Overview top

Phase 1 - College phase covering the STCW basic safety training and delivery of Diploma in Shipping and Marine Operations. Duration - about 21 weeks.

Phase 2 - Sea Service during which the cadet collects evidence for their MNTB training record book. Duration - about 32 weeks.

Phase 3 - College phase during which the HNC (Adv Cert) Nautical Science is delivered and MCA SQA written exam preparation and examinations and MCA signals exam are taken. Duration - about 26 weeks.

Phase 4 - Sea Service during which practical skills are acquired and MNTB training record book evidence is completed. Duration - about 50 weeks.

Phase 5 - College phase. MCA oral exam preparation and mandatory short courses, including NAEST Ops, GMDSS, Medical First Aid and Advanced Fire Fighting. Duration - about 14 weeks.

Phase 6 (additional/optional) - College phase. Delivery of HND (Adv Dip) Nautical Science programme. Duration - about 24 weeks.




Entry Requirements top

The minimum entry qualifications for Diploma / Higher National courses are:

  • GCSE entry: GCSE passes in four subjects at grade C / 5 or better including Mathematics, a Physical Science, English or a subject which makes use of English such as History and one other.
  • Or National Certificate/Diploma: in appropriate subjects (Engineering or Science)
  • Or Qualifications equivalent to this level and discipline, which must include either GCSE pass at grade C / 5 or better in English OR International English language Testing Services (IELTS) grade 5.0 or higher

Assessment top

For the Higher National Certificate and Diploma the assessment is college based, with the MCA 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.  The MCA oral examination is carried out by MCA surveyors.

Professional Opportunities top

Further periods of sea service and study lead to the award of the MCA Chief Mate Certificate of Competency and then Master Certificate of Competency qualifying the holder to serve as Master of a Merchant vessel.

Further Information top

If you join us as a cadet, you'll be sponsored by a shipping company. Shipping companies recruit suitable candidates as potential deck officers. They will support you through your training and pay you a salary or allowance during the training period.  A full list of shipping and training companies can be found on the MNTB and Careers at Sea websites.

Health: Candidates must be able to pass a medical examination (normal good health) and an eyesight test (colour and form)

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


Dates & Fees

Contact us for current course dates and fees.