Marine Engineering HNC

Course code 206J

What is special about this course?

The course covers many different aspects of marine engineering and provides an excellent basis for anyone wishing to become an engineer. It forms the second year of the Merchant Navy Cadet Programme for engineering officers and runs over three years.

As a cadet, 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 sea. For further information please contact Shetland 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
  • Highly qualified professional staff with experience afloat and ashore
  • State of the art simulation equipment, engineering workshops and training vessels 
  • High quality support infrastructure within modern facilities
  • Small class sizes providing opportunity for one-to-one teaching
  • 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:

  • Marine engineering: graded unit 1
  • Marine engineering: thermodynamics
  • Marine engineering: mechanical principles
  • Marine engineering: electro-technology
  • Marine engineering: stability and structure of merchant ships
  • Marine engineering: pneumatics and hydraulic systems
  • Marine engineering: auxiliary systems
  • Marine engineering: propulsion
  • Fundamentals of control systems and transducers
  • Engineering mathematics 1
  • Marine legislation and leadership
  • Safety engineering and the environment

How will I study my 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 Shetland UHI

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 1 year

Where can I study my course?

  • Shetland

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) 2023-24 2024-25
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) 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year £7,110 £7,110

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) 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year £7,980 £8,775



UHI has a number of scholarships, bursaries, awards, and discretionary fund opportunities available to new and current students. Please use the A-Z of funds or use the filter to see which ones may be relevant to you. All students are welcome to apply.

Further information on funding your studies is also available, please see the attached link or contact the relevant UHI partner.

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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Apply for Marine Engineering HNC

Please contact us to discuss application to this course.

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.