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What are credits?

All qualifications in Scottish education are given credits as part of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).

There are many Scottish qualifications, including Nationals, Highers, SVQs, HNCs, HNDs and degrees. The SCQF is a way of showing how they relate to each other and to other qualifications from around the world.

Credits explained

The SCQF uses two measures to help you understand and compare Scottish qualifications:


Level indicates the level of difficulty. The SCQF has 12 levels. Level 12 is the most demanding.

  • Level 5 – National 5/Standard Grade/O-Grades
  • Level 6 – Higher
  • Level 7 – Advanced Higher and HNC
  • Level 8 – HND
  • Level 9 – Bachelors Degree
  • Level 10 – Honours Degree
  • Level 11 – Masters Degree, Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip), Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert)
  • Level 12 – Doctoral Degree


Credits indicate the length of time, or the notional effort, it takes to complete. This includes teaching, private study and assessment time.

1 credit = 10 hours.

One SCQF credit represents an average of 10 hours of learning time, including study and assessment.

15 credits = 150 hours.

So, a 15-credit online course will take the average student around 150 hours (15 credits x 10 hours) to complete.

As a guide, this works out to around 10-15 weeks hours per week over a semester (15 weeks).

This is only a guide. You may find that you take more or less time to complete the course, but this will not affect the number of credits you receive for completing the qualification. However long it takes, you’ll still receive 15 credits.

How credits help you

SCQF credits should be recognised by other institutions of higher education as credit towards further related programmes of study.

You can use your SCQF credits towards new qualifications – at home, abroad and online.

There are different paths you can take. For example, many learners who have achieved an HND have used this credit towards a degree – entering into year 2 or 3 at university instead of year 1.

Building up credits

Credits you earn with our On-demand short courses can be used at the University of Aberdeen towards related programmes of study.

Some of our short courses are part of degree programmes.

Where this is the case, you can study towards the full degree, short course by short course, building credits as you go.

The short courses you take need to be part of the degree you’re aiming for. Check the ‘Where Will This Take Me?’ section of the course page to see if your course is part of any degree programmes.

As you build up credits, you can apply for postgraduate qualifications, or apply to transfer into the degree programme when it suits you.

For example, take our 30-credit short courses that are part of our Masters in Scottish Heritage:

  • Complete two and you’ll have enough credits to apply for a PgCert qualification
  • Complete two more and you’ll have enough credits to apply for a PgDip qualification
  • Add a third year and dissertation to complete the full Masters in Scottish Heritage.

At SCQF Level 11

How many credits can I study for at once?

Studying 45 credits or more in a semester (15 weeks) is considered full-time.

Most of our short-course students study part-time. This means normally taking up to 30 credits in a semester. This is a time commitment of around 300 hours over 15 weeks, which is around 20 hours per week.

If you’re studying while you work, we strongly advise that you don’t take any more than 30 credits per semester.