School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

FdSc Navigation and Maritime Science

This exciting foundation degree will set you on course for a successful career as a maritime professional in the global maritime sector. Opt to follow a two year programme designed for students wishing to pursue a career in shore based maritime management; or follow an accredited three year programme that includes a year working at sea, and gain internationally recognised qualifications for professional seafarers in the merchant navy, yachting or superyacht industries.

You will immerse yourself in the latest technology; we've equipped our Marine Navigation Centre with an advanced full mission ship simulator and the latest in electronic charts. You’ll develop the practical, communication and problem-solving skills employers are looking for. You’ll experience life at sea first hand as trainee officers to gain practical experience from a seagoing placement year.

Opportunities available...

A course specific scholarship scheme is available: for more information see the 'Fees, costs and funding' section below.


Excellence Schemes:  we may make you a personalised offer if you are a strong candidate - visit our webpage for details.

Key features

  • Lay strong foundations for a successful career in the maritime sector. Join successful graduates who have gone on to work in a diverse range of maritime industries and professions such as professional navigator, marine manager and yacht racer.
  • Distinguish yourself with a degree that’s accredited by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, as well as the Merchant Navy Training Board.*
  • Immerse yourself in the latest technology; we've equipped our Marine Navigation Centre with an advanced full mission ship simulator and the latest in electronic charts.
  • Gain hands-on experience from the outset by learning to navigate our dedicated 13 metre sail and navigation training vessel 'Take The Helm' on Plymouth Sound. If qualified and approved, you'll be able to skipper her yourself.
  • Ensure you have the practical, communication and problem-solving skills employers are looking for with a mixture of lectures, tutorials, and practical’s featuring group and individual problem-based learning; case studies; debate and critiques; oral and visual presentations; field work; and professional development planning.
  • Gain sponsorship from shipping companies or training organisations, looking to train the next generation of professional seafarers. Sponsorship can become available to students already following our programme.   
  • Study this accredited degree as a sponsored student and receive funding towards tuition fees and living expenses from the sponsoring company, while you study. 
  • Experience life at sea first hand as trainee officers to gain practical experience from a seagoing placement year.
  • If you are not sponsored you can still follow an accredited trajectory into a professional seafaring career. Many of our students wish to work as officers in the superyacht industry, where qualified officers are increasingly in demand.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In your first year, you’ll engage with the foundations of marine operations, meteorology and navigation techniques, including use of our ship simulator and sail training vessel. You’ll also develop your navigation, leadership and management skills in a challenging field week, which is essential for future maritime leaders.

    Sponsored students will spend the summer of this year at sea.

    Core modules
    • BPIE116 Stage 1 Navigation Placement Preparation

      This module is aimed at students who may be undertaking an industrial placement in the third year of their programme. It is designed to assist students in their search for a placement and in their preparation for the placement itself.

    • NMS101 Coastal Navigation

      This module introduces and develops position determination methods, and the basics of safe navigation practice. This module will be delivered using a mixture of lecture practical and tutorial activities.

    • NMS102 Marine Operations

      This module provides an introduction to the knowledge required to participate in all aspects of both cargo operations and operational procedures on a merchant vessel.

    • NMS103 Voyage Planning and Meteorology

      This module provides an introduction to the factors affecting the planning of coastal and ocean passages. The external meteorological factors will be considered alongside the impact this will have on the planning of the passage.

    • NMS106 Management and Leadership 1

      This module enables the student to start developing their own learning agenda via a personal development plan. It will introduce the concept of management skills, in particular bridge team management, and how effective application improves the safety of ships. The regulatory framework which encourages same will also be introduced.

    • NMS107 Accreditation 1

      This module provides the means to record achievement of the standard set by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) for the issue of a certificate of competency in accordance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) as periodically amended.

    • NMS108 Field and Professional Skills

      A practical module including work-based or fieldweek elements developing navigation/safe working practice and management and leadership method and techniques

    • NMS109 Marine Techniques

      This module will help equip the student with the essential skill for study in higher education. Effective library and internet use and basic investigation and research skills will be developed. Writing and presentation skills and methods will be developed in parallel to enable effective communication of concepts, ideas and research.

  • Year 2
  • In your final year, you’ll advance your navigation skills, learn about position determination, including celestial navigation, as well as ship construction, stability and cargo operations, and get to grips with the latest satellite position and timing systems. A sailing-based field week helps you put your navigation, leadership and management skills into practice, contextualising your theoretical work.

    Students following the accredited pathway now return to sea for another year of sea time on board working ships, gaining the experience and the skills required to be an effective ships officer, before returning to university for the final courses and preparations leading to the award of professional certificates of competency.

