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Scottish Baccalaureate
  • Scotland

A Scottish Baccalaureate is a group award consisting of a coherent group of current Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications, in addition to an Interdisciplinary Project.

Scottish Baccalaureates offer increased subject specialisation, enabling candidates to develop knowledge, skills and qualifications in expressive arts, languages, science or social sciences, and other transferable skills, which will enhance progression opportunities and offer added breadth and value.

They are intended to:

  • provide candidates with valuable opportunities to make connections with the wider world of learning and work
  • broaden the student experience and provide opportunities to further apply or extend subject knowledge and further develop generic skills, attitudes and confidence
  • raise the status and value of learning and to motivate students in their last year of school, S6 (sixth year)
  • encourage greater coherence in study in S5 and S6 (fifth year to sixth year).

Separate QIPs are provided for Highers, Advanced Highers and the Interdisciplinary Project.

Education context

In Scotland, secondary school is organised into six school years, S1 – S6 (first year to sixth year).

Scottish Baccalaureates are taken in a number of state and independent schools and some tertiary colleges in Scotland.

Candidates usually complete their Baccalaureate in S6 but may take component awards in S5 and S6.

For academic year 2014/15, the Scottish Baccalaureates may include either the new or old Highers alongside the current Advanced Highers.

The new Highers and Advanced Highers have been revised in accordance with the aims and principles of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). See ‘What is Curriculum for Excellence?’ at:…

Scottish Baccalaureates are at the same Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level as the starting point of Scottish higher education, SCQF Level 7

Awarding organisation
  • SQA

Each Baccalaureate is based on a coherent group of subjects at Higher and Advanced Higher level. The award consists of two Advanced Highers, one Higher and an Interdisciplinary Project.

For details of the structure and subject choices in each Scottish Baccalaureate see:

In each Scottish Baccalaureate, candidates choose the following:

  • from the mandatory section, the Interdisciplinary Project and one subject from either English, ESOL and Gàidhlig or mathematics and applied mathematics, depending on the Baccalaureate
  • from the core options, either two subjects from the cognate group, such as two sciences in the Baccalaureate in Science, or one subject from the core options and one subject from the broadening options
  • up to one subject from the broadening options, which allows for a choice to be made for a subject in a broadly related cognate group, such as computing or product design in the Baccalaureate in Science. A broadening option will not be selected if two subjects are taken from the core options
  • the Baccalaureate in Languages does not have a broadening option.

The two component Advanced Higher courses (64 SCQF credit points) and the Interdisciplinary Project (16 SCQF credit points) are levelled at SCQF Level 7 whilst the component Higher (24 SCQF credit points) is a SCQF Level 6 qualification.

All Scottish Baccalaureates are developed according to SQA Design Principles and SCQF level descriptors in order to ensure the consistency of standards, validity and reliability across subjects.

Subject areas
  • Expressive arts
  • Languages
  • Sciences
  • Social sciences
  • SCQF Level 7

SCQF Level 7 qualification (sitting across Levels 3 and 4 in England, Northern Ireland and Wales).

SCQF Level 7 is the starting level for Scottish higher education. Applicants to HE may be awarded direct entry to the second year at Scottish HEPs for certain degree subjects based on specified achievement in two or three Advanced Highers.


Pass or Distinction for the Scottish Baccalaureate.

See separate QIPs for more information on grading on the Higher, Advanced Higher and Interdisciplinary Project component awards.


To gain the Scottish Baccalaureate, candidates must achieve a Pass in each of the component Units and a grade C or above in each of the course assessments of the contributory Higher and Advanced Highers, as well as a Grade C or above in the Interdisciplinary Project.

Separate QIPs are provided for Highers, Advanced Highers and the Interdisciplinary Project

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Criteria for a Distinction: grade A in one eligible Advanced Higher; grade A in any other component; grade B or above in all other components.

Criteria for Pass: Candidates who achieve at least grade C in all mandatory components and who do not meet the criteria for Distinction will be awarded a Pass

Resit arrangements

As a group award there are no separate resit arrangements.

For details of retaking component awards see the QIPs for Higher, Advanced Higher and the Interdisciplinary Project.

Where the component is taken as a resit, this could affect the grade of the Scottish Baccalaureate.

Guided/notional learning hours
The Scottish Baccalaureate represents 1,040 notional learning hours (104 SCQF credits): 1040 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

Two Advanced Highers: 2 x 320 notional learning hours = 640 notional learning hours (64 SCQF credits)

One Higher = 240 notional learning hours (24 SCQF credit points)

Interdisciplinary Project = 160 notional learning hours (16 SCQF credits)

Key issues for UK HE admissions

Many candidates in S6 receive unconditional offers from Scottish HEPs based on their Highers results in S5.

Several Scottish HEPs make offers based on the achievement of a Scottish Baccalaureate, including entry directly into second year of an undergraduate degree.

Some young people use them to gain entry to HEPs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Baccalaureates in S6 are not the standard uptake across Scotland. Local timetabling decisions and size of school may create variations in the pattern of provision; this may affect whether Scottish Baccalaureates are offered and taken at a centre. However, Baccalaureates are usually conducted through partnerships between schools, colleges, HEPs and employers, as appropriate.

The practice of making unconditional offers to candidates in S6 affects uptake and retention of Advanced Highers and Scottish Baccalaureates.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Higher and Advanced Higher subject examinations are taken from late April to mid-June.

The Interdisciplinary Project is developed throughout much of S6 and results are submitted to SQA at the end of March.

Results for the Scottish Baccalaureate are published in early August.

Qualification date
This is a current qualification. (From the 2014/15 academic year, and for a couple of years thereafter, candidates’ Scottish Baccalaureates may contain an existing or new Higher.)
This is a current qualification. (From the 2015/16 academic year, and for a couple of years thereafter, candidates’ Scottish Baccalaureates may contain existing and/or new Advanced Highers.)
Reporting and certification information

145 candidates passed Scottish Baccalaureates in 2014. 72 of these candidates achieved a Distinction.

For more details of entries and pass rates per year / per qualification, including by stage, along with grade distributions are available at:

Further information

More information on each Scottish Baccalaureate is available at:

SQA’s website is:

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) website is available at: