Rural Skills NC Level 4

What is special about this course?

A fast paced, exciting, enjoyable and very practical multi skills course focusing on rural land practices. Delivers holistic training and includes highly regarded industry awards in several disciplines, equipping you well for a rewarding outdoor job, or going on to more specialist study.

The course aims to take a broad approach, introducing you to many different topics, and with a balance of both practical and theoretical work, you will acquire a good range of skills, with a thorough understanding of how and when they should be applied.

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

No formal qualifications are necessary, however you should have a keen interest in working in the outdoors, and enthusiasm to embrace the practical skills and principles of land use. You must be reasonably fit, happy to work in all weathers, and able to safely follow instruction in the use of tools and machinery. Basic literacy and numeracy is required, and students should be at least 16. Mature students are very welcome. All candidates will attend an interview.

You will investigate areas from habitat studies and gardening to estate maintenance, forestry skills and working with livestock. You will also develop your core and essential skills while in class and at work.

It includes the opportunity to gain valuable industry awards in:

•             dry stone walling,

•             manual handling

•             outdoor first aid

•             tree inspection

•             bat awareness

•             chainsaw operation

•             quad biking

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 place in and around our Broadford College Centre.

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

How long will my course last?

34 Weeks

Where can I study my course?

    • Broadford

Start date



Most students have their course fees paid as this is a full time course. Please read our Fees & Funding information pages for more information regarding residency, previous study and bursary rates. Please contact if you have any further questions.

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), with a term-time address in Scotland, studying full time, the course fee is £5,800.

Some of our courses require students to have essential equipment/clothing.

If you are under 18, you are entitled to have essential equipment paid for whether you are entitled to Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) or not. However you must complete an application even if you know that you're not entitled to EMA.

If you are 18 and over and are eligible for a bursary, these costs will be met through your bursary. If you are not eligible for a bursary, you will need to fund these items yourself.


Students may also qualify for bursary funding.

Further information on course fees & funding can be found here.

What can I do on completion of my course?

This course is highly thought of by relevant organisations and potential employers, many of whom you will work with during your year with us. It sets you in a strong position to move on to rewarding work in a number of fields, and the Industry Awards gained are very important to employers.

Each year some of our students decide to continue to study in more detail, typically undertaking HNCs or HNDs in Horticulture, Forestry, or Conservation. Some courses can be hosted from West Highland College, or delivered in partnership with other Colleges.

Is there more information available online?

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What our students, graduates and staff say

I moved home to my father’s croft on Skye at the start of lockdown. I began to clear ground and plant potatoes and then a build a raised bed for veg. I heard about the Rural Skills course from some friends who had done it.

There is lots to learn and the lecturers have so much knowledge and experience. We cover so much - it’s a taster of many different skills.

A job came up with Broadford and Strath Community Company to be a seasonal grower, establishing and managing a new community poly tunnel, with produce going to the community fridge. I am sure that the skills I have learned on the course helped me to complete an updated CV and make a successful application.

I am loving the course and it’s such an interesting and varied group of people that I study with. I would really recommend it.

Sarah MacInnes

Apply for Rural Skills NC Level 4

We are no longer accepting applications for 2021/22

I want to start in 2022/23

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at West Highland College UHI. West Highland College 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.