    Core modules
    • BPIE216 Stage 2 Navigation Placement Preparation

      This module is aimed at students who may be undertaking an industrial placement in the third year of their programme. It is designed build on the Level 1 module (BPIE116) and to assist students in their search for a placement and in their preparation for the placement itself.

    • NMS201 Voyage Planning and Collision Avoidance

      This module focuses on the development of strategies to enable the vessel to maintain track and avoid collision. A study of the technology and techniques involved together with their application will be undertaken. This will enable the student to develop a watchkeeping skill set appropriate for the navigation of a wide range of vessels.

    • NMS202 Marine Operations and Construction

      This module will provide the student with an introduction to how ships and yachts are designed and constructed, including a study of propulsion (wind and power), steering systems and stability.

    • NMS203 Law

      This module will provide the theory and practice relating to the responsibilities and liabilities associated with the management and operation of merchant ships and the carriage of goods by sea.

    • NMS204 Management and Leadership 2

      This module will develop the students' knowledge of management techniques, on a number of levels. These include mission critical management of search and rescue scenarios, contingency planning and emergency management, through to day to day management practice including budgetary planning.

    • NMS205 Field and Professional Skills 2

      Enable the student to complete a portfolio of learning and training. Credit will be gained by proving application of taught underpinning knowledge via a navigation and operations workbook, and academic skills enhanced by analysis and reflective practice of topics specific to the environment within which the student is working.

    • NMS207 Ocean Navigation

      To develop an appreciation of the navigation methods used in ocean passage-making.

    • NMS208 Accreditation 2

      This module provides the means to record achievement of the standard set by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) for the issue of a certificate of competency in accordance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) as periodically amended.

  • Year at sea
  • This year is a chance to go to sea. If you’re sponsored, you’ll follow a structured programme with your sponsoring company; alternatively, it’s an opportunity for yachtsmen or women to build miles and gain valuable industrial experience. Put your newly acquired skills to the test on a real ship or yacht, and benefit from the experience of those around you. This year is optional: if you’re already qualified or are progressing to a shore-based management career, you can go straight to the final year.

    Optional modules
    • BPIE337 Navigation and Maritime Science-related Placement

      This year is an opportunity to work in a maritime industry. It helps to build your knowledge, experience, CV and ultimately your employability.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

FdSc Navigation and Maritime Science programme specification 4494

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff


To include a grade E at a relevant science subject (Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics, Design Technology, Applied Science, Geography, Engineering, Geology, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Psychology), excluding general studies.

BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: PPP in a relevant subject.

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

Pass science related Access course. Must have GCSE English and Maths grade C/4 or above or equivalent

International Baccalaureate: 24 points overall to include 4 at Higher Level science. 

GCSE: mathematics and English language grade C.

An interview may be required. Equivalent qualifications will be considered.

Non UK residents will need to obtain sponsorship from their own national fleet subject to Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) approval.

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2019 2020
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International £13,400 £13,800
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

The Plymouth Navigator Scholarship

Up to £1,000. Navigation and maritime science students are automatically paid £500/£250 for an A / B in Mathematics A level and/or one further sum of £500/£250 for an A / B in a relevant science subject including A level Geography or Psychology. This is awarded to home/EU applicants who put us as their firm choice before the 1 August 2020. The scholarship is paid during the first semester of the first year.

There are additional prizes and awards to reward high achievement in later years of the degree.

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Additional fieldwork and equipment costs.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

Navigation and maritime science

From sailing ships to travelling the world, find out what our students love about studying navigation and maritime science at the University of Plymouth

Facilities and resources

Being by the sea isn’t the only reason Plymouth is one of the best places in the UK to study the marine environment. You’ll enjoy access to a wide range of high-specification facilities, so you have the resources to match, and achieve, your ambitions.

We have our own ship simulator in which you'll be able to experience what it's like to be in control of a ship. 

We also have our own yacht - a sail training vessel named Take The Helm. You'll have the chance to take her out on to the water with your course mates, learning how to apply and manage navigation and crews, laying the foundations for a successful career at sea.

Discover what will be available to you

Sponsorship - earn while you learn

Sponsorship can help you study for a navigation and maritime science degree, follow an accredited pathway to an OOW Certificate of Competency and often receive a bursary

Sponsorship can provide you with the sea time and financial support to achieve professional navigating officer qualifications.

Find out more about sponsorship on our accredited degree

Think about your future

Career paths

Do you want to become a professional seafarer where you are an officer in charge of ships or to work in the shore side maritime sector? Whatever your aspirations, we’ll make sure you get all the academic support you need to succeed.

Find out more about your career options

Accredited pathways

Our BSc (Hons) and FdSc Navigation and Maritime Science programmes are accredited by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB).

Following an accredited pathway can lead to professional seagoing qualifications as a navigating officer.

Find out more about our accredited degree

*Accreditation is considered for re-approval annually.

*These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Unistats is updated annually in September.