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About this course

This fully-sponsored cadet training programme leads to an FdEng Marine Engineering, as well as the award of a UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Certificate of Competency (STCW A-III/I OOW).

Marine engineer officers are responsible for the maintenance and operation of the ship’s main propulsion machinery and auxiliary plant, including deck machinery, air conditioning plants and domestic and electrical services. During your training at Warsash, you'll be taught the necessary academic underpinning knowledge, as well as engineering workshop skills training, allowing you to develop a detailed understanding of the safe operation and maintenance of the engine room and auxiliary machinery of a modern merchant vessel.

You'll complete your academic and mandatory safety training with us. This training is complemented with work-based learning on board ship. You'll also do some practical training during your sea phases, which includes completing a MNTB Training Record Book. This will enable you to develop the professional competency needed for the initial MCA certification as an Officer of the Watch

Officer cadet training schemes typically last for around three years and are split into five phases which alternate between academic studies and practical and safety training, and seagoing periods to gain shipboard experience.

The education and training programme consists of four distinct but complementary elements:

  • Academic education at Warsash in conjunction with work-based learning on board ship to attain the Foundation Degree in Marine Engineering, which provides a direct top-up pathway to the BEng (Hons) Marine Engineering Management.
  • Engineering workshop skills training at Warsash to MNTB-approved standard.
  • Practical training on board ship, including completion of an MNTB Training Record Book. This enables cadets to develop the professional competency needed for initial certification by the MCA.
  • In addition to the academic studies, the MCA requires officer cadets to take a number of safety and survival courses during their cadetship.
  • What you'll study

    Phase 1

    • 20 weeks
    • Freshers’ week and general induction to the shipping industry
    • Assessment for entry to degree programme•STCW pre-sea short courses – six days, covering: PST, BFF, EFA, PSSR, PSA and PDSD
    • High Voltage (Operational) (certificated only) part of Fd
    • Marine Engineering Principles and Workshop Skills Training
    • Foundation Degree (FdEng) Level 4 units (20c each):
    • Engineering Mathematics
    • Marine Electronics and Control Systems
    • Marine Engineering Systems
    • Work-Based Engineering Operations - Launch.

    Phase 2

    • 31 weeks

    Phase 3

    • 34 weeks
    • Foundation Degree (FdEng) Level 4 units (20c each):
    • Marine Engineering Principles
    • General Engineering Science
    • Work-Based Engineering Operations - Submitted.
    • Level 5 units (20c each):
    • Further Engineering Science
    • Marine Electro-Technology
    • Marine Engineering Management
    • Work based Engineering Project - Launch.
    • Workshop Skills Training

    Phase 4

    • 21 weeks

    Phase 5

    • 22 weeks
    • FdEng Level 5 units (20c each):
    • Marine Propulsion Systems
    • Naval Architecture
    • Work based Engineering Project – Submitted.
    • Award of Foundation Degree (FdEng) in Marine Engineering
    • STCW short courses: MFA, AFF, PSC&RB, HELM(O)
    • Workshop Skills Training and MCA orals preparation
    • Successful completion of MCA oral examination leads to award of initial Engineer Officer of the Watch MCA Certificate of Competency and end of cadetship.

    How you'll study

    55% Course work
    44% Written exams
    1% Practical exams

    Where you'll study

    Engineer officer cadet in the classroom

    The classroom teaching and workshop instruction for this course is delivered from Solent University's St Mary's campus, located in Southampton city centre. All mandatory STCW maritime safety training courses are delivered from the Warsash campus.


    Eningeering cadet and lecturer in the Marine Engineering Workshop

    Marine engineering workshops

    Purpose-built and fully-equipped for teaching the use of machine tools, welding and electrical maintenance for marine engineers.

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    Cadets training at the fire school in full gear

    Fire school

    Our purpose built fire school provides a realistic but safe environment in which seafarers can learn the vital techniques of fighting fires at sea.

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    A cadet practicing CPR on a dummy in the medical training centre

    Medical training centre

    The medical centre uses the same type of equipment found on board ships for mandatory medical training for ships' officers.

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    Lifeboat suspended at the end of the pier by the Hamble River

    Pier head and survival craft

    The pier head is used for maritime safety training for seafarers and safety training for those working on offshore installations.

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    How to apply

    Entry requirements

    A minimum of 48 UCAS tariff points (for engineering, including a numerate subject)

    Plus GCSE at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) in the following subjects:

    • Mathematics (preferably Higher Tier)
    • English
    • Science (with significant Physical Science content)

    Medical requirements

    Officer cadets must be in good health and capable of passing the Merchant Navy Medical Examination (ENG1).

    Anyone contemplating a career as a ship’s officer would be well advised to take a medical examination and sight test as soon as possible to find out if there are any physical bars to their career aspirations.

    The MCA holds a list of approved doctors throughout the UK who are able to provide ENG1 seafarer medical examinations. This list can be found here.


    British shipping companies will normally only recruit UK or European Union nationals. However, the MCA certificates of competency may be awarded to people of any nationality and the training programmes are open to all.

    A potential international candidate from outside the UK and EU should secure sponsorship from a suitable shipping company that will be able to provide appropriate sea service as part of the cadetship programme.

    International students should also hold a formal International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate of at least 5.5, as a good knowledge of written and spoken technical English is required to commence the programme.

    Application and sponsorship

    To apply for a foundation degree in marine engineering, you must undertake a three year engineer officer cadet training programme approved by the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) and meet the academic entry requirements as stated.

    The next step is to find a company to sponsor you so you can complete the sea service elements of the training programme. You should apply direct to the sponsoring companies for details of their recruitment policies and the availability of sponsorship.

    There are a number of UK sponsoring companies that recruit UK/EU nationals as officer cadets to work in the various shipping sectors of the merchant navy (for example, cargo, container, cruise, tanker etc.), either individual shipping companies recruiting to fulfil their own staffing needs or training organisations that recruit on behalf of their clients.

    Companies normally start the recruitment process around January each year for entry in the following September or January.

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