PDA Data Science SCQF levels 7, 8 and 9

Professional Development Awards (PDAs) extend or broaden professional or vocational skills and are linked to National Occupational Standards. The PDA in Data Science at SCQF levels 7, 8 and 9 covers the following high-level transferable skills:

  • Programming
  • Data literacy
  • Data communication
  • Data visualisation
  • Data analysis

This qualification covers areas such as working with data, communicating data, statistics, projects, data engineering and machine learning.

This qualification is available through colleges, training providers and employers. 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.

The Professional Development Awards (PDAs) in Data Science at SCQF levels 7, 8 and 9 have been developed in partnership with employers and industry, so it is suitable for the current sector.

It will help employers meet skills gaps and provide continuing professional development for staff, while learners will gain knowledge and skills needed for progression in the workplace.

The Professional Development Awards (PDAs) in Data Science provide a suite of intermediate (SCQF Levels 7, 8 and 9) qualifications to address the educational and training requirements of three distinct cohorts of learners.

  1. Learners who wish to gain data skills and analysis skills to improve their existing work role effectiveness - data consumers.
  2. Learners who wish to specialise in data analysis in the context of their current job role - data producers - or transition to a career in data analysis.
  3. Learners who wish to specialise in data analysis to pursue careers in data science - data analysts.

If a learner wishes to specialise in data science, a variety of future career opportunities will be available to learners including:

  • Business intelligence analyst
  • Data analyst
  • Data engineer
  • Data scientist
  • Statistician
  • Applied machine learning engineer

The Level 7 award is designed for people in employment who wish to acquire data skills as part of their current job role. The Level 9 award is designed for learners who wish to retrain or transition into a career in data science. The Level 8 award is designed for both - people in employment who wish to gain analysis skills to progress in their current job role or progress to a specialist role in data analysis.

The focus of the award at Level 7 is to improve the learner's effectiveness in their current job role, which may be non-technical and not directly related to data science. The focus of the Level 9 award is prepare learners for a specialist job role in data science/data analysis. The Level 8 award may be used for progression to more advanced and specialised qualifications in data science as a pathway to a career change.


Entry is at the discretion of the centre.

Learners do not need to have formal relevant qualifications to enter this PDA. Learners would benefit from having attained the skills, knowledge and understanding required by one or more of the following or equivalent qualifications and/or experience:

  • National Units in Mathematics at SCQF level 5 or equivalent
  • Relevant National Progression Awards, such as the NPA in Data Science at SCQF level 6.
  • Relevant industrial experience.

Level 7 assumes no prior knowledge of computing/programming or data science and is suitable for all learners with a sufficient numeracy level.

Level 8 builds on much of the content from level 7 and it is therefore recommended that learners have either completed level 7 or have sufficient programming and data analysis experience to progress directly to level 8.

Level 9 builds on level 8 and learners are recommended to have completed level 8, or have a demonstrable data analysis portfolio utilising a procedural programming language for direct entry at this level.

The Units in the PDA have been mapped against the National Occupational Standards for Data Analytics.

There are no formal articulation routes for this award. However, the qualification could lead to a number of potential destinations including degree courses in data science related disciplines.

The main progressing for this award is from level to level. For example, progressing from level 7 to level 8 to level 9. Learners could exit the award and progress to other National Certificates or HNC/Ds.

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.

Assessment will allow candidates to enhance their own practice. The use of reports and projects is crucial to this.

Assessment/e-assessment support packs are available for some units of this qualification.

Group Award Structure (480 KB)

  • Group Award code - Level 7: GR68 47 (24 SCQF credit points)
  • Group Award code - Level 8: GR67 48 (32 SCQF credit points)
  • Group Award code - Level 9: GR66 49 (40 SCQF credit points)
  • The PDA in Data Science at SCQF level 7 consists of two mandatory Units and one optional Unit.
  • The PDA in Data Science at SCQF level 8 consists of three mandatory Units and one optional Unit.
  • The PDA in Data Science at SCQF level 9 consists of two mandatory Units and one optional Unit.