Marine Engineering HNC

Course code 206J

What is special about this course?

If you aspire to a career in the Merchant Navy, this HNC in Marine Engineering is the first step towards achieving your goal. The course course covers many different aspects of engineering and as such provides an excellent basis for anyone wishing to become an engineer. It.forms part of the Merchant Navy Cadet Programme for engineering officers. The programme runs over three years, the first year is the NC Shipping and Maritime Operations.

You will be sponsored throughout your training by a shipping company and receive an allowance and support at college, as well as spending a portion of your time onboard ships gaining hands-on marine training.

It is also possible to undertake the HNC as a one-year stand-alone course for which there would be no requirement to spend time at see. For further information please contact NAFC Marine Centre UHI: 

Special features

  • You will gain all the hands-on experience you need to become an engineer cadet
  • You will have financial support throughout your course by way of sponsorship from a shipping company
  • Engineering officer cadets spend a total of at least 8 months on-board a Merchant Navy vessel during their 3 year cadetship
  • Ship and local company visits are undertaken during the course to enable you to see engineering in action


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

Year 1 of the Cadet Programme:

  • You should normally have a minimum of four National 5, Standard Grade or GCSE passes at Grade C/3 or above, including English, Mathematics and a science based subject
  • Other relevant qualifications or experience will be considered on an individual basis
  • You will be required to undergo a medical and fitness test.
  • You must be sponsored by the industry (Merchant Navy), be resident and have had residency in the UK for at least 36 months, be a national of the UK or an EU member state, and hold a UK or EU member state passport.

Direct access to the HNC:

  • You should normally have a National Certificate in Engineering (SCQF level 6) or at least two Higher passes at Grade C or above, one of which should be Mathematics or a Physical Science
  • Other equivalent qualifications and/or relevant experience may also be accepted

Access routes

  • NC in Maritime Operations

Year 1 - HNC

Mandatory units are:

  • Engineering drawing
  • Marine engineering: auxiliary thermodynamic principles
  • Marine engineering: dynamics and machines
  • Marine engineering: electrical and electronic devices
  • Marine engineering: electrical motors and generators
  • Marine engineering: graded unit 1
  • Marine engineering: naval architecture
  • Marine engineering: propulsion
  • Marine engineering: ship construction

Option units may include:

  • Fundamentals of control systems
  • Marine engineering auxiliary systems
  • Safety engineering and the environment

How will I study my course?

Additional information for course delivery in 2021-22

From September 2021, it is our intention that physical campuses will be open to all students for access to study facilities, support services and social activities, subject to Scottish Government guidance. Our priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students and staff. We will continue to review government guidance as restrictions shift and will inform you of any further changes to the information provided below about your course. You will study the course through our blended learning approach. From September, where practical and safe to do so, on-campus practical delivery will be prioritised in line with the Scottish Government guidance, including social distancing, where this is not possible alternative options will be available. The theory elements will primarily be delivered online through a combination of tutor-supported study, video-based seminars and self-directed study using the university's virtual learning environment. You can access your online and video-based classes from home however it is our intention to provide on-campus space for individual students where required as far as possible. Further information will be provided by your home campus. You will have an opportunity to attend an online induction at the start of the course.
  • Full-time
  • You will study your course by way of classroom-based lectures and tutorials, and practical hands-on experience in the fully equipped workshops and labs at NAFC Marine Centre UHI

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 1 year

Where can I study my course?

  • NAFC Marine Centre UHI

Start date

  • September


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes

  • EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK,
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with settled status in the UK
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.
Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £1,285 £1,285

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and with a term time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £6,720 £6,915

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK and EU students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living while studying.

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK, including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled or pre-settled status in the UK, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are not self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2020-212021-22
Full-time per year £7,020 £7,230


External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact NAFC Marine Centre UHI for more information.

What can I do on completion of my course?

Further studies and exams will lead to a role as a Second/Chief engineer following sea service as an Engineering Officer of the Watch or positions such as

  • Engineering Officer of the Watch on a Merchant Navy Vessel
  • Shore-based engineer
  • Shipping related shore-based position

Is there more information available online?

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What our students, graduates and staff say

"I'm really enjoying studying at NAFC Marine Centre UHI. The small class sizes mean we get one-to-one teaching from lecturers and all the personal help and support we need. The teaching staff are very experienced and enthusiastic, making for a fantastic learning experience."

Liam Cumming, Merchant Navy Cadet Programme, NAFC Marine Centre UHI

"When I was 13, I heard about the cadet programme from a friend. I knew that was what I wanted to do. At 17, after six months studying, I joined my first ship in Galveston, Texas. The college phases are great and the lecturers are very supportive. I was around the world by the age of 19 and now at 20 I'm heading back to sea as a qualified engineer. It's a great way to see the world! I won't say it's easy - study can get difficult but having the right attitude to it will get you through a lot of challenging points. Without this study I could not have become an officer of the watch."

Bryden Jacobson, Merchant Navy Cade Programme graduate, NAFC Marine Centre UHI campus.

Apply for Marine Engineering HNC

Please contact us to discuss application to this course.

NAFC Marine Centre

Port Arthur

Tel: (01595) 772000


We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.