All Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) certificate and diploma awards are continuously assessed throughout the duration of the course. Assessment may take the form of written or practical project work, according to the nature of the course.

Courses include – at non-advanced level – Professional Development Awards (PDA), National Certificate courses (NC), National Qualifications (NQ), at Access, intermediate 1, 2 and Higher levels. Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ), Access courses and leisure courses.

Advanced level courses include Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Higher National Diploma (HND). Many advanced level courses lead to further study at university, often directly into Year 2 or Year 3 of a degree course by way of articulation and progression agreements.


The SQC certificates are awarded for the successful completion of one or more National Units or Modules. A National Unit or Module comprises 40 hours study (1 credit) but is often completed in less. Study at this level is suitable for people who do not have any formal qualifications or who have not been in education for some time.


Courses under this award consist of a number of National Units or Modules which lead to a group award. The study is vocational and covers training related to the work place therefore on successful completion of a National Certificate you will be better prepared to take up employment. Alternatively, you may wish to continue your education at a higher level using your National Certificate course as a strong foundation.


Access courses can act as entry routes to a Higher National Certificate, a Higher National Diploma or a Degree course if successfully completed. Usually no formal qualifications are required to apply.


SVQs are available for a wide range of occupations and they are offered at five levels. They provide an excellent route for those wishing to enhance career development. SVQs are primarily designed for the workplace, but can be studied at college (where simulated workplace environments have been established), or by a mixture of college attendance and workplace training.


National Progression Awards are designed to assess a defined set of skills and knowledge in specialist vocational areas and are linked to National Occupational Standards. They range from SCQF level 2-6.


PDAs are typically designed for people who are already in a career and who wish to extend or broaden their knowledge or skills. However, in some cases they may also be suitable for those wishing to enter into specific employment. PDA qualifications are often studied at different levels from NQ to HN and may include work-based units. They assess against national occupational standards or other professional body standards.


Higher National Units are usually 40 hours in duration (1 credit).


To gain an HNC you must successfully complete the appropriate number of mandatory and optional credits for the award. The total number of credits required is normally 12. A full-time HNC requires 1 year of study and you can also gain an HNC by way of part-time study, usually over 2-3 years. Single HN Units may also be studied out with group awards.


To gain an HND you must successfully complete the appropriate number of mandatory and optional credits for the award. The total number of credits required is 30.

In full-time study, HND courses usually take two years to complete, although some HND courses are offered on a part-time basis. The time taken to attain this award via part-time study will be much longer.


Ayrshire College works with the Open University in Scotland to offer a part-time route to a degree with continued access to all the college study, IT and library facilities. Every year the Open University helps thousands of college students turn their existing HNC or HND into full degrees. At present the Open University is offering progression on to the following course: BA (Honours) Combined Social Science

Click here for more information. 

CAA Exams

Ayrshire College has been recognised by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as an official examination centre.

The CAA oversees the safety of all UK aviation industry activity on behalf of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

By becoming an online examination centre, the College is now the fourth site in the UK – and the only site in Scotland - that people in the aviation industry can sit their Aircraft Maintenance Licence exam online. Click here for more information.

Course Search


Browse all courses Advanced search