Social Sciences HNC

Course 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?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • Part-time (unstructured)
  • Students enrolled at Inverness, Moray, and Perth 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, North, West and Hebrides, and Shetland
  • 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
  • Inverness
  • Moray
  • North, West and Hebrides
  • Perth
  • Shetland

Start date

  • September


Find out more about fees, fee waivers and funding options.


UHI has a number of scholarships, bursaries, awards, and discretionary fund opportunities available to new and current students. Please use the A-Z of funds or use the filter to see which ones may be relevant to you. All students are welcome to apply.

Further information on funding your studies is also available, please see the attached link or contact the relevant UHI partner.

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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You can use the above QR code to connect directly to the course details.

I love the friendliness of all the staff, the mix of students that you meet online from all over Scotland, and the accessibility of the mode of study. I am just grateful for the experience and the chance to better myself academically. My personal academic tutor has been so supportive, given me a few pep talks and encouraged me to believe in my abilities. 

Lisa Ryder graduated from the HNC Social Sciences at UHI Shetland. 

Apply for Social Sciences HNC

  • Applications to this course are now closed for September 2023 entry. Applications for September 2024 will open in September 2023. Please revisit this page then to apply.

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.