Studying At College


Most programmes contain periods of study at a college or University. The duration varies considerably from programme to programme but will usually be split into three college phases interspersed by sea service.

For some of you, the first college phase will be your first time living away from home and it is a valuable experience that will prepare you for your life at sea.  However, just like at home, your college has its own rules and regulations which must be followed.

Timetabling & Private Study:

You will be provided with a timetable which might include any mix of lectures or classes, practical sessions, tutorials or seminars and other components. You MUST attend all compulsory elements. You may also find that some sessions are designated as ‘optional’ by the college and whilst non attendance at these may not directly affect your chances of success, this will be taken into account by SSTG should you need to re-take an exam or request additional time at college later on. 

Make sure you find out what your scheduled timetable is and that you understand the information provided. It is likely to include information on which lecturer is responsible for each session, as well as the subject, times and location.

You should also familiarise yourself with the college procedures for notifying you of any changes to the timetable and check for possible changes on a regular basis.

Occasionally, you may find periods of ‘private study’ included in your timetable. This is just that, time set aside for you to study the subject areas that you know require extra attention and you must make the most of such opportunities.


Good timekeeping at sea is considered a crucial personal trait and you will be expected to be on time, every time, for college activities as well as went you get to sea.

Your company expect much of you, but so will your college lecturers and ship’s officers, as well as your Training Officer.

Make sure you know where you are required to be and ensure you arrive and ready to start on time.

What Will I Need:

Make sure you know what you will need and ensure you have it with you. You might need reference notes or books or special equipment such as drawing instruments. You should always take sufficient notepaper and pens/pencils for taking notes. If you have a college ID badge, make sure you have in with you at all times whilst on college campus.

The Lecturer has not Arrived:

From time to time you may find that the lecturer does not arrive within the expected time frame. Any action required will depend on the precise circumstances but there will usually be a Head of Department or Office where you should report what has happened. Make sure you use any waiting time as best you can. This can be an excellent opportunity to recap on notes from the previous session or other general revision

How Should I prepare for A Lecturer or Other Timetabled Session:

Make sure you have done any preparation required or background reading well beforehand. You may come across difficulties that you need to seek help with and that may not be possible if you leave it until the last minute.

Not everyone is at their best first think in the morning but don’t hinder your chances of getting the most out of any session. Getting enough sleep before hand and not drinking too much the night before are both unlikely to be the best preparation for ‘learning’. A large fried breakfast is also not recommended unless you will have time for suitable exercise before lectures.


From time to time emergencies do happen and it is important that you know what the procedure is in advance. It will become second nature to you to ensure you know what the fire alarm is and the quickest way out of any room on every ship you serve on. You should also know where the nearest fire equipment is stored and the closest point for activating the alarm. Make sure you check the same thinks each time you attend a new college or use a new room or workshop.

Personal Study & Revision:

Most of the courses you will attend will require some study outside the core timetabled college sessions. How much time you will be expected to put in will vary widely depending on the programme being studied, the level of contact hours, your familiarity with the subjects currently being studied and many other factors.

Make sure you have suitable facilities. The following are just some of the questions you should ask yourself:

  • Is my place of study available when I need it?
  • Is my study place free from interruptions and distractions?
  • Does my study place contain all the materials I need?
  • Do I have a large enough desk or table?
  • Is the chair comfortable?
  • Is there sufficient storage space?
  • Is it light enough?
  • Is the temperature comfortable?

Take frequent breaks and get some fresh air regularly. 15 minutes every hour is probably sufficient to feel refreshed, but consider carefully what suits you best. Sometimes a change of subject can be sufficient.

Don’t overdo it. Once you have done two or three hours in an evening, partially after a full day, is an much as most individuals can effectively study for and after this further study can even be counter production.

I am Stuck and Don’t Know Where To Turn:

We all get topics that we find difficult to take in from time to time so you are unlikely to be alone. Ask your class mates first and if they can’t help seek assistance from your subject or course tutor.

In any event don’t leave it too late. If you raise issues early enough you are more likely to be able to solve the issue. Leaving a problem to build up will usually make the situation worst and if left until too late may leave insufficient time to successfully complete that phase of study. Retakes, including exam fees extra college attendance and other costs will have to be met you and these can be expensive particularly if you are required under college rules to redo an entire phase.


The college you are attending are required under Government funding rules to monitor your attendance and that information will be sent to the SSTG and your sponsoring company.  If you are ill, or cannot attend for another reason, you must get in touch with your college and your SSTG Training Officer at the start of the day to let them know.  If you are absent without having contacted us, it will be recorded as an unauthorised absence and you will be required to provide an explanation.

When you return after absence, make sure you tell your tutor, or other appropriate lecturer, so that they can follow any necessary college procedures. It is also important to do what you can to minimise the effect of the absence. Make sure you obtain any handouts that you may have missed, collect any assignments and make it your responsibility to check the deadline for submission to the college.

Your attendance is a very important aspect of the training you are undertaking. There are a lot of compulsory aspects in the programme you are following and if you miss any of them, you may find you cannot progress to the next phase of your training.

Any absence for whatever reason, however necessary and genuine, can have a serious consequence on your training and it is important that you clearly understand this. At some point you may come across a situation where you are physically unable to attend some element of your training. The consequence of this could still be your removal from the training programme until the college are next offering the phase of training you need to complete. For programmes that commence annually this could mean a wait of 12 months before you are able to resume your studies. Should this affect you, your Training Officer will make you aware of the repercussions at the earliest opportunity and offer guidance or instructions accordingly.


As a matter of courtesy and good manners towards lecturers and fellow students you are required to turn off mobile phones whilst attending lectures at college.

All colleges have their own rules regarding behaviour on and off campus and all students must follow these rules.  You are now an Officer Trainee under training and must act accordingly by showing due respect to your lecturers, fellow cadets and everyone else. Any breach of college regulations may affect your training and will be recorded and taken very seriously by the SSTG.

Your Training Officer is also hear to help so if you do need someone to talk to or discussion the options with do not leave it too late.

Updated:   May 2017.