STCW Proficiency in Security Awareness [PSA] Course

Online MCA Approved [ISPS] Courses for Cruise Ship Crew & Staff

Course Introduction

Under the ISPS Code, there is a minimum security certification requirement for anyone working onboard or frequenting a vessel often. The fully online, ISPS Code compliant, UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency [STCW ISPS] Proficiency in Security Awareness [PSA] Course, also referred to a Vessel Security Awareness [VSA] is the mandatory, minimum training requirement under STCW ISPS for members of a Ship’s Crew or Staff who do not have assigned designated security duties on board ship. This course has been specifically tailored for Cruise Ship Crew & Staff.

Course Features

  • UK DfT MCA Approved
  • Fully STCW ISPS Recognised Course
  • Fully Compliant with IMO Model 3.27
  • This Course is IMO Whitelisted
  • No Expiry on the Official Course Certificate
  • 100% Online including Course Assessments
  • Full Set of Course Notes to Keep
  • Learning Confirmation Exercises Throughout
  • Interactive Learning Materials
  • Rapid Turnaround on Course Certification
  • Flexible Learning at Your Own Pace
  • Course Tailored for this Specific Sector
  • Take Online or Offline Using the APP

  • About Security Awareness

    Understanding the basic security elements that assist in maintaining the security integrity, and therefore safety of the crew, passengers, and staff on a cruise ship can be the difference between a successful cruise and a potentially dangerous criminal (such as Maritime Piracy), terrorist-related or even passenger-related event. By instilling in the crew and staff engaged on these cruises the basic fundamentals of [maritime-related] security (under the ISPS Code) we create a consistent and effective security posture, greatly mitigating the chances of a security-related event getting out of control. The VIRSEC, fully online and MCA Approved [STCW ISPS] Proficiency in Security Awareness [PSA] course covers the mandatory subject areas for this requirement.

    The Aim of the Course

    The aim of this Fully Online, MCA Approved [STCW ISPS] Proficiency in Security Awareness [PSA] Course, is to provide those onboard ship who do not possess designated security duties with the essential education and training meeting the Knowledge, Understanding and Proficiency [KUP] requirements set out in STCW Reg. VI/6, para 1, Sect. A-VI/6, para 4 which supports Chapter XI-2 of the annex to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea [SOLAS] 1974, as amended and the International Ship and Port Facility security [ISPS] Code. NB: Security Awareness training must be undertaken by all seafarers [crew & staff] employed or engaged in any capacity on ships which are required to comply with the ISPS Code.

    Vessel-Specific Tailored Courses

    This course has been tailored specifically for crew and staff, who work on board Cruise Ships. VIRSEC also offers the following tailored versions of the Security Awareness [PSA] Course for the following sectors:

    Regulations Addressed

    The PSA Course has been developed with the following considerations:

    • The Merchant Navy Training Board [MNTB] Security Courses Criteria [1st Edition]
    • Regulation VI/6 para 1, and Section A-VI/6, para 4 of the STCW Convention and Code [2010]
    • International Maritime Organization [IMO] Model Course 3.27
    • The International Ship and Port Facility [ISPS] Code 2004, as amended [STCW Table A-VI/6-1]

    Awarding Body

    The Security Awareness [PSA] Course is fully Approved under the UK Department for Transport, Maritime & Coastguard Agency [MCA], and meets with Regulation VI/6, paragraph 1, and Section A-VI/6, paragraphs 4 of the STCW Convention and Code 1978, as amended.

    Certification Renewal

    Under the Awarding Body [Maritime & Coastguard Agency], there are currently no expiry dates placed on the [STCW ISPS] Proficiency in Security Awareness course certificates. Learners do not currently have to undertake a refresher or re-certification of this course unless directed to do so by the company they are working for.

    Course Learning Outcomes

    The online PSA Course meets with the following Learning Outcomes as set out by the Merchant Navy Training Board [MNTB]

    1. Be aware of the importance of ship security and the roles of those involved in its provision.
    2. Be aware of the requirements and measures to maintain ship security.
    3. Be able to recognise and report a security threat.

    Course Duration

    The online PSA Course duration is approximately 4 hours. A slight variation is allowed for individual reading speeds, but this minimum must be met in order to successfully pass this course. Learners may enter and exit the course as often as they require. Your licence allows you access to the course for up to 6 months to complete [if required] or upon successful completion of the course and awarding of your certification.

    Viewing the Online Course

    We recommend using either a tablet device, laptop, or desktop to take this online course as there are slides within that cannot be properly viewed on a smartphone. We also recommend using Chrome to view the course as this has been recommended as the most course-friendly viewing.

    Taking the Course Online or Offline

    You are able to take the course fully online as expected, but we also have enabled an offline capability available through an APP (available via Googleplay or the Apple App Store). You may download the course to the APP and take the course whilst at sea, or in areas of poor internet quality. Once you have returned to land, or are in an area of good signal quality, you may then upload the course to the system, and sync it with your User area on the LMS []. To learn more about taking the course(s) offline, please contact us at

    Invigilation Requirement

    There is no requirement for the Learner to be invigilated or attend a Remote Invigilation Session whilst undertaking the associated Course Assessment(s).

