RADIO COMMUNICATIONS EXAMINATIONS AND COURSES
Harwell Amateur Radio Society (HARS) is a registered Examination Centre with the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB). We run Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced courses and examinations on a regular basis.
Course details, examination dates and application forms can be found here.
If you are
interested in attending one of our courses please send your name and address
How do I get started in Amateur Radio?
To be what is called a Radio Amateur in the UK you have to be ‘licensed’, and licences are available in a system of three progressive levels called ‘Foundation’, ‘Intermediate’ and ‘Advanced’.
The Foundation Licence is where everyone starts. It is the gateway into the hobby, and is the only way newcomers can become Radio Amateurs. After a short course and an exam covering the basics of Amateur Radio you could receive a Foundation Licence and make a start in this exciting new hobby.
The Intermediate Licence is the next stage in the hobby. This course builds on what has already been learned whilst introducing students to electronics and radio theory. An Intermediate Licence holder is allowed to use higher power and has greater privileges than that of a Foundation Licence holder.
The Advanced Licence is the final and highest level in hobby, and confers the maximum of privileges to the UK Radio Amateur. The course is mainly concerned with radio and electronics theory.
HARS offers courses for all three levels of Amateur Radio Licence. For each course there is a fee payable which covers all course materials, the exam fee, and complimentary membership of HARS for the rest of the year in which the course is taken.
All courses take place in the friendly and informal environment of the RAL Social club at Harwell. The teaching (using a mixture of computer presentations and other teaching methods) and the practical sessions are conducted by experienced radio amateur trainers whose knowledge and experience enable them to make the courses interesting and fun.
It is possible to self-study for any licence level and sit the exam at the same time as students who have taken a HARS course. If you wish to do that, please contact us and we will register you for the exam. You only have to pay the exam fee.
The Foundation Course
This is very much a beginners’ course, and concentrates on how to use a radio properly (within the rules of your licence) and above all safely. If you have no background in radio or electronics, or you did not enjoy science and maths at school, you need not worry. The course is designed to teach you everything you need to get your Foundation Licence.
Much of the training is practical, and covers essential skills eg how to connect up a simple station comprising a radio, a power supply and an antenna. On the course you will transmit on different types of Amateur Radio equipment (under supervision) and have a taste of Morse code. There is some teaching of radio and electronics theory, but only enough to prepare you for the exam.
The Foundation Licence exam is very straightforward and consists of 26 multiple choice questions which you have 45 minutes to answer. Your exam paper is marked by the invigilator right after the exam, so you will know your result straight away. If you have passed you can apply for your new licence on-line and in a few days you could be on the air as a new ‘M6’, transmitting the maximum power permitted to Foundation Licence holders of 10W.
The Foundation course is run over one complete weekend. The Foundation exam is held at the RAL Social club in the afternoon of the Sunday of the course.
There are no required qualifications or prerequisites for students wanting to take a Foundation Licence course.
The Intermediate Licence
Once you have gained experience at the Foundation level we are sure you will want to take the next step up to the Intermediate licence, which allows a greater degree of freedom in the hobby, including an increase in permitted power from 10W to 50W.
Again much of the training is practical, but on this course the emphasis is on constructional skills. In the course you will learn how to solder, recognize electronic components, and build a simple circuit. As part of the course students undertake a small radio-related construction project in their own time. This course also introduces the essentials of radio and electronics theory, building on the start that was made in the Foundation Licence course.
The Intermediate Licence exam consists of 45 multiple choice questions which you have 75 minutes to answer. Just as for the Foundation Licence exam, your paper is marked by the invigilator right after the exam, so you will know your result straight away. If you have passed you can apply for your new licence on-line and in a few days you could be on the air as a ‘2E0’.
The Intermediate Licence course is run over 2 weekends a month apart. This is to allow time for the construction project. The Intermediate exam is held at the RAL Social club in the afternoon of the second Sunday of the course.
Any student wanting to take an Intermediate Licence course must first pass the exam for the Foundation Licence.
The Advanced Licence
Many experienced Intermediate Licence holders find that they want to take the final step up to the Advanced Licence, which gives Radio Amateurs the greatest freedom in the hobby, including access to all bands, reciprocal licensing agreements abroad and an increase in permitted power from 50W to 400W. Advanced Licence holders are also allowed to transmit with home-built equipment.
The Advanced Licence course is a demanding one, and goes into detailed theory of radio and electronics theory. There is no practical work in this course as students will be Intermediate Licence holders and are likely to be active with their own stations and have areas of interest in the hobby eg contests or construction.
The Advanced Licence exam consists of 62 multiple-choice questions which you have 2 hours to answer. Unlike the Foundation and the Intermediate Licence exams, these exams are national exams and run to a fixed timetable. The papers must be sent away for marking so it is not possible to know if you have passed on the day.
The Advanced Licence course is run over 6 weekends, 1 weekend day per week. The Advanced exam is held at the RAL Social club to fall in with the national timetable of Advanced Exams which is specified by the RSGB.
Any student wanting to take an Advanced Licence course must first pass the exam for the Intermediate Licence.