SQA Advanced Certificate/Diploma Visual Communication

SQA Advanced Certificate and SQA Advanced Diploma qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers.

The SQA Advanced Certificate in Visual Communication (SCQF 7) covers areas such as art and design, an introduction to visual communication and digital imaging. The Advanced Certificate in Visual Communication (SCQF level 7) provides an opportunity for learners to prepare themselves for a career within the creative industries, for example in areas such as graphic design, illustration, and new media. The qualification develops knowledge and skills in visual communication through in-depth study of the design industry.

The SQA Advanced Diploma in Visual Communication (SCQF 8) builds on the knowledge and skills of the SQA Advanced Certificate and covers areas such as preparing and working in the field of visual communication, creativity for artists and designers, and mixed media.

This qualification is available through a growing number of colleges, training providers 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 SQA Advanced 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.

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

The SQA Advanced Certificate/Diploma provides progression routes to further study (see Progression).

Who does this qualification suit

The SQA Advanced Certificate/Diploma in Visual Communication is suitable for a wide range of candidates 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

Entry requirements

As with all SQA qualifications, entry is decided by the college or learning provider. As a guide, the college or learning provider will look for:

  • school-leaving qualifications equivalent to level 3/SCQF level 6 meaning the student has the ability to study at the higher level.
  • a centre-devised test which shows the student's ability to study at SQA Advanced Diploma level.
  • relevant work experience.


A student who has obtained the SQA Advanced Certificate in Visual Communication can progress to the SQA Advanced Diploma in Visual Communication.

The SQA Advanced Diploma in Visual Communication can provide advanced entry to degree-level study. 

Offer this qualification

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.

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.

Qualification structure

SQA Advanced Certificate in Visual Communication

Group Award code: GR9T 47 (96 SCQF credit points)

SQA Advanced Certificate in Visual Communication at SCQF level 7 consists of six mandatory units.

SQA Advanced Diploma in Visual Communication

Group Award code: GR9R 48 (240 SCQF credit points)

SQA Advanced Diploma in Visual Communication at SCQF level 8 consists of 11 mandatory units.

For further information on the structures and units of these qualifications please refer to the group award specification document.

Group award specification

Unit Specifications