Outdoor Adventure NQ Level 5

What is special about this course?

Do you have a sense of adventure that you’d 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 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.


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)

How will I study my course?

  • Full Time

Each week will comprise of scheduled, connected learning 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.  Some flexible learning must be done on a weekly basis. 

Connected learning is when you learn together with lecturers, instructors, students and others. Connected learning happens at a scheduled time in a practical workshop, an online-classroom, a studio, a specialist classroom, the workplace or in the outdoors.

Flexible learning covers lecturer directed learning and self-directed learning.

Lecturer-directed learning is weekly learning activity, for example:
• posting your idea in a discussion forum,
• completing a quiz,
• practising a task, activity or idea
• watching a video or reading,
• discussing and working on a solution with another student,
• researching and gathering information,
• completing an assignment or project-based task.

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 funding.whc@uhi.ac.uk 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 qualify for bursary funding.

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. You could also go straight into employment with your new practical qualifications.

Is there more information available online?

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What our students, graduates and staff say

I was 17 when I left school in Aberdeen. I’d done Duke of Edinburgh award and always enjoyed biking and paddle sports.

I came to Broadford in 2017 to study Outdoor Adventure. It was a good move because I was young, first time away from home and needing to build up my academic and practical skills. We were a small class which meant good friendships were made and lots of support and encouragement from lecturers. I learned the importance of deadlines when studying, how to navigate the UHI online world, achieved several NGB qualifications and built up my confidence.

In 2018 I moved to Fort William to study Outdoor Leadership NQ course and have since chosen one of the degree courses. I want to go the whole way and have an Adventure career.

Sean Mackenzie

Apply for Outdoor Adventure NQ Level 5

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.