Outdoor Leadership NQ Level 6

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. All candidates will attend an interview.

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.

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.

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?

    • Fort William

Start date

Late August/Early September.


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.

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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What our students, graduates and staff say

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.  

My next step is to start one of the UHI degree courses to further my knowledge about the things that inspire me everyday. And I believe that this course has perfectly set me up for the things I want to achieve.  

Heather Hepworth

Overall, I've enjoyed this course so much and I would definitely recommend it as a starting point to anyone thinking about an outdoor career. There’re so many great things about this course that it's hard to narrow down to just a few! Being in Fort William, at the base of Ben Nevis, a monument to the outdoors, is amazing as well as easy access to all the other mountains, rivers and lochs surrounding us.  

For me, the most important thing was getting my NGB’s and having access to all the outdoor clubs. Also, the placement at the end of the year which allows you to put the skills you've learnt in the classroom into practical working environments. I am back on track to getting a career in the outdoors, giving me connections, people to talk to and places to go. I have decided to work for a while but the choice of adventure degrees is wide, whether you're interested in tourism or marine life or even sports science and I would strongly urge you to consider one of these if you plan to continue studying. 

From myself and all of us at the School of Adventure Studies - see you on the mountain! 

Ian Sullivan

Apply for Outdoor Leadership NQ Level 6

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