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  • Scotland

Awards recognise the life and work skills students gain from activities they may already be taking part in at school, college, or elsewhere — such as sport, mentoring, voluntary work, or fundraising activities. In common with some other qualifications in SQA’s portfolio, they have been designed to recognise wider achievement. As such, they will generally tend to be considered by HEPs as qualifications that help students develop a range of additional skills or wider achievements that will complement their learning journey in the Senior Phase of Curriculum for Excellence.

Awards are not the standard entry requirement for Scottish applicants to Scottish universities but, along with other qualifications at SCQF Level 6, may be used to help facilitate entry to short-cycle higher education (HE), such as Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs), offered in some Scottish HEPs. Some universities may also consider them – alongside achievement at Higher – for entry to certain HE programmes.

Awards also provide access to employment, further education, and training.

Awards are aimed at developing students’ knowledge and understanding and, where appropriate, practical experience of a given area of education.

Education context

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

Awards are taken in schools, Scottish tertiary colleges, and are also available as part of Skills Development Scotland’s Employability Fund contracts.

Awards support the aims and principles of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and also Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce agenda. See ‘What is Curriculum for Excellence?’ and also Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce.

The Scottish qualifications system, designed to support CfE, and provides an opportunity for greater variety and diversity in curriculum planning, which may lead to different patterns of presentation for qualifications, including increased exposure for students to different types of qualification. The aim is to ensure an appropriate curriculum for each students. This means that students in schools may take Awards in any of the three years of the Senior Phase of secondary school – S4-S6, or across more than one academic year. In tertiary colleges, candidates will generally study them over one academic year. In schools, Awards have most commonly been taken in S4 or S5, and usually concurrently with other National Qualifications, such as National 5, Higher, National Progression Awards (NPAs), or National Certificates. In colleges, Awards are usually taken as part of programmes of full-time or part-time learning. This involves students taking a range of credit points from SQA units either directly related to the subject studied, or which are designed to develop a wider range of core and transferable skills.

Awarding organisation
  • SQA

SQA allocates a unique qualification number to each subject as a 4 + 2 code: •   Gxxx (‘G’ refers to Group Award and ‘46’ refers to both Group Award (the ‘4’) and level (the ‘6’) – Award at SCQF Level 6).

Awards are available at SCQF Levels 1-12. At SCQF Level 6, they are made up of National Units, Higher National (HN) Units, National (Workplace) Units, or Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) Units with no minimum or maximum size.

Awards may be made up of mandatory units only, or a combination of mandatory and optional units. The majority of the SCQF credit points (i.e. more than half of all of the credit points) must be at the level of the Award, and these can come from either the mandatory or optional sections of the qualification, or both.

Awards must include a minimum of one unit, but there is no maximum, and component units may be of different credit values, though normally six or 12 SCQF credit points, depending on the fitness for purpose of the unit.

Units at SCQF Levels 5 and 7 may be included in Awards at SCQF Level 6, though more than half of the credit points must be at SCQF Level 6 or higher.

All Awards are developed according to SQA’s Design Principles for the qualification, as well as the SCQF level descriptors, to ensure the consistency of standards, validity, and reliability across subjects.

Subject areas

Awards at SCQF Level 6 are currently available in 6 subjects. These are:

  • Award in Religion, Belief, and Values
  • Leadership Award
  • Personal Development Award
  • Scots Language Award
  • Scottish Studies Award
  • Statistics

SCQF Level 6 qualification.

SCQF Level 6 is the level at which Highers sit on the SCQF.

SCQF Level 6 is the equivalent of RQF Level 3, which is the level at which A levels sit.


This qualification is ungraded and is awarded upon candidates achieving a Pass in the unit, or each of the units required to successfully complete the qualification.

The flexibility of Awards enables other qualifications to be included in their structure. An external assessment from a National Qualification may not contribute to an Award, however.


Unit assessment may be undertaken at the end of each unit, or through holistic or combined assessment across two or more units.

Unit assessment is marked by the teacher or lecturer, and is not graded. It is subject to internal verification in the centre, and to rigorous external quality assurance by SQA.

Units are assessed according to the Conditions of Assessment appropriate to the subject and level.

Where appropriate, some units are assessed through methods such as an assignment, practical activities, performance, or portfolio evidence.

Where other qualifications – such as a National Progression Award (NPA) – are included in a specific Award, assessment information is available in the QIP for NPAs.

The unit specifications stipulate the nature of unit assessment and are available on the Unit Search, along with information on the Group Award.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

The qualification is not graded.

Resit arrangements

Remediation of unit assessment allows for a second attempt, with a further attempt in exceptional circumstances.

Guided/notional learning hours notes

At least six SCQF credit points with no maximum size.

At least 60 notional learning hours with no maximum size.

UCAS Tariff points

Unknown qualification

Grade Points

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Grade Points

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Grade Points

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Grade Points


Key issues for UK HE admissions

Awards are of variable size and may contain units that are at a lower or higher level than the level of the award. Where credit is at a lower level than the award, these units have not formed part of the Tariff calculation. Only units at or above the level of the award have been used for this purpose. Units in an Award at SCQF Level 6 which are above the level of the Award, have been calculated at UCAS grade band 7.

Students would generally not be expected to apply to undergraduate degree study directly with one or more Awards at SCQF Level 6, unless it is taken as part of a wider programme of learning, including Highers. For progression to short-cycle HE, such as HNC and HND, it may provide a more suitable pathway in Scotland, dependent on relevance, size, and whether taken alongside other qualifications at SCQF Level 6. Many of these students will then enter undergraduate degree study directly into the second or third year with their HNC or HND at Scottish HEPs. A smaller number will apply with their HNC or HND from Scotland to HEPs in England, Northern Ireland, or Wales.

Some students – particularly if taking Awards at school – will take them alongside Highers, though this may also be the case if taken at a tertiary college. There is, therefore, likely to be a relatively mixed pattern of qualifications for applicants to HEPs who hold an Award.

Under CfE, there is an enhanced emphasis on ensuring students undertake their learning journey, and the qualifications and assessment which support it, at a pace which best meets their needs, allowing them some personalisation and choice in the overall curriculum they engage with. As such, different patterns of provision and attainment among students are likely to emerge.

SQA Award subjects

Band D

Band C

Band B

Band A


Personal Development Award (GF2M 46)

Award in Religion, Belief and Values (GF2G 46)

Leadership Award (G9D4 46)


Scottish Studies Award (GJ71 46)

Scots Language Award (GJ7G 46)

Statistics Award (GK8Y 46)

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Award assessment is internal and occurs throughout the qualification.

Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Reporting and certification information

Certification of achievement in Awards is published on an ongoing basis.

1,306 Awards at SCQF Level 6 were awarded in 2015.

Entries and achievement rates for Awards by year are available at:

Progression information

Award at SCQF Level 6 provides students with the opportunity to pursue a diversified curriculum at school, as well as an opportunity to develop wider achievements in a particular subject area in school or tertiary college.

It also complements other SCQF Level 6 qualifications and learning, and can be used to support applications to higher education courses, particularly if taken alongside other SCQF Level 6 qualifications.

In addition, this qualification provides students with the opportunity for progression into further education, employment, apprenticeships, and other forms of training.

Further information

SQA’s Group Award and unit specifications, and other supporting documentation for each Award subject are available at:

SQA’s website.

View the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) website.