HNC Environmental Management

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The HNC in Environmental Management (SCQF level 7) is designed to allow learners to focus not only on what they can do to micro-manage changes at the individual level (what can I personally do to help the environment?), but also to address the broader macro-level challenges and learning to affect change across policy, planning, and community level behaviours.

Students will also have opportunities to gain knowledge and practical experience of biological, physical and ecological systems, including awareness of their socio-economic and political contexts, and to be exposed to some of the UK's leading technology in this field.

This qualification covers areas such as biodiversity conservation, ecology and ecosystems, geology and geomorphology, rural land use, and environmental awareness.

This qualification is available through colleges and some universities. Typically, an HNC takes one year to complete.

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 HN provides progression routes to further study (see Progression).

The HNC Environmental Management 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
  • people who wish to start their own business


As with all SQA qualifications, entry is at the discretion of the centre. Examples of formal entry qualifications include:

  • Two SQA Highers (SCQF level 6) together with three National 5s (to include one science or geography).
  • An appropriate group of National Units at SCQF level 5/6. These may include: Geography: Human Environments (SCQF Level 5); Geography: Physical Environments (SCQF Level 5-6); Environmental Science: Earth's Resources (SCQF Level 5-6); Environmental Science: Sustainability (SCQF Level 5-6), and Environmental Science: Living Environment (SCQF Level 5-6).
  • An appropriate vocational qualification such as an SVQ/NVQ at level 3 in a relevant subject - for example SVQ Environmental Conservation.
  • Other combinations of National Qualifications, vocational qualifications and qualifications from other awarding bodies may be acceptable at equivalent SCQF levels.
  • Suitable (paid or unpaid) work experience and strong references.

Progression and employment

Learners who achieve an HNC Environmental Management can progress to the HND in Environmental Management (GR7K 16).

HNCs and HNDs can provide progression to degree-level study. For example, the HNC in Environmental Management allows direct entry into the second year of most related degree programmes, and the HND in Environmental Management allows direct entry to third year of most related programmes.

Higher National qualifications also provide the knowledge and understanding required for related Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) - for example SVQ Environmental Conservation SCQF Level 6.

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

Centres without devolved authority should 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.

Ongoing course assessment will apply.

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

HNC Environmental Management

Group Award code: GR7J 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC Environmental Management at SCQF level 7 consists of 11 mandatory units (88 SCQF credit points) and one optional unit (eight SCQF credit points).