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STCW Security Awareness (PSA) Course

Online MCA Approved Maritime Security (ISPS) Security Awareness Course for Crew & Staff of Cargo Vessels, Offshore Mobile Drilling Platforms, Wind Farms & Ferries Without Security-Related Duties (IMO Model 3.27)

Course Introduction

The aim of this Online Proficiency in Security Awareness (PSA) Course, which is also referred to as a Vessel Security Awareness (VSA) Course, is to provide those crew and staff engaged onboard of Cargo Vessels, Offshore Wind Farms, Ferries, and Mobile Drilling Platforms with the essential education and training meeting with the Knowledge, Understanding and Proficiency (KUP) requirements, also including the 2010 Manila Amendments, and the requirements of Section A-VI/6, paragraphs 4 of the STCW Convention and Code, the International Ship and Port Facility security (ISPS) Code and Table A-VI/6-1.

Course Features

  • 100% Online Course & Assessments
  • Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) Approved
  • Fully STCW & ISPS Compliant Course
  • Fully Compliant with IMO Model 3.27
  • This Course is IMO Whitelisted
  • No Expiry on the Official Course Certificate
  • Full Set of Course Notes to Keep
  • Learning Confirmation Exercises Throughout
  • Interactive Course Learning Materials
  • Rapid Turnaround on Course Certification
  • Flexible Learning at Your Own Pace
  • Course Tailored for this Specific Sector
  • Take Online or Offline via an App

About the Course

In accordance with the ISPS Code, there exists a foundational requirement for security certification for individuals who are regularly onboard vessels or visit them. Our fully online, ISPS Code-compliant, MCA-Approved (STCW & ISPS) Proficiency in Security Awareness (PSA) Course fulfils the essential mandatory training criteria set by STCW ISPS for crew or staff on Cargo Vessels, Offshore Wind Farms, Ferries, and Mobile Drilling Platforms, who do not have designated security responsibilities onboard.

This course provides learners with the necessary knowledge to meet the prescribed training standards outlined by STCW, the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) Knowledge, Understanding, and Proficiency (KUPs), IMO Model Course 3.27, and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) guidelines. It is important to note that this is not a security training course instructing you on security requirements and physical barriers to security-related incidents but provides you with an understanding under various mandatory Procedures, Protocols, International Codes, and Conventions that you are required to be made aware of.

Awarding Body

The Security Awareness (PSA) Course has received complete Approval from the UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and is internationally recognised and accepted. It covers the 2010 Manila Amendments and conforms to the specifications outlined in Section A-VI/6, paragraph 4 of the STCW Convention and Code, along with Table A-VI/6-1. Note: Please confirm with your vessel, crewing agency, or company that the Administration of the vessel you will be working on accepts the UK MCA Certification. The MCA are whitelisted under the Standards for Training, Certification & Watchkeeping (STCW).

Vessel-Tailored Security Awareness Course

Please Note: The Security Awareness (PSA) Course has been customised exclusively for crew and staff operating aboard Cargo Vessels, working on Offshore Wind Farms, Ferries, and Mobile Drilling Platforms. Additionally, we offer tailored versions of the Security Awareness Course designed for specific sectors. Therefore, if you belong to one of these vessel categories, we recommend selecting the appropriate course version from the provided links below for optimal relevance and effectiveness.

Course Learning Outcomes

The Proficiency in Security Awareness [PSA] Course Approved by the UK DfT MCA aligns with the Learning Outcomes that have been established 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 duration of the online Security Awareness (PSA) Course is around 3 to 4 hours. A slight variance is allowed to accommodate different reading speeds, but the minimum time requirement must be fulfilled along with the relevant official assessments to successfully finish the course. This is a mandatory requirement under the MCA.

Official Assessments

Upon successful completion of each of the three Learning Outcomes within this online Security Awareness (PSA) Course, there is an official assessment that must be passed in order to move ono the following Learning Outcome. This is a requirement under the UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) to demonstrate your understanding and learning of the course subjects. Learners must achieve the minimum score of 70% on each of the Learning Outcomes to successfully complete and pass the course. The assessments are made up of multiple choice questions, and true or false response questions that are randomly selected from two sizeable banks of questions. You can read more information provided on assessments within the FAQs section of this page. This is referred to as an ‘open book’ assessment, and it is permissible to use any notes you have made or use the official course notes downloads that were made available to you during the course, in the assessments to research the correct responses.

Taking the Course Online or Offline

We provide you with the option to complete the course entirely online, as expected. Or via an offline capability accessible through an app, via Google Play or the Apple App Store. You can download the course to the app and study even while at sea or in areas with poor internet connectivity. Once you return to land or a location with good signal quality, you can upload the course to the system and synchronise it with your user area on the LMS []. For further information on accessing the course(s) offline, please reach out to us at

Pre-Requisites of Taking the Online Course

There are no pre-requisites for attending this online course.

Course Brochure

You can download a copy of the course brochure using the button in the top banner area.

Bulk Purchases

To make enquiries regarding bulk purchasing and associated discounts, please contact us at

  • 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

Security Encrypted PDF Certificate

Upon successful completion of the online course, verification of Learner ID, and the associated official Assessment, learners will receive an electronic certificate in a secure PDF format, encrypted for security. Typically, certificates are emailed to learners within 24 to 48 hours of confirming the course results. If the course is successfully completed on a Friday, over the weekend, or on a Bank Holiday, certificates will be sent on the next working day.

Hardcopy, Embossed Stamped Certificate

Learners have the option to request a hardcopy certificate with an embossed stamp to be delivered to their home address. It’s important to note that VIRSEC assumes no responsibility for any loss or delay of the certificate once it’s dispatched via Royal Mail. If a Carrier Service is requested, relevant charges will apply, and all payments must be made before dispatch.

Certification Renewal

Currently, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency does not impose expiry dates on Proficiency in Security Awareness (STCW ISPS) course certificates. Learners are not required to undergo refresher or re-certification unless mandated by their employer.

Expedited Course Certificate Service

In instances where learners require expedited certificate processing, such as outside of office hours, on weekends, during holidays, or under special circumstances, a surcharge of £49.95 GBP (+VAT) will be applied. Payment will be processed via a Secure Payment Link, and all payments must be settled before the certificate is dispatched.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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].

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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 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 Course Testimonial – Ryadh M.

The course is very well organized, the practice exams before the main exam helped a lot. The course was very helpful to me as I am going to work offshore soon. Great job!

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!

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: 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: 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: 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: Bernard R.

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

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

PSA Course Testimonial – Mano B.

Amazing course, pleasing to the eye with very useful info. I feel prepared to embark on a ship soon with more understanding of maritime security. Great job.