledge that meet the needs of employers.

The SQA Advanced Certificate (SCQF level 7) develops knowledge and skills in areas such as chartwork and tides, navigational mathematics and science, marine meteorology, bridge watchkeeping, marine cargo operations, ship stability, naval architecture, and celestial navigation.

The SQA Advanced Diploma (SCQF level 8) builds on the knowledge and skills of the SQA Advanced Certificate and covers marine emergency response and communication, marine law and management, marine passage planning, management of bridge operations, applied marine meteorology, ship stability, marine vessels: structures and maintenance, management of vessel operations, shipmaster's business, shipboard management, and marine engineering systems.

These qualifications are available through a growing number of colleges and universities around the world. Typically, an SQA Advanced Certificate takes one year to complete and an SQA Advanced Diploma takes two years.

Why deliver this qualification

SQA Advanced Certificates and Diplomas 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 flexible delivery. A unit is typically 40 hours of timetabled learning.

The SQA Advanced Certificate and Diploma provide progression routes to further study (see Progression).

Who does this qualification suit

The SQA Advanced Certificate and Diploma are suitable for a wide range of learners including:

  • school leavers
  • adult returners to education
  • learners 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 National Certificate in Ship and Marine Operations with deck options (SCQF level 6)
  • at least two Higher (SCQF level 6) passes, one of which should be Mathematics or a physical science — learners should also have National 5 English (SCQF level 5) or above
  • relevant work experience

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


Learners who achieve an SQA Advanced Certificate may progress to the SQA Advanced Diploma, then possibly to a related degree level course. For further information please refer to SQA's progression partners.

Learners should approach individual centres regarding possible articulation options.

Offer this qualification

Centres with devolved authority for approval should use their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority must 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.

How to assess

Each unit specification gives detailed information on the evidence requirements and approaches to assessment for the unit.

Qualification structure

SQA Advanced Certificate in Nautical Science at SCQF level 7

Group award code: GN21 47 (96 SCQF credit points)

SQA Advanced Diploma in Nautical Science at SCQF level 8

Group award code: GN22 48 (240 SCQF credit points)

Group award specification

For further information on the structures please refer to the group award specification - GN21 47 and GN22 48 (800 KB)

Unit Specifications