Social Sciences HNC

UCAS code 143L

What is special about this course?

The Social Sciences HNC will help you to find answers to the bigger questions in our society.

This course is designed to help you see the world differently. We are all exposed to so much information in our daily lives that it can be difficult to assess what is real and what is ‘fake’: HNC Social Sciences is the perfect course for students who want to develop the skills to search for the truth.

The course is designed to help you investigate and examine the areas of our lives that we can and cannot control: much of our social existence is influenced by forces that we do not know or understand, so this course helps you explore those factors.

You will be supported to develop your critical thinking and your complex problem solving abilities by looking for creative solutions to social, political and psychological problems. You will learn how topics cross over between all of your subjects, for example, the concept of power – you will explore this from a socio-political perspective but also an historical, a criminological and a psychological perspective; similarly, the concept of conformity and how this weaves into our everyday social, political and psychological behaviours.

Special features

  • You will gain the skills and knowledge required to seek out objectivity and fact
  • The study of social sciences aims to stimulate your curiosity about the complexity of your world. We will help you develop the tools needed to be critical and analytical thinkers
  • You can study the HNC full-time or part-time to suit your personal and professional circumstances
  • The course is delivered by a blended approach. This means, depending on where you study, you will have some face-to-face classes and some online learning via the university's virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • Achievement of the full 15-credit HNC programme would enable you to progress into the 2nd year of the majority of our Gaelic or Humanities degree programmes, such as BA (Hons) Social Sciences. It may also enable entry onto the 1st year of many non-related degrees


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

  • 1 Scottish Higher at grade C or above, preferably including English, History or Modern Studies OR
  • 1 A level at grade D or above, preference for English or History
  • Subjects can also include Sociology or Psychology
  • Prospective students without the standard entry requirements as listed above are encouraged to apply
  • This is a Category 2 PVG course: PVG Scheme membership is required for specific optional modules/unit(s), where there is guaranteed contact with vulnerable groups in optional module/unit(s), but an alternative pathway exists to achieve target qualification. For further information visit our PVG scheme webpage
  • You may be required to attend an interview and may be asked to demonstrate your discursive writing skills

Access routes

  • NC or Access course in a related subject

Year 1 - HNC

Mandatory units are:

  • Social sciences: research and methodology
  • Social sciences: graded unit 1 
  • Psychology A: history and development of psychology
  • Sociology A: introducing sociological concepts and theories
  • Sociology B: application and analysis of sociological theory to sociological topics

Option units may include:

  • Politics A: an introduction to political theory of the state
  • Psychology B: explanation and research of psychological topics
  • Politics B: the UK and Scotland
  • History A: introducing topics within a historical period
  • History B: analysing topics within a historical period
  • Philosophy A: an introduction to political debate
  • Criminology

Option units available may vary depending on study location, for more information contact your chosen campus

How will I study my course?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Our priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students and staff. We continue to review government guidance and will inform you of any further changes to the information provided below about your course. You will study the course through our blended learning approach. In semester one, September 2020, the course will be delivered mainly online through a combination of video conference seminars, tutor-supported study and self-directed study using the university's virtual learning environment. You will also have the opportunity to do an online induction at the start of the course. On-campus activities and teaching will be introduced in line with the developing Scottish Government public health measures and guidance, including social distancing.
  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • Part-time (unstructured)
  • Students enrolled at Inverness College UHI, Moray College UHI, Perth College UHI and West Highland College UHI will learn through a combination of face-to-face lectures and tutorials in the classroom and online study via the university's virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • Lectures will be by video conference for those enrolled with Argyll College UHI, Lews Castle College UHI and Shetland College UHI
  • You will be assessed continuously throughout your course and will undertake some formal examinations at the end of the course

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Part-time: 2 years

Where can I study my course?

  • Argyll College UHI
  • Inverness College UHI
  • Lews Castle College UHI
  • Moray College UHI
  • Perth College UHI
  • Shetland College UHI
  • West Highland College UHI

Start date

  • September


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £1,285 £1,285
Part-time (per HN credit) £86 £86

Note: The Scottish Government set this fee which has not yet been confirmed for 2021-22 so may be subject to change.

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and with a term time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £6,720 £6,915
Part-time (per HN credit) £448 £461

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living while studying.

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK, including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled or pre-settled status in the UK, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £7,020 £7,230
Part-time (per HN credit) £468 £482

Part-time study is not open to international student requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK.


External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact your enrolling college for more information.

What can I do on completion of my course?

Your HNC Social Sciences qualification will open up a number of career opportunities in the public, private and voluntary sectors. The skills you develop will prepare you for jobs that require employees to be creative; critical; complex problem solvers; mature; and objective.

Achievement of the HNC will help you in a range of careers. The Campaign for Social Science employability report suggests that most graduates will pursue careers in the professional services such as:

  • Researchers
  • Teachers
  • Recruitment consultants
  • Legal professionals
  • Town planners
  • Social workers
  • Local/national politics

Can I progress into further study?

  • Achievement of the full 15-credit HNC programme would enable you to progress into the 2nd year of the majority of our Humanities or Gaelic degree programmes such as BA (Hons) Social Sciences, or to one of our single or joint honours degrees in history; Scottish history; politics; and sociology and criminology
  • Achievement of the narrower 12-credit programme would be accepted as entry onto the 1st year of the majority of our Humanities and Gaelic degree programmes

Is there more information available online?

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Apply for Social Sciences HNC

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2021

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate 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 gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.