Overview top

The HNC element of the course broadly consists of two 12 week modules. At the end of the module 2 students will attempt the external MCA SQA Examinations.

The subjects studied are:

  • Celestial Navigation
  • Marine Meteorology
  • Bridge Watchkeeping
  • Navigational Mathematics and Science
  • Ship Construction
  • Chartwork and Tides
  • Ship Stability
  • Marine Cargo Operations
  • Emergency Response and Communications
  • Marine Law and Management and Nautical Science Graded Unit 1.

Preparation for MCA Orals and (UK) Human Element Leadership and Management (HELM-O) are also included. After the HNC, two short-courses will be studied:

1. (UK) Navigation, Radar and ARPA Simulation (NAEST-O)

2. (UK) Efficient Deck Hand (EDH) - A steering Certificate is also required to hold this qualification The programme will complete with an orals preparation course after which the candidate will attend an MCA Orals Examination.

The above two courses are part of the programme and candidates will automatically be enrolled on to these courses.  

In addition to the above, candidates must be in possession of the following short course certificates before the Certificate of Competency is used by the MCA.

  1. GMDSS General Operators Certificate
  2. STCW Advanced Fire Fighting
  3. STCW Medical First Aid Onboard Ship

These are not part of the course of study and it is reccommended that you complete these courses before commencing the full programme. 

Entry Requirements top

The Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) regulations require a candidate:-

1. To be not less than 19 years of age

2. To have at least 36 months of qualifying sea service in an acceptable deck capacity with testimonials which show that at least 6 months have been spent on bridge duties.

3. To have discharge book entries verifying sea service.

A candidate who does not have a discharge book will need to obtain documentation from their shipping company verifying their sea service It is the responsibility of candidates to ensure that all entry requirements for the course and the issue of a Notice of Eligibility (NoE) by the MCA are met prior to attending the course. For sea time assessment a candidate may long onto the MCA's website www.mcga.org.uk

Assessment top

For the Higher National Certificate the assessment is college based, with the Signals examination carried out in the college by approved MCA examiners. The MCA SQA written examinations are externally moderated and are hosted within the college.

Further Information top

To apply for this course, please download and complete relevant application/deposit form:

  • EU Applicants - link to application / deposit form
  • Non EU Applicants - link to application / deposit form

If a place is available on the course you have chosen, a letter of acceptance will be issued if you are a home student. If you are an overseas student an electronic CAS REFERENCE will be generated, which you should use for immigration purposes, as required. If a Letter of Acceptance/CAS REFERENCE is used the deposit will then become non-refundable, but it may be transferred to a different course date in special circumstances.

To book please complete an Application Form and return it to the college. Alternatively you can e-mail nautical.studies@stc.ac.uk for more information.

For EU students a £500 deposit is required and a deposit of £1000 for Non EU students to reserve your place on the course (subject to availability). For overseas students full payment will be required before a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) will be issued.

Please see below a link for overseas students which will enable you to calculate how much it will cost to study in the UK - http://www.studentcalculator.org.uk/international/index.asp

Any fees paid by Bankers Draft should be made payable to Tyne Coast College.

Accommodation is available in the college at Dr Winterbottom Hall or in private lodgings. For full details please refer to the separate information sheet or contact Dr Winterbottom Hall. Telephone: +44 (0)191 427 3666, E-mail: DWH@stc.ac.uk


The South Shields Marine School team in the Deck Officer Certification School are busy making preparations for the start of your programme in September/October 2020.

Covid-19 has challenged the delivery of professional programmes, but here at South Shields Marine School we have developed our professional standards for academic delivery with an effective approach to your programme of study which includes safe face-to-face teaching. This involves careful timetabling to dedicate each group (bubble) to a single classroom to prevent excessive movement and contact with others. Hand sanitiser and face coverings (masks) will be provided. Start times, coffee breaks, lunch and end times will be staggered as far as possible. Classroom windows will be open to increase fresh air flow.

Should there be a re-introduction of restrictions by the Government then we are also prepared to continue to deliver your programmes remotely.

The Curriculum Leaders remain active and will be meeting you during the first week to say hello, along with all of the lecturing team who will guide your learning and help with your assessments.  

In the coming months before commencing your studies please contact the marine administration office if we can offer any further guidance before joining us:

Marine admin office details contact email / telephone number:


Sam Morgan or Lucy Howlett for deck cadet enquiries:


t: 0191 427 3930



t: 0191 427 3695


Fiona Thomson or Natalie Todd for OOW or Chief Mate enquiries:

e: nautical.studies@stc.ac.uk

t: 0191 427 3592/3616

Dates & Fees

Contact us for current course dates and fees.