Outdoor Leadership SCQF 6 (Fort William) NQ

What is special about this course?

Do you enjoy spending time outdoors and love the exhilaration and challenge of taking part in outdoor adventure activities? Do you also have a desire to turn your hobby into a career? If you've answered 'yes' to both then our Advanced Outdoor Leadership course is certainly for you.

You will cover many different activities – from paddle sports and mountain biking to rock climbing - during your course, learning everything you need to know to be a professional activity instructor.

You have the added bonus of studying at a college that is home to the fastest growing School of Adventure Studies in the UK. Come and experience the thrill of outdoor sports in the Outdoor Adventure Capital of Scotland.

The course contains a number of theoretical (SQA units) and practical elements (National Governing Body Awards).

There is also a work experience placement from April to early June (8 weeks) with opportunities to gain a placement with major adventure companies, including the possibility of an international placement with UK organisations. Your exact placement will depend on your achievement of awards. Students may have the opportunity of a paid work placement overseas.

During your course, we introduce you to using a range of digital technologies, which will help you get the most from your course and at the same time develop your digital skills.  Find out more about key computing skills and essential student skills

Entry requirements

Students must be 18 years of age by the 1st April in their year of study in order to take up an industry work placement which is a core part of the course and ideally 18 at the start of the course to be eligible to enrol on NGB awards.

You should have at least 3 National 5s or have completed our Outdoor Adventure NQ or equivalent.

  • Candidates should demonstrate competence in the relevant outdoor disciplines equal to those gained in the NQ Outdoor Adventure SCQF level 5 – if not then candidates should consider this course first
  • Students will be required to complete an 8 week work placement. Students must be 18 years of age by the 1st April in their year of study in order to take up an industry work placement which is a core part of the course.
  • Mature students will be considered on merit. 
  • We’ll be inviting you by email to attend course information sessions between now and the start of your course. We’d urge you to come along if at all possible.

Please note that you are required to have a satisfactory Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) check to enable participation in work placement. This will be provided as a mandatory part of your course. Further information can be found here at mygov.scot

Areas for study include:

  • adventure sport performance and coaching
  • personal fitness and exercise
  • leadership and personal development
  • guiding and interpretation
  • industry experience
  • research skills
  • environmental conservation
  • expedition and residential experience
  • work experience and employability
  • embedded development of core and essential skills

The majority of SQA units in this course are at SCQF level 6.

You will also work towards these awards:

  • British Canoeing: Paddlesport Instructor
  • British Canoeing: Personal Performance Awards: Open Canoe, White Water or Sea Kayak
  • British Canoeing: Foundation Safety and Rescue Training/White Water Safety and Rescue
  • British Cycling: Mountain Bike Leadership Award Level 1 or Level 2 Training
  • Climbing Wall Instructor Training
  • Environmental Awards
  • Customer Care and Guide Training
  • Outdoor Specific First Aid Certificate 

Entry to awards is subject to obtaining the required performance standard and log book days.

More than just your subject

Imagine coming out of college with your subject qualification PLUS a portfolio of skills endorsed by employers. That’s exactly what you will get with us. Our skills+ portfolio is part of your full-time course. You will develop skills in digital literacy, entrepreneurship, metaskills, work-readiness, net-zero, wellbeing, and the skills you need for your future aspirations. Our skills+ portfolio becomes your portfolio to take away with you. Whilst studying your subject you will build your skills+ portfolio and gain confidence and resilience along the way.


Internet connection and a suitable device with headphones, microphone and camera (minimum spec) is required. Please email us if you have any concerns about connectivity or equipment.

How will I study my course?

  • Full Time

You normally need to commit to 18 hours per week (2-3 days) of blended learning time consisting of timetabled learning and personal study.

For the practical elements of your course, some of your timetabled learning will take probably place in and around our Fort William College Centre.

How long will my course last?

34 Weeks

Where can I study my course?

    • Fort William
    • Fort William

Start date



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


Students may qualify for bursary funding.

What can I do on completion of my course?

On successful completion of this course, you may be eligible for any of our four degrees or other related course. You could also consider a career as an outdoor activities instructor or adventure guide.

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 progressed onto Outdoor Leadership in Fort William having completed Outdoor Adventure on the Isle of Skye the year before.  I’ve had some of the most amazing opportunities come my way through doing these two courses. I chose Outdoor Leadership as I wanted to learn more and stay within the outdoor and sports environment. I have enjoyed it because it gave me new practical skills and I experienced a lot of personal growth through meeting new people. I have recently found a great passion for climbing and other sports through the college. It’s been amazing to have the opportunity to push myself and develop by getting the knowledge and experience in the sports that I love. 

I would recommend this course because it’s a good environment and there is so much support for all of the students.  

I am now studying BSc (Hons) Adventure Performance and Coaching.

Heather Hepworth

I’m 34 years old. I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2010, with an Honours degree in Zoology. I spent most of 2020 in a locked down flat in Glasgow, which spurred me to get closer to nature and move to the South West Highlands. Since I am now living in a more remote location, I wanted to utilise my surroundings, align my passions with my profession, and officially enter into the outdoor industry. 

This course has acted as a doorway into the outdoor community. I intend to fully commit to becoming an outdoor professional and take my life in the direction I feel it was always meant to go in. 

Not only has the course provided me with skills and qualifications that will aid me in the future, it has also introduced me to relevant people in the industry, and taught me how important it is to interact professionally with those around me. I've discovered a few new sports since joining the course. My favourite is probably White Water Kayaking.  

I think I'll go straight into the industry after I finish this course. I believe it will stand me in good stead to be taken seriously in the outdoor world, without the need for further studying.

Owen Connolly

Apply for Outdoor Leadership SCQF 6 (Fort William) NQ

I want to start in 2023/24
I want to start in 2024/25

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at UHI North, West and Hebrides. UHI North, West and Hebrides 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.