HSE Professional SCUBA diving course

The University of Plymouth is unique in offering its students the opportunity to gain the HSE Professional SCUBA certification alongside their degree. 

The course is an intensive four week full-time programme designed to prepare candidates for undertaking media, scientific and archaeological diving projects.

Our mandatory course content is dictated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) but we have significantly expanded upon this, building upon our own 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 along with our fleet of support boats: 6m Polar Cirkel Work Boats.

Practical tasks will be undertaken by all candidates, day and night, including preparation of project plans and risk assessments.


4 weeks (Monday – Friday, courses run each month for June, July, August and September).


£2,500 incl VAT (price subject to change)


There are certain prerequisites that we ask you to obtain prior to the start of the course. Find out full details of these and when you need to obtain them by

Theoretical content

  • Manual handling
  • Commercial SCUBA diving equipment (inc. full face masks, comms 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 environment
  • 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 Comms
  • 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

Frequently asked questions

Why do I need HSE Professional SCUBA?

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

I only have an entry level qualification with little experience, is this going to be a problem?

No. We only ask that you have an entry level SCUBA certification (PADI Open Water of BSAC Ocean Diver), with a minimum of ten dives and a few in a drysuit. We will teach you to be a commercial diver, not how to dive, you just need to ensure you are comfortable in the underwater environment. We will be teaching you commercial methods from day one and your experience will be obtained through progressive steps (including a progression in depth)

I am an experienced recreational diver, why do I have to do another SCUBA course?

The recreational and professional qualifications are completely different. During the HSE Professional SCUBA 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. All of our staff are also qualified recreational Instructors who understand the recreational training systems. 

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.

Are there evening/weekend sessions, if I have apart-time job?

The HSE course runs form Monday – Friday, so not at weekends. The course is intensive and the days can be long and tiring, normally at 8.30am – 5pm. On some occasions lectures may run until 6pm but we try to avoid this where possible. There is also a night dive with times depending on when sunset is! If you have to work we recommend you avoid in the week if you can as you will have reading and revision for exams to complete.

I've heard I can pick an optional module in Scientific Diving as part of my studies?

After completing the HSE Professional SCUBA course students have the chance to pick an optional module in Scientific Diving as part of their academic studies in the 2nd year of their degree.  Find out more about this opportunity.

There is a lot involved in the HSE Professional SCUBA course including hard work and commitment as well as the financial implications. So why should I do this?

When you graduate you’re up against other students who also have the same degree as you, however you may have other skills that set you apart and make you stand out from the crowd.  Read more about the skills you learn and find out what our alumni have gone on to do next. 

Our diving staff