Borders College

Educating the 21st Century Gamekeeper


Borders College, Land-based Campus is located in the heart of the Scottish Borders in the small market town of Newtown St Boswells and offers a variety of nationally recognised qualifications in Gamekeeping including the new National Certificate (NC) in Gamekeeping.

Students study at the Newtown St Boswells Campus and use the nearby, quality sporting estate, Riddell where they also have a fully equipped classroom come workshop and a small hatchery unit.

Alan Tweedie the Gamekeeping course tutor enjoys teaching in this environment - “You can be discussing game habitat, looking at images in the classroom, open the door and walk on to our 1000 hectare lowland shoot and experience firsthand what we had just been discussing.”

The teaching areas reflect the practical nature of these courses, Garry Dickson, firearms lecturer uses both Riddell Estate and local clay pigeon shooting facilities at Braidwood to instruct the safe use of shotguns and sporting rifles.

Being in the Scottish Borders gives students a fantastic opportunity to study both lowland/upland grouse and lowland deer stalking. This experience is complimented by residential trips to Red Deer forests in the north of Scotland as well as attending SHN deer best practice events held annually.

The new National Certificate (NC) in Gamekeeping is a Scottish Qualifications Authority Award and has been developed to teach our potential Gamekeepers of the future best practice while giving them a broad spectrum of game and wildlife management skills required by the sector. The NC enables student’s to progress to the Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Gamekeeping with Wildlife Management or, if the student gains full-time employment, to a Modern Apprenticeship (MA) Scheme at level 2. To undertake a Modern Apprenticeship, students must be in full- time employment where they will be visited regularly by the MA assessor who will support them, along with their employer, to continue with their education and completion of this valuable work based qualification.

Both the NC and HNC courses combine theory and practical sessions, with a great emphasis on work experience. Teaching and placement for both these programmes are split into 3 week blocks in college and then 3 weeks out on placement. The work placement period is a very important aspect of both the NC and HNC Gamekeeping courses. It gives students the opportunity to experience all the seasonal activities a gamekeeper undertakes over the 36 week academic period and gives our students invaluable contact with possible future employers. The College has excellent relationships with the gamekeeping and wildlife management sector and work in partnership with a network of sporting estates though out Scotland as well as the wider United Kingdom.

A large number of students who apply for one of our gamekeeping courses have already identified a work placement on an estate of their choice which suits their career path be it Lowland, Deer or Upland Grouse. However, students who have not yet identified or secured a work placement opportunity will be given every assistance by the Course Tutor and College’s Work Placement Officers to identify and arrange a suitable placement to compliment their study.

Subjects covered within the Gamekeeping programmes include Health and Safety, Work Experience, Pest and Predator Control, Shoot Day Skills, Safe Use of Shotguns and Sporting Rifles, Quarry Species, Game Meat Hygiene, and Deer Biology as well as an Introduction to Public Relations, Grouse and their Habitat, Game Bird Rearing and Wildfowl Shooting and Habitat. General subjects such as Numeracy, Information and Communication Technology are also important and run alongside the practical subjects.

Gamekeeping courses at Borders College also offer the opportunity to experience overseas work experience and study within the European Union. With funding support through the Leonardo da Vinci Mobility Programme, the College has, over the last 9 years, been successful in developing international links with employers in a number of EU countries. This provides an innovative opportunity for students to enhance their learning and work experience by enabling them to travel, stay, work and learn with a variety of private and commercial European sporting estates. Students have undertaken work placement within counties such as Belgium and Sweden and more recently the College has further developed opportunities to enhance game and wildlife management experience with specific partnership activities in Sweden.

Overseas work placement is available at two points within the academic year and is designed to fit in with, and compliment, the delivery of their chosen course as well as seasonal game activities in Scotland. The May option enables students to gain a different view of gamebird rearing and habitat management while the October option allows students to experience the unique hunting which takes place, particularly on Swedish sporting estates where they participate in hunting game species such as Moose and Boar, as well as learning the larder work associated such big game species.

Students work alongside both Swedish gamekeepers and other estate personnel while on these placements to further develop their technical skills and learn valuable new skills. Living and working in another country also has the added benefit of further developing interpersonal skills and self-confidence. Many of our past students have gained employment in France, Belgium and Sweden and this we are sure is in no small part due to the skills, knowledge and experience gained whilst studying game and wildlife management at Borders College. This particular initiative has been recognised nationally and the College was awarded the Scottish Qualification Authority’s International Award recently in recognition of the unique opportunities it offers students.

Education is vital within the industry and with more and more people using the countryside for recreational activities, Borders College is committed to providing our next generation of gamekeepers and land managers with the skills and knowledge they will require to further support and develop this growing sector. Students are at the heart of everything we do at Borders College and with excellent teaching practice, knowledgable staff and fit for purpose practical surroundings they excel in their chosen fields. Success rates at Borders College are the best in Scotland with more students successfully achieving their qualifications than any other College of its type in Scotland.1

In addition to our full-time course programmes, Borders College offers a range of relevant part-time and short courses which have been developed to meet the needs of the gamekeeping and land management industry in terms of legislative, health and safety and personal development requirements. Examples include:

  • All Terrain Vehicles (sit in and sit astride)
  • Rabbit and Mole Control
  • Chainsaw Operation (2 day and 4 day courses)
  • Deer Stalking Certificate Level 1
  • Rabbit and Fox Control by Snaring Accreditation Certificate

For more information on any of the gamekeeping and land-based courses including the full range of industry specific short-courses offered by Borders College, please visit or call the Advice Centre Tel: 01896 662516. For more specific information on the Gamekeeping courses please contact Andy Winwood email:

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Published: Mon 4th Feb, 2013