2 divers in the sea with a flag and boat
The University of Plymouth is unique in offering its students the opportunity to gain the HSE SCUBA certification alongside their degree, subject to space availability.  
The course is an intensive four week, full-time programme designed to prepare candidates for undertaking media, scientific and archaeological diving projects.
Our course content is dictated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) but we have significantly expanded on this, building upon our experience with industry and scientific research.
Dives will be undertaken from a variety of coded vessels including Wavedancer: our 11m South Cat Mk11 Catamaran, Jo-Jo: our 35ft Offshore 105 as well as our support boats: 6m Polar Cirkel Work Boats.
Practical tasks are undertaken by all candidates, day and night, including preparation of project plans and risk assessments.
HSE SCUBA training has limited spaces available each year (currently 56). Further information is available in our enrolment process section.
UoP Diver with Camera
HSE SCUBA Commercial and Scientific Diver Training
Student divers stride entry from the DSV Wavedancer
De-kitting a diver post dive

Plymouth is one of the top UK diving destinations and people come from all over the UK to dive there. As a student on the HSE diving course you get to dive these areas as part of the course - from famous ship wrecks to reefs with large amounts of marine life. Having the HSE diving qualification helped me get my dream job as a Marine Biologist working for The British Antarctic Survey and to this day keeps me in an exciting marine science career. I would recommend it 100%.

Terri Souster, BSc (Hons) Marine Biology  graduate

Theoretical content

  • Manual handling
  • Commercial SCUBA diving equipment (including full face masks, communications and lifelines)
  • Use of SCUBA in the commercial environment
  • Diving physics and physiology
  • Legislation applicable to diving at work
  • Underwater communication systems
  • Emergency procedures
  • Decompression theory (including dive tables)
  • Recompression theory
  • Compressor theory
  • Diving in hazardous environments
  • Project plans and risk assessments

Practical content

  • Pre- and post-dive checks
  • Emergency procedures – including commercially orientated diver rescue procedures
  • Compressor operations
  • Safe use of a wide variety of commercial SCUBA equipment systems
  • Half mask techniques
  • Full face masks techniques
  • Alternative air sources, gas switching blocks, bailout systems, etc.
  • Underwater communication systems, including lifeline signals, hard wire communications and wireless through-water communication
  • Chamber dive
  • Night dive
  • Simulated decompression and stage decompression diving
  • Underwater surveying, construction and use of hand tools 
  • Scientific diving (including quadrats and jackstays)
  • Basic seamanship (including knots and splicing)
  • Dive supervising

Where could this course lead you?

With the HSE Professional SCUBA diving qualification under their belt, our graduates have gone on to do some inspirational work.


Frequently asked questions

Why do I need HSE SCUBA?

If you are looking to do any underwater work in the UK and be paid, you will require a HSE qualification. The HSE Professional SCUBA course is the minimum requirement if you wish to work on scientific, archaeological or media diving projects.

The professional qualification is different to a recreational qualification. You will learn about equipment and procedures that are not taught in the recreational environment to this level, including full face masks (AGA), communication systems, lifeline signals and decompression procedures.

How long is the course and when does it run?

The course runs for 4 weeks and is held in June, July, August and September. Training is Monday to Friday, 08:30–17:00. On some occasions lectures may run until 18:00 but we try to avoid this where possible. 
There is also a night dive with times depending on when sunset is.

How much does it cost?

The course costs £2,750 including VAT (price subject to change).

Can I use my own dive kit?

The short answer is no. All kit is provided for the course (BCD, cylinders, regulators, weight belts etc.), the only thing you need is a drysuit, undersuit and hood (gloves are optional but we recommend you have a pair). If you have your own knife, fins and mask you are more than welcome to use them but this is not a requirement.

Is there anything I need to do before the course?

There are certain prerequisites that we ask you to obtain before the start of the course.

What is the optional scientific dive module?

After completing the HSE Professional SCUBA course, you will have the chance to pick an optional module in scientific diving as part of your academic studies in the second year of your degree.

How will the course help me in the future?

When you graduate, you’re up against other students who also have the same degree as you. This course will give you additional skills that make you stand out from the crowd. 

The University of Plymouth Professional Diving team

Our diving team also provide professional services, training and support to researchers and businesses.  We have extensive experience of scientific and commercial diving globally. Members of the team have supported or delivered research in some of the most remote and isolated places on the planet, from the Arctic to Antarctica. 

Our diving staff

Student divers entry from platform of Wavedancer