NC in Rural Skills SCQF Level 4

What is special about this course?

The National Certificate in Rural Skills is designed to equip candidates with the knowledge, understanding and skills required for success in current and future employment or progression to further academic and/or professional qualifications. Many learners embark on current provision with limited prior achievement and, a key purpose of this programme is to support learners to build up employability skills and develop basic skills and capabilities which are transferable.

Careers in nature-based industries are changing in line with the industry which increasingly demands more and more professional skills, attitudes and expertise in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Entry requirements

Entry is at the discretion of the centre and if required a personal learning support plan can be put in place to support candidates.

The course content includes the following units:-

  • Enterprise Activity
  • Bedding Plant Production: An Introduction
  • Tree and Shrub Planting
  • Developing Skills for Employment
  • Rural Estate Maintenance
  • Rural Work Activities
  • Gardening Skills: An Introduction
  • Horticulture: Create a Landscaped Site
  • Horticulture: Prepare an Area for Landscaping
  • Rural Species Identification and Habitats
  • Landscape Aftercare
  • Rural Environment: An Introduction
  • Build and Repair Drystone Dykes
  • Laying Slabs and Paving: An Introduction



How will I study my course?

  • Full Time

Teaching will take place indoors and outdoors at UHI Orkney and partner organisations.

How long will my course last?

2 Years

Where can I study my course?

    • UHI Orkney, Kirkwall


Full time

If you are studying a full time Further Education course (NCs, NQs etc.) the College claims your fees from the Scottish Funding Council for students who are under 18 on the first day of the course. Students over the age of 18 on the first day of the course have to apply to Orkney Islands Council (OIC) for a tuition fees bursary.

Information on the tuition fees bursary is available on the OIC website.

Part time

Normally you are responsible for your course fees but if you are in receipt of certain benefits you may be eligible for a Part Time Course Fee Waiver. Not all part-time courses at Orkney College UHI are covered by the Fee Waiver Scheme and only certain benefits are acceptable as a basis for a Fee Waiver. Please contact the college to enquire.

If you are eligible, you may be entitled to an ILA of up to £200 a year towards a course.


This course may be supported by a Further Education Bursary from Orkney Islands Council and the candidate may also be eligible for an Educational Maintenance Allowance. More information can be found at

What can I do on completion of my course?

The NC in Rural Skills offers progression to other SCQF Level 5 NC courses in specialised areas. For example, Horticulture, Animal Care, Horse Care, Agriculture, Countryside Management, and also to Modern Apprenticeships in the nature-based industries.

Though career progression is not as clear-cut as in some other professional areas, opportunities for advancement exist and are growing. Employment destinations may include farms, countryside estates, parks, fish farms, managed woodlands, game parks, local authorities, and gardening centres.

Is there more information available online?

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Apply for NC in Rural Skills SCQF Level 4

I want to start in 2024/25

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at Orkney College UHI. Orkney College UHI operates a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity status, race, religion and/or belief, sex, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.