Qualifications Explained

We know that it is important to understand what level of course you are applying for. For this reason we have explained the qualification types available at West Lothian College. 

Modes of study

Full-time courses

Our full-time courses are usually studied over 3 days Monday- Friday, with expected study out with these times for assignments, study and course work.

We offer in the region of 100 full-time courses per year, with the majority starting in August each year and a limited number in January each year.

To find out more about our full-time courses and find a course suitable for you visit our apply now page

Part-time courses

Our part-time courses are split up in to:

Part-time evening – usually consisting of 1 or 2 evenings per week, depending on the course. Courses in this category can be for career progression (for example ILM) or to enhance your qualifications (for example Higher Maths) or for leisure (for example Practical Cake Craft)

Part-time day – usually consisting of a 1 half or full day per week. Students applying for these courses are commonly people who either work part-time, are unemployed or work shifts and want to study part-time during the day. Examples of courses include ESOL and Sage Accounting, although dependent on demand.

Day release – usually consisting of 1 full day of study per week in the college. Students applying for these courses are commonly in employment and an agreement is undertaken with the student and employer to allow them time out of work to study and progress their career. Examples of courses include HNC Mechanical Engineering and NC Built Environment.

Short courses – these courses range from a half day to 6 months. Students applying for these courses are usually people who are want to progress their career or gain a qualifications to enhance their career prospects, or to learn a new skill. Examples of courses include SIA security guarding, Paediatric First Aid, GDPR elementary, Modern Fusion Cooking and Spanish Language.

SVQs – these courses are for workplace delivery. Should you wish to study an SVQ whilst in employment, either talk to your employer or email workforcedevelopment@west-lothian.ac.uk to discuss what is offered by your employer. Examples of courses include SVQ in Retail, SVQ in Playwork, SVQ in Social Sciences and SVQ in Engineering.

Community courses – these courses are ran predominantly in either West Lothian College or in community and partnership centres across West Lothian. Courses are usually advertised via community centres and affiliated networks. Examples of courses include Numeracy for Parents, Basic IT and Motorcycle Maintenance.

To find a course suitable for you visit our courses page

Schools courses

Schools courses are for students who are staying on at school and wanting to gain some college experience, usually 2 afternoons per week.

You will study our schools courses alongside your school’s curriculum. Examples of courses include HNC Computing, Care, Fashion and NC Mechanical Engineering.

For more information visit our Schools course page

Foundation Apprenticeships

Foundation Apprenticeship courses are for students staying on at school and want to gain a college experience and hands on work experience, whilst at school. The courses are the same level as a Higher, and are studied usually over the course of two years, allowing you to combine these with your other school studies. During your Foundation Apprenticeship you will spend time with employers, through both industry speakers and class trips, as well as through a work placement- giving you real, hands on work experience in your chosen industry.

Examples of courses include Scientific Technologies, Children and Young People, Engineering and Civil Engineering.

For more information visit our Foundation Apprenticeship course page

Qualification Types

Below you will get a description of different qualification types offered at West Lothian College. 

National Qualifications (NC/NQ)

On successful completion of this vocational qualification you should be qualified to gain employment or use the qualification to continue studying at a more advanced level. These are non-advanced qualifications.

Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ)

Typically an SVQ is achieved in the workplace. Some SVQs or SVQ units are incorporated into other awards or courses including HNCs and Modern Apprenticeships. Modern Apprenticeships combine work- based competences and foundation knowledge.

Higher National Certificates (HNC)

HNCs are normally offered through the equivalent of one year’s full-time higher education. They can give entry to HNDs and degree courses at level 8.

Higher National Diplomas (HND)

HNDs are normally offered through the equivalent of two year’s full-time higher education. They can give entry to degree courses at level 9.

All our qualifications support students to move towards employment, further education or training and offer vital skills development for learning, for life and for work.

Further information can be found at the following:

Scottish Qualifications Authority - www.sqa.org.uk

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) compares a wide range of Scottish qualifications. It covers attainments, including those gained at school, college, university and the workplace, providing each qualification with a standard SCQF level and credit point rating.

All Scottish universities and colleges are now using SCQF levels and credit points to describe their courses.

More information can be found on the Scottish Credit Qualification Framework website here: www.scqf.org.uk