Working with Communities HNC

Course code 145L

What is special about this course?

This course is suited to anyone working or volunteering with community-based groups, giving you the opportunity to gain a professional qualification in Community Learning and Development (CLD). 

You will learn about: the principles which underpin effective community practice; social science approaches supporting theories of community change; how to adopt and support a range of learning approaches; how to work with community groups (adults and young people); and how to support the development of community capacity.

Providing a local, national, and global view of factors which affect our communities, the course links theory with practice, encouraging you to discuss and share your own experiences through classroom debates. You will gain valuable practical experience by undertaking a placement in a setting relevant to your studies, in either the statutory or the voluntary sector. This will link up to the theory you have learnt, enabling you to share and discuss your hands on experience with your fellow students and deepen your understanding of community practice in action. 

You will explore issues commonly faced by communities, and discover approaches designed to overcome those barriers, supporting community groups to make a positive impact in their local areas. In addition, you will study a wide range of relevant subjects including group work, sociology, principles of community learning and development, approaches to learning, youth work, and managing resources, ensuring that you will be well prepared for degree-level study or further employment in CLD. 

Special features

  • Course structure allows you to fit your studies around other work and life commitments
  • Delivered using our online learning environment so you can study from home or on campus
  • The CLD Standards Council has identified certain values of CLD. These values are integral to your learning and are as follows:
    • Self-determination - respecting the individual and valuing the right of people to make their own choices
    • Inclusion - valuing equality of both opportunity and outcome, and challenging discriminatory practice
    • Empowerment - increasing the ability of individuals and groups to influence issues that affect them and their communities through individual and/ or collective action
    • Working collaboratively - maximising collaborative working relationships in partnerships between the many agencies which contribute to CLD, including collaborative work with participants, learners and communities
    • Promotion of learning as a lifelong activity - ensuring that individuals are aware of a range of learning opportunities and are able to access relevant options at any stage of their life. For more information, please visit the CLD Standards Council website


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

Entry requirements

  • 2 Scottish Highers at grade C or above, preferably including English or English based subjects OR
  • 2 A levels at grade D or above, preferably including English or English based subjects
  • Alternatively, a relevant NC pass at SCQF Level 6
  • Mature students without formal qualifications but with relevant experience may be considered
  • This is a Category 1 PVG course: PVG Scheme membership is required to successfully achieve target qualification, where there is guaranteed contact with vulnerable groups in key elements of the course. For further information visit our PVG scheme webpage


Year 1 - HNC

You will study the following core modules:

  •    CLD principles and practice
  •    Social science approaches
  •    Group work
  •    Personal development planning
  •    Workplace practice
  •    CLD learning approaches
  •    Graded unit
  •    Additional support needs: lifelong learning
  •    Additional support needs: adult learning

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • You will learn through a combination of video-conference lectures and tutorials, and online study via the university's virtual learning environment (VLE), with support from your tutors
  • If you are not already employed in the CLD field, you will undertake a work placement 1 day per week
  • Full-time students will participate in timetabled study for 2 days per week, work or placement setting for 1 day per week, and self-directed study for 2 days per week
  • Part-time students should expect to commit to the same number of hours as the above schedule per fortnight

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 1 years @ 35 hours per week
  • Part-time (structured): 2 years @ 17.5 hours per week

Number of hours per week indicates the total number of hours you should dedicate to the course, which includes time spent in lectures and your own time spent on individual study and research.

Where can I study my course?

  • Shetland

Start date

  • September
  • January


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes

  • EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK,
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with settled status in the UK
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.
Higher National Awards (HNC, HND) 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year £1,285 £1,285
Part-time (per HN credit) £86 £86

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) 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year £7,110 £7,110
Part-time (per HN credit) £474 £474

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:

This includes EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are not self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND) 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year £7,980 £8,775
Part-time (per HN credit) £532 £585

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


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.

Additional costs

You will be expected to meet the travel costs for your work placement.

What can I do on completion of my course?

Students who have successfully completed this course have gone on to careers in:

  • Community learning and development
  • Working with young people
  • Working with adults
  • Supporting community capacity development

Can I progress into further study?

You may wish to progress from HNC Working in Communities to further practice community development at degree level.

Is there more information available online?

QR Code - scan to visit course page

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

Apply for Working with Communities HNC

I want to start in Jan/Feb 2024 or Aug/Sep 2024 or Jan/Feb 2025

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.