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About this course

This blended learning course will enable you to achieve chief mate and master certification by the SQA exam route. 

For the campus phase of the course, you will receive tuition and assessment in HND (Nautical Science) in two Level 5 units: the NAEST and HELM (Management Level) courses. You'll also prepare for the SQA exams in Navigation, and Ship Stability, and MCA oral exams.  

Of the three remaining units, two are completed during the distance learning phase of the course, and one is delivered through blended learning (part distance learning, part completed on campus). 

The distance learning phase (completed immediately before the campus phase) is fully supported through online unit pages and forums, where extensive course material and support is available to all students. Assignments must be submitted online for the distance and blended learning units, while exams are held on campus.  

Once you have achieved the Chief Mate CoC, you must complete 36 months' watchkeeping service while holding an OOW Unlimited II/1 CoC before taking the exam for Master certification. This period may be reduced to 24 months if at least 12 months of such seagoing service has been served as Chief Mate while holding a Chief Mate Unlimited II/1 CoC. 

See career progression chart for this course

What you'll study

Distance learning 

  • HND Level 5 units in Cargo and Port Operations, Law and Management, and part of Bridge and Systems Engineering. 

Term 1 

  • HND Nautical Science Level 5 units in: Passage Planning, and Advanced Ship Stability. 
  • Preparation for SQA exams in Navigation and Ship Stability (undertaken at the end of the first term). 
  • Navigation Aids and Equipment Simulator Training (Management Level) - NAEST(M). 

Term 2 

  • Remaining part of HND Nautical Science Level 5 unit in Bridge and Engineering Systems. 
  • Preparation for MCA Oral exam. 
  • SQA/HND revision sessions leading ro resit opportunities. 
  • Human Element, Leadership and Management (Management Level) - HELM(M). 

Navigation Aids and Equipment Simulator Training (Management Level)

The aim of the training at this level is to maintain safe navigation through the use of radar, automatic radar plotting aids (ARPA), electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS), automatic identification systems (AIS) and modern navigation systems to assist command decision-making and the application of effective bridge resource management principles and procedures. 

At the end of the training, candidates will be able to: 

  • plan a voyage and conduct navigation; 
  • determine position and the accuracy of resultant position fix by terrestrial observations and using modern electronic navigational aids; 
  • maintain safe navigation using information from navigation equipment and systems, including radar and ARPA to assist command decision making; 
  • maintain the safety of navigation using ECDIS and associated navigation systems to assist command decision making; 
  • manoeuvre and handle a ship in all conditions; 
  • coordinate search and rescue operations; and 
  • establish watchkeeping arrangements and procedures. 

MCA Signals exam

All candidates for a deck officer Certificate of Competency at any level must pass an MCA Signals exam covering topics such as transmitting and receiving of Morse Code, identification of signal flags, understanding the single letter meaning of flags, and general communications. 

Tutorials and learning materials are provided as part of this programme, however you must arrange your exam date at your convenience during your time with us. 

Deck revision

This is an independent study option for students wishing to utilise the University's learning resources as part of a personal revision programme to refresh and/or update their professional knowledge. 

This study option includes full access to Solent’s learning resources, including the library, internet access, training software and past MCA question papers. 

Participation in relevant class tutorials or even direct tutorial support can be arranged in advance if required, with associated costs being determined by the level and amount of tutorial support needed. Please discuss your individual requirements with admissions, although you may be referred to a particular lecturer to answer specific queries. 


  • Minimum 12 months' sea service as a watchkeeping deck officer while holding STCW ‘95 Table A II/1 Certificate of Competency (Watchkeeper). 
  • You must hold an STCW certificate in Proficiency in Medical Care. This certificate must be no older than five years. This course can be taken with us outside of the main certification course. 
  • Those who completed the NAEST(O) course prior to 1 January 2005 must have completed an IMO Model 1.27 MCA-approved ECDIS course before undertaking the NAEST(M) course. This course can be taken with us outside of the main certification course. 
  • A valid personal medical fitness certificate recognised by the MCA. 

Apply now

 Distance learning phase  Campus phase  Apply now
 17 February 2020  11 May 2020  Apply now
 6 July 2020  28 September 2020  Apply now

Course Information

  • Next available date


  • Duration


  • Price


  • Approvals


  • Career progression

    Chief mate / master unlimited

  • Prerequisites

    See main course description.

Course availability

Please contact admissions for course availability and to book.

Contact us

Please contact the admissions team if you require more information about this course.

Online bookings will be confirmed with joining information within one working day of the booking being made. Confirmation of payment should be received in the normal way.

Please ensure that you follow the booking process and do not enter payment details more than once, unless you are booking more than one course. If you experience any issues, please email

Admissions Team

Normal office hours are (UK time):

08.30 - 17.00 Monday to Thursday
08.30 - 16.30 Friday

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