The Scottish Qualifications Authority has launched a new NPA (National Progression Award) qualification in esports for students in Scottish schools and colleges.
The qualification provides an overview of the esports industry. Over the duration of the one-year course, learners will focus on game performance, event management general knowledge of esports.
The development of the qualification comes after interest was expressed by colleges for an award in the topic. After further research with SQA centres, it emerged that 88% of centres surveyed agreed that ‘esports is an emerging and growing industry with considerable interest from learners’.
In a press release, the Scottish Qualifications Authority said the NPA in Esports was ‘developed with sector representation, with an ever-growing industry in mind, looking to provide a pathway into employment and further study and mitigate the risk of a skills-gap in Scotland in the esports sector’.
It’s designed as a starting point for learners who want a career in the esports industry. It’s a mixture of theory and practical work and includes a variety of transferrable skills outside of the esports industry, such as video editing, social media marketing, and teamwork.
After a pilot at Dunoon Grammar School in Argyll and Bute in 2022-23, the NPAs are now available to all schools, colleges and training providers across Scotland, at SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6.
There are currently eight universities in Scotland offering degrees in the gaming sector. Abertay University offers courses including Computer Game Applications Development BSc (Hons), and Game Design and Production BA (Hons). Edinburgh Napier University offers courses including Animation for Games BSc (Hons), and Games Development BSc (Hons), with Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of the Highlands and Islands, and the University of the West of Scotland, also all offering degrees in the sector.
The new qualification comes after the Esports BTEC launched a few years ago by British Esports and Pearson.
The news also comes a few days after there was mixed news in the Scottish games industry, with Esports Scotland responding to community criticism, and the Scottish government backing a new national games strategy.
Paul Gallanagh, Principal Teacher of Business and Computing, who delivers the esports qualification at Dunoon Grammar School, said: “Courses like this are very important to the school curriculum to ensure pathways into further learning, training, and potentially employment are available for all young people. Traditional subjects like maths and science are still really important, but we’ve been really pleased with how many pupils here have engaged positively with this new course.
“In terms of progression, we’re seeing more higher education establishments offer esports degree courses, and there are lots of employment opportunities. The beauty for a rural school like us, is that most people can continue to live in our town while working in this industry.”
Bobby Elliot, Qualifications Manager for Technology, Engineering and Construction at SQA, added: “After completing the NPA, learners can choose to stay on the same pathway and complete a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Diploma (HND) in a similar area, such as Computer Games Development. These qualifications then allow learners to progress onto degrees in the gaming sector offered by Scottish universities.
“We offer a variety of computing and gaming qualifications, which are designed and developed with subject experts and industry to ensure they meet the skills needs of the sector. Going forward, we’re keen to look at plans to offer learners further articulation routes into further study.”
Head of Education at UKIE, Shahneila Saeed, commented: “From a business perspective, the NPA is raising the bar on entry level roles, as well as ensuring a stronger and more diverse talent pipeline which will only help the industry flourish.”
James, an S6 pupil currently taking the NPA at Dunoon Grammar School, said: “The esports qualification is great as it’s opened up esports as a career you can pursue through school which wasn’t possible for me before. It’s great fun and a new course to go along with a fairly new industry.”
Gabriella, an S4 pupil, added: “I’m really enjoying the gaming side but the theory side too, like learning how esports has grown and what happens behind the scenes.”
For more information on SQA’s Computing, Software, and IT qualifications, you can visit sqa.org.uk/computing
Dom is an award-winning writer and finalist of the Esports Journalist of the Year 2023 award. He graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Federation up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and offer esports consultancy and freelance services. Note: Dom still produces the British Esports newsletter on a freelance basis, so our coverage of British Esports is always kept simple – usually just covering the occasional press release – because of this conflict of interest.