HNC Nautical Science candidate information

The HNC Nautical Science is specifically designed to equip you to enter employment in the Merchant Navy as a Deck Officer. It has also enables you to develop the skills required to gain employment within the wider UK maritime sector, including shore-based positions. It will develop your practical, interpersonal and social skills — important requirements for a career in the maritime sector.

The HNC provides you with all the underpinning knowledge that is required for obtaining a Certificate of Competency at the Operational level, ie at Officer of the Watch level as defined by the STCW 95 convention. The award will also allow you to develop complex, vocationally-specific reading and report writing skills.

Employment and progression opportunities

The HNC Nautical Science aims to equip you with the skills to seek employment at operational level in: ship management, port and harbour operations, freight and transportation operations, marine insurance industry, ship broking and chartering, the wider maritime safety industry (eg safety equipment manufacturers), meteorological services, pollution prevention services.

The HNC Nautical Science will also provide a means for deck ratings, radio officers or RN to MN conversion candidates to gain continuous professional development and lead to the award of an OOW certificate of competency when taken in conjunction with the required STCW95 short courses.  If you achieve the HNC Nautical Science Group Award as a means of gaining a UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) 'Officer of the Watch' Unlimited Certificate, you will be eligible to progress to complete the full HND Nautical Science at Chief Mate Unlimited level, once you have gained the Industrial Experience specified by the MCA.

The HNC offers you a wide range of routes to higher education. Depending on the HE institution, you could gain up to 3rd year entry to degree programmes. You should check this with your centre.

If you wish to change career and work ashore you may, depending on your academic performance in the HNC, be allowed to proceed directly onto Part 2 of the HND Nautical Science.

The HNC Nautical Science is recognised by the Merchant Navy Training Board and MCA as providing the underpinning knowledge necessary to meet the requirements of STCW 95 for certification as an Officer of the Watch (OOW) in a deck capacity. The UK OOW certificate of competency is recognised by shipping companies and national administrations worldwide.


Entry is at the discretion of the centre. There are many courses that can be regarded as entry requirements, so you should check with the relevant centre.