IRSE Professional Exam
  1. Licensing
  2. Membership
  3. Qualifications & Careers
  4. Publications & Resources
  5. Get Involved
  6. News
  1. Licensing
  2. Membership
  3. Qualifications & Careers
  4. Publications & Resources
  5. Get Involved
  6. News

The IRSE Professional Exam

Please keep up-to-date with any changes to the 2021 exam by reading our Exam News 2021 page

Passing the Advanced Diploma in Railway Control Engineering (IRSE Professional Exam) provides one of the main routes to corporate membership of the Institution and can provide additional qualifications for professional registration

It is designed to test candidates' knowledge of railway signal and telecommunications principles and practices and is modular in nature, allowing students to answer questions that are relevant to their particular subject specialism and experience. An additional qualification is also available, called Certificate in Railway Control Engineering Fundamentals.

The exam regulations ensure that all candidates are given the same opportunities and that the examinations are conducted in a fair manner, we advise that you read these regulations before applying to take the exam.

Awards are available to candidates who achieve outstanding marks in the exam.

The Advanced Diploma

The Advanced Diploma consists of four mandatory modules as listed below.  Passing all four modules (or an agreed combination with previously available modules, see will lead you to be awarded the Advanced Diploma in Railway Control Engineering.

For more details, please see each modules' exam resources page (hyperlinks above and left hand menu). There is no time limit for completing the Advanced Diploma and passes in previously available modules will always count towards it.

Some members may be able to gain exemption from some or all of the exam modules, please get in touch with the exam team if you are interested in this or read the process for establishing equivalence document if you are an educational organisation seeking to demonstrate equivalence.

The Certificate

The Certificate covers all aspects of railway control engineering at a foundation level. This is a stand-alone qualification in addition to being a mandatory pre-qualifier for all wishing to take the Advanced Diploma (unless have passes in previously available modules).

The Certificate is be suitable for a much wider group of people working on or around railway control and communications systems than the Advanced Diploma. Junior signalling and telecoms engineers, project managers, project planners, software developers and managers of contractors and sub-contractors will demonstrate a broad knowledge of railway control and communications systems engineering by passing this module.

For more details, please see the module A exam resources page.

Practical details

What are the key dates for 2021?

  • April:

    Booking opened for all candidates wishing to sit the 2021 IRSE exams. All are asked to read the guidance document in detail, including terms and conditions of the exam. To book, please click here to take you to the events page or type into your browser. Note that all checks will take place after you have made your booking, so please ensure that you have booked the correct module(s) and that you send in your SDF (if required). Module 2 candidates: E&PD Committee are still working on a solution for you to sit module 2 in 2021 - update - this has now been resolved and candidates will be sitting module 2 in October

  • 31 July: bookings close and all Sponsorship Declaration Forms (SDFs) must be submitted to (where required) for October 2021's exam
  • Saturday 2 October 2021: exam day for all candidates

Where do I go to sit the exam?

  • There will be no exam centres in 2021, with all exam candidates sitting the exam at a suitable location for them. Candidates will need a computer or laptop and a reliable internet connection which can access the exam website and software. Candidates will be given access to practice sessions to ensure that this works for them

What pre-requisites are there?

  • For candidates sitting the Certificate only, there are no pre-requisites.  Members and non-members are encouraged to sit this module
  • For candidates sitting one or more module as part of their journey to achieving the Advanced Diploma, they must be:
    • A member of the IRSE with 2020-21 subscription fully paid and no other outstanding debts to the IRSE
    • Have already passed at least one exam module, or for 2021 only, have a sponsor (who is a Member or Fellow of IRSE (MIRSE or FIRSE)) who is willing to declare that the candidate is ready to sit the module(s) (note - this has changed at the request of Education & Professional Development Committee in March 2021)

How many modules can I sit?

  • In October 2021, you can sit between one and four modules (note - this has changed at the request of Education & Professional Development Committee in March 2021)

How much is the exam?

  • In 2021 each module will cost GBP £110

When should I take the exam?

  • It is important to apply to sit any module(s) of the exam only when you are prepared so please take the time to read the information for candidates and other documents on this page.