Outdoor Pursuits SCQF Level 5

What is special about this course?

This course is designed to give you a grounding in a whole range of outdoor activities to prepare them for progression into outdoor education and leadership. It's highly practical in content and perfect for people who love the outdoors. The course follows seasonal specialist activities and you'll get the chance to build your knowledge and confidence in kayaking, canoeing, gorge walking, mountain biking, rock climbing, orienteering and skiing.

Activities take place in the Highlands including Cairngorms National Park, Glen Affric, the Fannichs, Ben Nevis, Ben Wyvis, the Black Isle, the Moray Coast and on long-distance paths including the Great Glen Way and Speyside Way.

Students also  have the opportunity to set, plan and undertake an expedition of their choice. Previous examples have included cycling the Speyside Way, crossing Scotland by canoe, and remote hiking/camping adventures.

An international ski trip in Europe takes place in January (optional).

During the second semester, you will have the opportunity to develop your leadership skills in an activity of your choice.

You will also work closely with students undertaking our BA (Hons) Outdoor Education and Learning degree, giving you the opportunity to gain an insight into further study. Throughout the course, you will be building log book experience which is a prerequisite for National Governing Body Qualifications e.g. British Cycling Mountain Bike Leader Award or British Canoe Kayaking Star Awards.

Students can also undertake/continue the Duke of Edinburgh Award or Saltire Volunteering Award.

Inverness College UHI works closely with Highlife Highland and there are opportunities for students with National Governing Body Qualifications to can gain holiday employment or shadow outdoor instructors to work towards those qualifications.


Entry requirements

  • Your commitment to outdoor activities should be evident from your personal statement.
  • Three National 4s at a pass is desirable.
  • You might be asked to attend an interview.

This course focuses on practical activities on land and water, including;

  • water based activities - kayaking, canoeing, coasteering and gorge walking;
  • land based activities - mountain biking, rock climbing, hill-walking and orienteering;
  • camp craft and expeditioning - planning journeys, setting a camp, meal planning, leadership, team working;
  • winter based activities - building snow shelters, alpine skiing, winter walking;
  • anatomy and physiology;
  • nutrition and diet;
  • fitness training.

The course also includes core skills contextualised to your outdoor learning:

  • ICT
  • Communication


Through bursary funding, students will be provided with a waterproof jacket and over trousers; rucksack; insulating fleece; and thermal base layer. You will also be given a pair of hill-walking boots. All technical equipment is provided e.g. bikes and helmets, skis and boots, boats and paddles. Students must provide their own hat for the conditions, gloves and eye protection e.g. ski googles/bike glasses.

How will I study my course?

Additional information for course delivery in 2021-22

This course will be delivered by blended learning - a combination of face to face and remote learning. You will attend campus in person two days per week (one of which will be outdoors) and you will access timetabled sessions remotely, via your computer or device, one day per week.
  • Full Time

Face to face.

How long will my course last?

1 Year

Where can I study my course?

    • Inverness Campus

Start date



For the latest information on fees please see our fees policy.

Additional costs

Inverness College UHI subsidises the cost of an annual ski pass for Cairngorm Mountain, however, students may have to pay a proportion.

The international ski trip is an optional extra cost of approximately £600.

If you haven't started the Duke of Edinburgh Award, there is a setup cost of approximately £30

What can I do on completion of my course?

Students who successfully complete this course can progress onto SCQF Level 6 Sport Studies, where you can specialise in outdoor leadership. From there, you can also progress on to our BA (Hons) in Outdoor Education and Learning. Throughout your studies, you will be building log book experience which is a prerequisite for National Governing Body Qualifications.

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 love being outdoors so this course was really attractive. I’ve been into motocross biking since primary school, but this course has enabled me to try so many new things like skiing, mountain biking and climbing. It’s given me the confidence to push myself out with my comfort zone. I’ve never been a big fan of water, but I’ve been coasteering and kayaking and absolutely loved it. I’d love to progress on to the BA (Hons) in Outdoor Education and Learning and eventually become an outdoor instructor," - Teaghan Daley, an NC Outdoor Pursuits student.

"If you know you enjoy being outdoors then this course provides you with a fantastic eye opener into the potential of either working in the outdoors or exploring your passion further," - Nicki Diggins, lecturer in Outdoor Studies.

Apply for Outdoor Pursuits SCQF Level 5

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 Inverness College UHI. Inverness 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.