Outdoor Adventure NQ Level 5

What is special about this course?

Do you love outdoor adventure? Would you like to share with others by pursuing a career in the great outdoors? Do you love spending time outdoors and the thrill of challenging activities?

This course is aimed at improving your personal competence in a range of outdoor adventure activities based on the Isle of Skye, in a world-class location. You will gain essential practical experience and accelerate your learning in challenging environments. Your study will be 65% practical and 35% theory. The course is part of the School of Adventure Studies, giving unparalleled access to tuition from highly skilled and active adventure-sector practitioners, to guide you on your way in developing sound skills and experience in mountain, river and sea environments. It will prepare you well for a career in the outdoors, covering a range of performance awards as well as the Paddlesport Instructor Award.  We will support you in creating your own outdoor CV and finding a work experience placement that could lead to future employment. 

It also provides a foundation for further academic study and the opportunity to progress to further courses within the School of Adventure Studies.

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 16 years of age at the start of the course.

Applicants should have at least three  National 4s or above or equivalent; a passion for the outdoors (mountain and water environments)and a good level of fitness.

All candidates will attend an interview, and if you do not meet all the entry requirements this can be discussed and your previous experience may still qualify you for entry to this course.

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

The course provides solid foundation skills in hillwalking, navigation (summer and winter), climbing, kayaking, canoeing and mountain biking.  It also offers a chance to try additional activities such as skiing, snowboarding, coasteering and stand-up paddleboarding.

Areas covered:

  • paddle-sports and teamwork
  • mountain sports and leadership
  • mountain biking
  • conservation and volunteering
  • anatomy, physiology, fitness and exercise
  • nutrition, health and wellbeing
  • embedded development of core and essential skills

You will also have the opportunity to obtain awards including:

• British Canoeing: Paddlesport Instructor

• British Canoeing: Paddlesport Explore Award

• British Canoeing:  Foundation Safety and Rescue Training

• HSE Outdoor First Aid (16 Hours)

• John Muir Trust Explore Award

• National Indoor Climbing Wall Achievement Scheme Levels 1 and 2

• Go Mountain Bike Awards

• NNAS Bronze and Silver Awards (navigation)


No equipment needs to be purchased prior to the course starting. During the course all the major and essential items of equipment are provided, but it is helpful if possible to set aside a budget for purchasing your own accessories such as thermal underwear or gloves.

How will I study my course?

  • Full Time

Three practical days and two half-days of classroom time per week.

For the practical elements of your course, some of your timetabled learning will probably 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?

26 Weeks

October to May. 

How will I be assessed?

    A combination of approaches including observation of practical, teamwork and leadership skills, presentations, and written work.

Where can I study my course?

    • Broadford

Start date

25th October 2021


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 funding.whc@uhi.ac.uk 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 qualify for bursary funding. Please contact our admissions team.

What can I do on completion of my course?

Once you’ve completed your course, you might like to consider our NQ in Outdoor Leadership in Fort William, or similar course at SCQF level 6.

NQ Outdoor Adventure develops resilience, confidence, problem solving and teamwork that can lay the foundation for a wide range of careers.  Our graduates have gone on to work in the outdoor sector in a wide range of areas including bushcraft and glacier guiding, but have also put their skills to use progressing to further study and employment in paramedic science, early years education, police, and film-making - to name a few.

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.

What our students, graduates and staff say

I’ve always had an interest in the outdoors specifically cycling and hill walking. I had been considering studying for a couple of years but hadn’t found a course that really interested me until I saw NQ Outdoor Adventure.

I chose Outdoor Adventure because of its location on Skye and the wide range of activities it offers. I’ve really enjoyed my time on Skye because it has pushed me outside my comfort zone and taught me valuable practical skills. For me, the sea kayaking has been a major highlight and it is something I will carry on with. Learning how to enjoy the hills safely and confidently with the skills I have gained has been brilliant.

I’m planning on moving forward with the Outdoor Leadership Level 6 course in Fort William. I certainly feel more confident about pursuing a career in the outdoors. 

Angus McFadyen

I grew up hiking, camping, kayaking and diving on and around the Isle of Skye. I chose this Outdoor Adventure course because I wanted the opportunity to learn essential and invaluable skills, fundamental for the kind of life that I want to pursue. I wanted to try new activities such as mountain biking, sea kayaking, rock climbing and winter mountaineering.

Needless to say… so far It has been great. I have enjoyed improving my biking and sea kayaking and in particular, winter mountaineering. The chance to start building experience in mountaineering was one of the main reasons for choosing this course, and still continues to be one of my most important things that I will take away from it… and to have climbed my first mountain in winter, well that was nothing short of awesome.  

I think this course provides some of the most thorough training opportunities that you will find, for a diverse range of outdoor activities, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to develop their experience, and capabilities in the outdoor environment. I am going to go on to study NQ Outdoor Leadership in Fort William. 

Calumn Mackay

Apply for Outdoor Adventure NQ Level 5

I want to start in 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.