In this section
The UK follows a 3 tier progressive licencing scheme, Foundation, Intermediate & Full. As you progress, you gain extra privileges – from the ability to build your own equipment and to apply to run unattended stations, through to being allowed more power, and being able to run on additional frequencies.
Each level is attained through learning and examination. You are unable to skip any level of exam nor do you have to progress to full!
Exams are typically carried out online. As with any other qualification or school type examination, all work has to be your own, you will not be allowed any notes or assistance during the exam. You will need access to a computer with a webcam [a second camera – typically a mobile phone is needed for intermediate/full] and the ability to install the examination software.
A number of MKARS members volunteer as invigilators and would be happy to answer any questions you may have!
To book an exam visit:
The RSGB has produced a guide to the most frequently asked questions. You can view this by clicking here
All exams are administered by the Radio Society of Great Britain. At the time of writing, the cost of exams were:
Foundation Examination – Online £ 27.50
Intermediate Examination – Online £ 32.50
Full Licence Examination – Online £ 37.50
You do not have to pay for a licence, this is included as part of the examination fee. As long as you revalidate your licence every 5 years, your licence remains free.
The RSGB produces course books for each licence level. These are available from the RSGB https://www.rsgbshop.org/, our local amateur radio retailer – Moonraker, and other online companies. Each book retails for under £10 – although bargins can be found on sites such as Amazon or eBay, please be wary of sales of old editions.
You can easily identify if you have the latest coursebook by looking at the cover images in the next section.
In days gone by, local clubs provided training across the country, in classrooms and halls over evenings and weekends. Over time, as demands on people’s time changed and costs increased, these course closed down. Ahead of the lockdown in 2019, only a small percentage of the country had a nearby club offering training. MKARS was one such club.
During the first lockdown of 2019, MKARS supported the development of training by the Online Amateur Radio Community and a number of our trainers now support course delivery on that platform. Not only does this mean we are able to continue to support people progressing through the hobby, but we are able to reach a large number that were previously unsupported.
We are able to deliver our foundation/intermediate courses in person for minimal cost for groups that wish to provide accommodation/facilities – otherwise the MKARS training team primarily will provide support to individuals on a one to one basis, whether that’s coaching on specific trouble spots, or helping you get registered for a course.
This is the entry-level to Amateur Radio. This level is accessible to everyone, whether or not you are technically inclined! The exam is an hour-long, the pass mark is 19/26. Although this is achievable by all, you can not book the exam and pass without studying. The exam tests your understanding of licence conditions, operating practices, basic transmitter, receiver and antenna concepts. Although the exam is multiple-choice, you can’t “common sense” your way to a pass, this is knowledge you have to gain.
This is the next step up from the Foundation Licence, offering a larger number of frequencies, higher power for your transmitter and the ability for you to operate homemade equipment. For these extra privileges, you have to be able to show a greater understanding of the theory behind radio technologies. The exam is 1 hour 30 mins and requires a pass mark of 28/46.
As you progress from foundation to full, the onus shifts from you having to demonstrate your ability to recall facts, to being able to demonstrate a full understanding of concepts by applying them to scenarios. At foundation, the split is about 90% recall, 10% understanding. At intermediate this shifts to around 50/50. This shift, along with the step-up in technical knowledge does mean it will take a couple of months for most people to be ready to attempt the intermediate.
The Full licence is the highest level of licencing in amateur radio, it has the most freedoms with the minimum of restrictions, including allowing you to operate whilst abroad! This level is heavily focused on demonstrating your understanding of all aspects of the hobby, whether it’s the nuances of the law whilst operating at sea, through to understanding the purpose and properties of various elements of electronic circuits. Expect to commit 3-4 months to study at this level. The exam is held over 2 hours, requiring a pass mark of 35/58.