    • A working knowledge of Maritime Security Terms and Definitions, including those that relate to Maritime Piracy and Armed Robbery against Shipping.
    • An understanding of International Maritime Security Policy.
    • An understanding of the Maritime Security (MARSEC) Levels and their impact on security measures and procedures aboard ship and in port facilities.
    • How to report a security incident.
    • An understanding of security-related contingency plans.
    • How to recognise security threats, including Maritime Piracy and Armed Robbery against Shipping.
    • How to recognise weapons, dangerous substances and devices and an understanding of the damage they can cause.
    • The importance of information security with regards to Sensitive Security-Related Information (SSRI) and Communications.
    • An understanding of the importance of security related drills and exercises including those relating to Anti-Piracy and Anti -Armed Robbery.
  • Official MCA Approved [STCW ISPS] Proficiency in Security Awareness Certification

    The Security Awareness [PSA] Course is fully Approved by the UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency [MCA] and is internationally recognised and accepted. It includes the 2010 Manila Amendments and conforms to Regulation VI/6, paragraph 1, and Section A-VI/6, paragraphs 4 of the STCW Convention and Code 1978, as amended and has also met the additional criteria specified in the STCW Convention and Code, applicable to the issue of this certificate.

    Security Encrypted PDF Certificate

    Upon successful completion of the online course, verification of Learner ID, and associated official Assessment, Learners will receive an electronic security-encrypted version of your official course certificate [in secure PDF format]. Certificates are usually emailed to the Learner within 24 to 48 hours of confirmation of the course results, or the next working day if complete on Friday.

    Expedited Course Certificate

    Should a Learner require the certificate to be expedited, either after office hours, at weekends, holidays, or other, a surcharge of £49.95 GBP [+VAT] will be charged and sent by Secure Payment Link. Please note that all payments must be made before the certificate is sent.

    Hardcopy, Embossed Stamped Certificate

    Learners may also request an embossed stamped, hardcopy certificate to be posted to their home address for an additional standard administration and postage charge of £30 GBP [+VAT]. Please note that VIRSEC is not responsible for any loss or delay of the certificate once it has been dispatched to Royal Mail. Should a Carrier Service be requested, the relevant charges will be applied and all payments must be made before the certificate is posted.

    • Is this course Approved by a Flag State?

      Yes, the fully online Proficiency in Security Awareness or PSA Course, is fully Approved under the UK Department for Transport, Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA). The course complies with the requirements placed upon it by the STCW Convention & Code, the International Ship & Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, and meets with the Knowledge, Understanding & Proficiency 9kup0 requirements laid out by the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB).

    • Is this course Internationally recognised?

      Yes, this course is fully compliant with the Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping (STCW). Any country that is signed up to the ISPS Code and STCW Convention should accept our certification. We have to date provided our courses into 130 countries worldwide.

    • Do I need to take notes on the course?

      No, VIRSEC provides you with a comprehensive set of Course Notes that you can download at the start of each of the Learning Outcomes. You can also use these notes to research any answers when taking the Official Assessment at the end of the course.

    • Is there an Official Assessment after the course?

      On the Proficiency in Security Awareness (PSA) Course, we have a short Assessment after each of the three Learning Outcomes. You must achieve a minimum score of 70% per Assessment to enable you to move onto the next Learning Outcome. Your overall score is an average of the three scores you achieve on the three Assessments.

    • What happens if I fail an Assessment?

      If you fail an Assessment, you may retake it again straight away, or whenever you wish within the 6-month licence applicable to your course [licences commence the day the course is purchased, not the date they are accessed].

    • Do I need to attend a Test Centre to take my assessment?

      No, the course is 100% online and you are required to adhere to the strict requirements outlined in the course explanation as well as any requests made of you during the course such as completing and submitting your online Learner Verification.

    • Do I need to submit any documentation?

      Yes, you are required to submit an official form of ID such as a scan of your passport, driving licence, or other official photo ID. This is to ensure you are who you state yourself to be, and so we can use this ID to collect the relevant information that will populate your official course certificate. It is very easy to do and will only take you around five minutes to do.

    • Do I need an Invigilator when taking my Official Assessment?

      No, for the Security Awareness there is no requirement for an invigilator to be present. However, we do require [as covered] that you provide the correct information on the Online Learner Verification Form and submit the required form of photo ID. This is covered in detail on the course itself.

    • How do I receive my certificate when I pass?

      When you complete the course correctly and pass the Official Assessment, we will verify your time spent on the course, your submitted ID, and your Official Assessment. Once we are satisfied, we will email you a secure PDF of your certificate that you must print off and sign. These PDFs are security encrypted to prevent any tampering with information placed on them, and so you must print them off to sign with as black pen.

    • Is there a minimal time limit I must spend on this course?

      Yes, under the relevant Agencies and Conventions, the Security Awareness is a 4-hour course. This excludes any video content we have included [for interest], viewing of any websites linked from the course or documents also linked from the course.

