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About the course

Are you passionate about engineering? Do you want to use your skills in an exciting and varied environment? Training as an engineer officer cadet in the UK’s Merchant Navy will offer you the chance to travel the world while gaining valuable academic and practical engineering knowledge on a fully sponsored three-year marine engineer officer cadet programme at the world-renowned Warsash Maritime Academy.

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 Maritime Academy and seagoing periods to gain practical shipboard experience.

To enrol on an officer cadet training scheme, candidates apply directly to shipping companies, not through UCAS. This is because officer cadet training is fully sponsored by the shipping company, covering course fees and also providing the means for gaining the mandatory work-based learning on board ship. Cadets will often also receive a small salary or living allowance while they are training.

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 their training at Warsash, engineer cadets are taught the necessary academic underpinning knowledge, as well as engineering workshop skills training, allowing them to develop a detailed understanding of the safe operation and maintenance of the engine room and auxiliary machinery of a modern merchant vessel.

This course has been accredited by a professional body.
Professional accreditation
This course has access to Solent's specialist facilities.
Specialist facilities
You can apply direct to Solent University for this course.
Apply direct
After successfully completing your studies, there's an opportunity to continue your studies at Solent.
Further studies
If you apply for this course with a sandwich year, you have the opportunity to undertake a year in industry between your second and third years.
Sandwich year

Officer cadet training is fully sponsored by shipping companies and candidates should apply directly to shipping companies for sponsorship. The training scheme is accredited by the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and administered by the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB).

What does this course lead to?

This programme will lead you to employment as a certified watchkeeping engineering officer on board a commercial (merchant) ship.

Who is this course for?

This fully-sponsored training programme is a must for those who wish to become a marine engineer officer in the Merchant Navy. The course is suited to those who are looking for an interesting and varied career, and is ideal for those with strong engineering and analytical skills.

Facts and figures

Fees icon

Fees and costs

Tuition fees

Successful applicants will have their course fees paid and be provided a training allowance by the UK sponsoring companies throughout their training.

For further information, please visit our tuition fees page.

Bursaries and scholarships

Solent University offers a range of bursaries and scholarships that provide financial assistance or waive fees for tuition or accommodation. Each bursary or scholarship has specific eligibility criteria. Check out our bursaries and scholarships pages to find out more.

Graduation costs

For graduates in 2020, there is no charge to attend graduation, but you will be required to pay for the rental of your academic gown (approximately £45 per graduate, depending on your award). You may also wish to purchase official photography packages, which range in price from £15 to £200+. Graduation is not compulsory, so if you prefer to have your award sent to you, there is no cost. Extra guest tickets will go on sale after results publication and will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis. The cost per ticket was £15 in 2019, but this fee is subject to change for future years. Please note, we do not guarantee there will be any extra tickets available to purchase.
Key entry requirements icon

Key entry requirements

  • A numerate subject or national engineering award at level 3.
  • GCSE grade 4 or above in at least mathematics, English and science, plus one other (previously grade C).
  • Entry to this course is through a sponsored cadetship; please see the Warsash Maritime Academy website for details.
  • For further information about UK, EU and international qualifications, please refer to our course entry requirement statement

English language requirements

Applicants who do not have English as their first language will be required to demonstrate an approved level of proficiency in the use of the English language. The agreed minimum requirements for this course are:

  • IELTS minimum 6.0 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each individual component
  • TOEFL IBT minimum 80 with a minimum of 19 in each individual component
  • or equivalent.

Qualifications are checked before enrolment, and international students must bring their original certificates or certified copies when coming to study at the University.

The University also offers a pre-sessional English programme for international students who wish to improve their level of English before starting a degree course.

Study location

Warsash Maritime Academy

Got a question about this course?

Contact our Ask Solent team: 023 8201 5015

How to apply

To apply for a foundation degree in marine engineering, you must undertake a three year Engineering Officer Cadet Training programme (Officer Cadetship) 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.

How to apply 

What you'll study

Year one

  • Mathematics
  • Marine Electrics
  • Marine Engineering Principles with Work-based Learning
  • Marine Auxiliaries
  • Engineering Management Systems and Legislation (Operational)
  • Materials Science
  • Mechanics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Introduction to Electronics, Instrumentation and Controls

Year two

  • Further Mathematics
  • Advanced Marine Electrics
  • Further Mechanics
  • Further Thermodynamics
  • Marine Propulsion (Motor)
  • Marine Propulsion (Steam)
  • Naval Architecture with Work-based Learning 
  • Work-based Engineering Project 
  • Instrumentation and Controls Principles
  • Engineering Management Systems, Resources and Legislation (Managerial)


Web-based learning

Solent's virtual learning environment provides quick online access to assignments, lecture notes, suggested reading and other course information.

The Student Hub

The Student Hub is a central space where you can access all of the information and support you need during your time at University.

Professional and experienced staff can help resolve any query, and if they cannot answer the question themselves they will find the person who can.

Career support

Meet the course team

Maarten Herman academic profile Maarten Herman Lecturer View profile

The university cannot guarantee any particular members of staff will teach specific aspects of the course in the future, but will endeavour to ensure the teaching team maintains their balance of experience and qualifications.


Warsash Maritime Academy has a full range of industry-leading training facilities including an engineering workshop with facilities for bench/hand fitting, use of machine tools, welding, marine power plant and electrical maintenance. Engineer officer cadets spend around 450 hours in the workshop, where they can learn and develop their practical workshop skills, such as use and care of hand tools, drilling machines, lathes and welding.

The programme is built around work-based learning with cadets spending time away at sea during their training, on two sea phases and cadets train at the world-renowned Warsash Maritime Academy.

Your future

Suitable roles for graduates include:

  • Merchant Navy engineer officer
  • Project management
  • Engineering technical assistant
  • Field support engineer
  • Systems engineer
  • Plant operator/supervisor
  • Shore-based ship operations
  • Maritime administration.

Industry links

Warsash Maritime Academy is a world leader in maritime education and training, with close links to the marine industry. The extensive professional experience of academic staff ensures that the course draws on real-world case studies and equips you with practical, readily applicable knowledge and skills.


As part of the sponsored merchant navy officer cadetship you will carry out training at sea on your sponsoring company’s vessels.

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