What training is needed?

STEVE HARTLEY (GØFUW) during his Chairmanship of the RSGB Training and Education Committee wrote…

“Whilst I would be the first to recommend face-to-face training, especially for newcomers, there are circumstances where this is not appropriate.”

“Pre-qualified people can be fast tracked with little risk to ‘the hobby’; if someone is capable of building and flying a research satellite, they are unlikely to need six weeks going through the likes of Ohms law and how to interpret a frequency to wavelength conversion chart. It is a fair bet they can read the text book in an afternoon and fill in gaps in their operating knowledge through doing good practical assessments.

There are those who, for various reasons, are unable to get to conventional classes (eg disabled, those with caring responsibilities, those who work shifts). If they are keen they can be guided through the books using e-mail or social media with 1:1 assessments and exams arranged by mutual agreement and sensible care over sensitive cases. Home exams for those that cannot get to an exam centre are allowed and there is a process to make that happen.”


The Foundation Licence is the amateur radio entry level. Each level must be passed before the next level can be attempted, for those who are confident all three exams can be taken in the same day as long as the practical requirements have been completed and remain valid at the time of the exams. Whether you are just starting out or ready to move on to the next level the course books (book list below) available from the RSGB’s On-line bookshop and elsewhere, are recommended for study.

Essex Ham have an on-line Foundation Licence course which achieves a good exam success rate and is a good place to start your journey into Amateur Radio.

• Thurrock Acorns ARC is happy to support people on the Essex Ham course or taking one of the exams, at no charge. If you feel you need that extra support, please contact us.

Book List

The Foundation Licence Manual for Radio Amateurs
The Intermediate Licence Manual for Radio Amateurs
The Full Licence Manual for Radio Amateurs
Amateur Radio Exam Secrets (not essential but relevant at all three levels, including
  exam style questions for each)

Important Notes:

✲ The above books replace earlier RSGB titles.
✲ Corrections and updates to the above and other books are posted from time to time on the RSGB’s Books Extra page. It is recommended that the updates be applied to your training books and that you check for changes prior to sitting the exam.

The RSGB’s Resources for trainers and students page is well worth visiting, having links to many sources of information and training at all levels. For each stage you should read the syllabus which can be downloaded from the RSGB’s Exam Specifications – Syllabus 2019 page.

The Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in the UK led to the dropping the practical elements from the licence requirements. A set of videos to explaining the practical skills that would normally be covered at Foundation level are available on the RSGB foundation-practicals-video-guides page.

When you are ready to tackle the advanced, you might consider joining the Bath Distance Learning Advanced Course as it has a very high pass rate. A deposit is required to join which is fully refunded as long as you complete the course.


The RSGB’s book Getting Started in Amateur Radio includes sections on operating procedures and etiquette, antennas, setting up a station, propagation, etc., for the beginner. Also included is an IARU publication, Ethics and operational procedures for the radio amateur (PDF), which includes a section listing Q-codes used in Amateur Radio communication.

Ofcom the regulator responsible for UK spectrum licensing, including amateur radio, provides Information for amateur radio licensees on it’s website.