School of Engineering

BSc (Hons) Navigation and Maritime Science

Do you want to become a professional seafarer in the merchant navy, yachting or superyacht industries? You will study a three year honours programme that gives you skills sought by employers across the sector for shore-based maritime management. You can study an additional year working at sea to gain internationally recognised qualifications required to become a professional seafarer. You will gain core leadership, navigation and meteorological skills through time on ships and in our simulator.

You will gain a degree accredited by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, and the Merchant Navy Training Board*. You will gain hands-on experience, navigating our dedicated 13 metre sail and navigation training vessel on Plymouth Sound. Once qualified and approved, you will be able to skipper her. In the 2016 National Student Survey, 100% of students on this course felt staff were good at explaining things, 100% found it intellectually stimulating and 100% were satisfied with it overall.

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Key features

  • Lay strong foundations for a successful career in the maritime sector. Our students go on to work in a diverse range of maritime industries. Whether you aspire to be a professional navigator, a marine manager or yacht racer, the world’s oceans could literally unfold before your eyes. 
  • 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 the vessel 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.
  • Some of our students gain sponsorship from shipping companies or training providers, looking to train the next generation of professional seafarers. In many cases sponsorship becomes available to students already following our programme.  
  • Sponsored students follow an accredited pathway and will receive funding towards tuition fees and living expenses from the sponsoring company, while they study. They go to sea as trainee officers to gain practical experience from a seagoing placement year.
  • The accredited pathway is also open to students who are not sponsored, but still wish to follow a trajectory into professional seafaring careers. Many of these 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.

    • NMS105 Marine Techniques

      This module will help equip the student with the essential skill for study in higher education. Statistical analysis along with library 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.

    • 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

  • Year 2
  • In your second year, you’ll advance your navigation skills and learn about position determination (including celestial navigation), ship construction, stability and cargo operations, as well as getting 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.

    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

      A substantial period of professional training education spent as the third year of a sandwich programme undertaking an approved placement with a suitable company. This provides an opportunity for the student to gain relevant industrial experience to consolidate the first two stages of study and to prepare for the final University phase and employment after graduation.

  • Final year
  • You’re now ready to refine the skills necessary for a career in the maritime sector, gaining experience managing operations and solving complex problems that you’ll encounter in the workplace. You’ll round off what you’ve learnt this year by studying advanced topics around navigation management, and complete a year-long research project on a topic of your choice. You’ll also have the opportunity to develop, run and present, at a conference attended by key industrial players

    Core modules
    • NMS302 Operational Procedures and Processes

      This module provides students with an opportunity to identify key processes in the marine industry and investigate their application. This includes; commercial activities, cargo planning, design processes, dry-docking and repair, project management and team work.

    • NMS303 Problem-Solving in the Marine Environment

      To provide the opportunity for a student to develop problem-solving strategies in the marine environment, including: search and rescue, data communications and managing a navigation team.

    • NMS304 Marine Honours Project

      This module requires students to undertake an approved research project with a marine science theme and to report the findings.

    • NMS305 Navigation Safety and Management

      Students will further develop their on-board leadership and management skills through the study of specialist navigation topics, emergency situation planning and accident investigation.

    • NMS306 Ship and Yacht Management

      Students will develop an understanding of the regulatory framework governing ship and yacht management, coupled to the practical application of maritime law.

    • NMS307 Accreditation

      This module provides the means to record achievement of success in short courses or other similar education or training provision gained in association with their higher education studies as determined by the individual students' CPD needs.

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:

BSc Navigation and Maritime Science programme specification 4493

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 C in a relevant science, excluding general studies.

BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: MMP - DMM dependent on 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 Access (Science) with at least 33 credits at merit and/or distinction to include 12 credits in science. Must have GCSE English and mathematics grade C/4 or above or equivalent.

International Baccalaureate: 26 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. We welcome applications from students around the world with equivalent qualifications.

Direct Entry into year 2 or final year

It is possible for appropriately qualified (typically HND, Foundation degree or equivalent) student to have a direct entry into year 2 or the final year of the programme.

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

English language requirements

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2018 2019
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International £13,000 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of 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.

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 University of Plymouth

Ship simulator and maritime navigation facilities

Plymouth University's ship simulator, complete with a 240-degree screen and realistic control panel.

Take the Helm

Experience University of Plymouth's fantastic yacht Take the Helm.

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.

Our brand new Marine Building makes us a world-renowned centre for maritime science and enterprise.

Find out more about our facilities and resources


Do you want a maritime career; be an officer in the merchant navy, navigate superyachts or race yachts? Whatever your aspirations, we’ll make sure you get all the academic support you need to succeed.

Find out more about careers in the maritime industry

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


Sponsorship can help you study for a Navigation and Maritime Science degree, and follow an accredited pathway to an OOW Certificate of Competency.

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

International students

Are you excited by the potential of our accredited honours degree leading to professional navigating officer qualifications? You could study for a degree in the UK at Plymouth University.

We welcome international students onto our honours degree course, and have a history of success with students from all over the world.

Find out more about being an international student on our degree course

*Accreditation is considered for re-approval annually.