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.

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

Each week will comprise of scheduled, connected training time and flexible learning time. You need to commit to both, but you can choose when to complete flexible learning to fit around work, caring and personal commitments.  

Connected training time is when you learn together with lecturers, instructors, students and others during this practical skills training course.  Training and learning generally happens at a scheduled time in the outdoors although this may also happen in an online-classroom, a specialist classroom or on site visits.

Flexible learning is directed by your lecturer/instructor, and complements the practical skills based training program.  Flexible learning is a regular learning activity, for example:
•    watching a video or reading,
•    completing an assignment or project-based task,
•    completing a quiz,
•    practising a task, activity or idea
•    posting your idea in a discussion forum,
•    discussing and working on a solution with another student,
•    researching and gathering information.

Self-directed learning is your decision about further study and focus.  We encourage you to take ownership of your learning and areas of interest. You can ask us to help you to determine areas for further development.

As and when it is appropriate and safe to do so, your connected learning activity will generally take place in the outdoors. However, during periods of social distancing restrictions, some of your learning may need to be in an online-classroom.  This will include a combination of video conferencing, interactive chat and sharing of presentation slides and other visuals. Online-classrooms provide you with real time interaction, contact and discussion with your lecturer and fellow students.

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.

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

It’s been an absolutely amazing course and I would recommend it.

My family has a croft and I’ve always loved farming, working on the land and looking after sheep and other animals. When I left school I thought this course would be good because I could learn more about something I love and want to be able to do properly.

I like the mixture of practical and classroom activities. We’ve had the chance to do some industry certificates like chainsaw, pesticides, first aid, dry stone walling and quad biking. We also learned all about path building, drainage, fencing and working with power tools. I think I will stay in crofting and work to get the family croft back to how it was in the glory days. I’ll apply for grants for fencing and drainage and hope to build a house. So much that I’ve learned will be useful for me.

Daniel Beckey

Apply for Rural Skills NC Level 4

We are no longer accepting applications for 2020/21

I want to start in 2021/22

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.