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About this course

This fully-sponsored cadet training programme leads to a HND Marine Engineering, as well as the award of a UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Certificate of Competency (STCW’95 III/I OOW).

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

The training consists of five distinct but complementary elements:

  • A higher education entry course, designed to prepare new entrants for study at HND level.
  • Engineering workshop skills training at our St Mary's campus to MNTB-approved standard.
  • Academic education to attain the HND in marine engineering and satisfy the underpinning knowledge (UPK) requirements for the IAMI written exams.
  • 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

    • 27 weeks
    • Freshers’ week and general induction to shipping industry
    • HE Entry Course:
    • Mathematics
    • Intro to Electrics for Marine Engineers
    • Intro to Ship Construction and Stability
    • Intro to Marine Engineering
    • Intro Marine Legislation
    • Intro Applied Mechanics
    • Intro Applied Heat
    • Fundamentals of IT and Communication Skills.
    • Successful completion of the HE Entry Course leads to the award of: Certificate in Marine Engineering
    • MNTB Workshop Skills and Technology
    • STCW pre-sea short courses – six days, covering: PST, BFF, EFA, PSSR, PSA and PDSD

    Phase 2

    • 28 weeks

    Phase 3

    • 32 weeks
    • HND Level 4 units (20c each):
    • Engineering Mathematics
    • Marine Electronics and Control Systems
    • Marine Engineering Systems
    • Marine Engineering Principles
    • General Engineering Science
    • Marine Engineering Operations
    • MNTB Workshop Skills; IAMI EK and MCA oral examination preparation
    • STCW short courses: HELMO(O) and MFA

    Phase 4

    • 30 weeks

    Phase 5

    • 34 weeks
    • STCW short courses: AFF, PSC&RB, HV(O)
    • Completion of MNTB Workshop Skills
    • Preparatory courses for IAMI EK and MCA oral examinations
    • HND Level 5 units (20c):
    • Marine Propulsion Systems
    • Naval Architecture
    • Marine Engineering Management
    • Further Engineering Science
    • Marine Electro-Technology
    • Engineering Project Portfolio
    • Successful completion of IAMI EK/MCA oral examinations leads to the award of the initial Engineer Officer of Watch MCA Certificate of Competency.
    • Successful completion of all HND academic assessments provides full academic exemptions up to chief engineer level and leads to the award of Higher National Diploma (HND).

    How you'll study

    57% Course work
    40% Written exams
    3% Practical exams

    Where you'll study

    Engineer cadet under instruction from a technician in the engineering workshops

    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

    Four GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C), including:

    • Mathematics (preferably Higher Tier)
    • Science (with significant Physical Science content)
    • English or a subject using English (for example, history, geography, RE)


    • Passes in four subjects in the Scottish Certificate of Education (as above)


    • Passes in four subjects in the Northern Ireland Grammar School Senior Certificate Exam (as above)The qualifications detailed above are the industry minimum, but individual companies may require a higher standard.

    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 an HND 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 that 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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