      We are allowed a slight variation in timings due to individual reading speeds, but we will fail you if you exceed the allowed variance. Please note that the Course Notes are purely there for reference and revision, and any time spent reading these do not count towards your time spent on the course. This is also covered in the course itself, so make sure you spend the time necessary to study properly.

    • Can I take breaks, or do I need to complete the course in one sitting?

      You can take a break from the course at any time of your choosing. We also recommend that you have regular breaks and often build reminders into our courses. It is strongly recommended that if you are going to take a significant break, we recommend that you log out. The system will remember your progress so you may continue from that point when you log back in.

    • What happens if I don’t take long enough on the course?

      If you complete the course in an unrealistic time (too quickly) we will have no alternative but to fail you. It is important that you treat this like you would any officially Approved course taught in a classroom environment. The fact that it is online is not reason to abuse the requirements. As stated in other FAQs, we do allow a slight variance in timings due to individual reading speeds.

    • I am an experienced mariner and/or an officer, does this make a difference?

      No, we do not take into consideration your time served, nor your rank. This is an STCW ISPS Course, and there is an acceptable minimum time set by the relevant Awarding Body and Governing Bodies. If you abuse this, or do not meet with any of these requirements, you will fail the course regardless of the score achieved in the Assessment(s). You will be required to re-take the course and associated assessments.

    • I have left it to the last minute to take my course and need my certificate out of hours, what happens next?

      VIRSEC are not responsible for you leaving your course until the last minute, and you run the risk of not receiving your certificate in the time needed. Certificates take up to 48 hours during the working week to turn around, and should this fall over a weekend, you may not receive the certificate until the next working day [holidays excluded]. If you require your certificate to be expedited, you may request this from VIRSEC, but we are under absolutely no obligation to do this and there will be an additional charge applied.

    • Is VIRSEC open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for Support?

      Learners are able to purchase courses and take them 365 days a year, 24 hours a day as we are an online company, with access to both our e-Commerce website and Learning Management System [LMS]. However, the company is open during the hours listed on its website [0900 to 1700 hrs GMT/BST Monday to Thursday, 0900 to 1500 hrs Friday, Closed Saturday & Sunday and Bank Holidays]. Support requests may be made but will be managed during these listed office hours.

    • Is there an Online Chat Facility for Support Requests?

      VIRSEC do have a Chat Facility on their website and you may make a request for support. However, this is only manned during the hours listed on its website [0900 to 1700 hrs GMT/BST Monday to Thursday, 0900 to 1500 hrs Friday, Closed Saturday & Sunday and Bank Holidays]. Responses to comments or enquiries may take up to 24 hours, or until the next working day as detailed.

  • PSA Testimonial Reference by: Tara H.

    I would use VIRSEC for any online training in the future. In this changing world and where online training is seen more and more I believe VIRSEC is ahead of the game.

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Morgan A.

    Amazing course, would recommend to a friend! 5 stars!

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Stirbu M.

    This course was a great opportunity, I learnt a lot of new things about safety and security. I highly recommend this course! Many thanks!

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Nyasha M.

    The course outline is simplified and enables one to study and understand quickly. The assessment is also of great standard as it is based on material provided during the learning process. An excellent programme.

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Ravi P.

    Excellent course with essential information. The presentation of topics is well designed. It is worth taking this course online. Overall excellent

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Lauren G.

    This course was user friendly and easy to navigate. I also appreciated that I could take my time to complete it.

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Benjamin S.

    This was a no nonsense training session. What I enjoyed very much was the fact that I could study the material without interruptions from classmates etc. Start when it suited me and pushed as hard as I wanted. Information was presented in a professional but simple manner so anybody can easily complete this course and be satisfied that his money was well spent.

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Neil P.

    This was a great course, ticked all the right boxes. Highly recommended as a preferable way of doing this course.

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Pattas P. S.

    There is a lot of useful information that will refresh our knowledge about how important it is to know all those security aspects that we might miss during the time we work on a ship. Thank you a lot to VIRSEC.

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Terence K.

    In light of the security threats posed by terrorists, hijackers and smugglers, this course is very useful in mitigating the threats posed. I truly recommend it.

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Bernard R.

    Anyone looking for a great online course in security awareness, I highly recommend using VIRSEC.

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Henri H.

    The course is very clearly and easy to understand. He give me a complete refresh concerning the safety rules and why it's very important to follow the procedure. Thanks

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Muhammad A.

    Even though these presentation are 200+ slides in total, but I think it isn't boring at all. I think this is a good course.

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Sullimar S.

    The learning materials where very helpful in achieving my desired outcome. The learning development was relevant to my job. The course was well organized.

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Daniel J.

    Leaner notes were very well structured and so was the information provided on all three sections of the course.

    PSA Testimonial Reference by: Cristian C.

    It was a really great time learning all the things regarding the different possibilities on the ships. It goes perfect with the quote "Better safe than sorry". Thanks a lot for all the information and the entire experience!

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