Maritime and Aquaculture Skills NQ Level 5

What is special about this course?

Do you want to be part of a major growth area in Scotland's economy - why not consider a career in the maritime sector?

This new course combines essential basic boat skills with certification from RYA and MCA with an understanding of aquaculture and the role it plays in Scotland’s waters and its therefore a great starting point for a career that could take a number of routes.  You will also have the advantage of being taught by a master mariner and have the use of our own Seaward 25 vessel, the Lannair, for practical aspects of your course.

During your course, we introduce you to using a range of digital technologies, which will help you get the most from your course and at the same time develop your digital skills.  Find out more about key computing skills and essential student skills


Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements for this course. Entry is at the discretion of the centre and on successful interview. Relevant experience may also provide an appropriate basis for undertaking this course but is not essential.

You will study:

  • Small boat engineering
  • Maritime environment
  • Seamanship
  • Health and Safety in the maritime sector
  • MCA STCW10 (PST, PSSR and EFA)
  • Knots and rope work
  • RYA Essential navigation and boat handling
  • RYA Level 2 Powerboat and VHF Radio
  • Navigation 1 and 2
  • Aquaculture: an introduction to shellfish production
  • Aquaculture: basic seamanship
  • Embedded development of core and essential skills
  • North European aquaculture: an Introduction
  • Aquatic environment: local investigation
  • Aquaculture: an introduction to finfish production
  • Scottish sea fisheries: an introduction

More than just your subject

Imagine coming out of college with your subject qualification PLUS a portfolio of skills endorsed by employers. That’s exactly what you will get with us. Our skills+ portfolio is part of your full-time course. You will develop skills in digital literacy, entrepreneurship, metaskills, work-readiness, net-zero, wellbeing, and the skills you need for your future aspirations. Our skills+ portfolio becomes your portfolio to take away with you. Whilst studying your subject you will build your skills+ portfolio and gain confidence and resilience along the way.


Internet connection and a suitable device with headphones, microphone and camera (minimum spec) is required. Please email us if you have any concerns about connectivity or equipment.

How will I study my course?

  • Full Time

You normally need to commit to 18 hours per week (2-3 days) of blended learning time consisting of timetabled learning and personal study.

For the practical elements of your course, some of your timetabled learning will probably take place in the Mallaig Learning Centre.


How long will my course last?

19 Weeks

Where can I study my course?

    • Mallaig

    Please note, UHI West Highland will be changing its name to UHI North, West and Hebrides in August 2023, subject to Scottish Government approval. This will not impact on your choice of course or how and where you will study.

Start date

August and January each year.


For the latest information on fees please see our Fees & Funding information pages.


Students may also qualify for bursary funding.

What can I do on completion of my course?

When you finish this course you will have several choices available for future employment or study making use of both strands of learning (boat skills and aquaculture).

You might want to continue your studies with our NC Shipping and Maritime Operations (SCQF level 6), you could consider a career in the merchant navy, by applying for a cadetship with national shipping companies OR you could apply for a modern apprenticeship in Harbour Operations, Deck Rating or Hospitality (on-board).

Another career route could be into marine/aquaculture sector -  increasingly important for Scotland since seafood is one of our major exports; helping to sustain economic growth in the rural and coastal communities of the north and west. Fish farming and its related inudstries has a number of great career opportunities.

If you wish to move straight in to employment then you could apply for jobs, which will make use of the boat skills and aquaculture skills learned on the course. Jobs such as trainee fish farm technicians; boat crew at fish farms or harbour operatives for local ferry companies.

You could also enter the leisure sector as boat crew or sailing instructors after further suitable training.

You could work in freight logistics or the commercial fishing industry.

Is there more information available online?

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“I did some casual work at sea but not having the right tickets was holding me back. I started this course because it included the tickets that I needed. So now I’ve done RYA VHF Radio and Powerboat 2, First Aid and 3 parts of the MCA STCW10. I would recommend the course. It’s been hard work but there’s plenty of encouraging support. I’ve also been able to carry on working and earning while studying as the course runs 3 days a week.
I am now studying NC Shipping and Maritime Operations building up my knowledge, tickets and career options."

Daniel Langford

Apply for Maritime and Aquaculture Skills NQ

I want to start in Jan 2023


We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at UHI West Highland. Please note, UHI West Highland will be changing its name to UHI North, West and Hebrides in August 2023, subject to Scottish Government approval. This will not impact on your choice of course or how and where you will study. UHI West Highland operates 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 age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity status, race, religion and/or belief, sex, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.