2020 IRSE Professional Exam changes

Thinking of taking the exam in 2020? 

  • Please take part in a short survey to help us plan
  • If you are planning to take modules 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and/or 7 do ensure that you have applied to become a member of the IRSE by 14 February 2020.
  • The application process for candidates wishing to sit the exam in 2020 (the final opportunity to sit modules 1-7 and the first opportunity to sit Module A - see below) will open soon - watch these pages for more information.

The IRSE Professional Examination is changing from 2020 onwards

IRSE Council has given the go-ahead for the first changes to the structure of the IRSE Professional Examination in 25 years.  The changes are intended to simplify the module structure, to introduce modern assessment techniques and to encourage a much wider population of railway professionals to learn about control and communications principles and practices whilst maintaining the high status of the exam.

Two qualifications will be available, a “certificate in railway control engineering fundamentals” and “advanced diploma in railway control engineering” (also remains as the full IRSE professional exam).

Passes in existing modules will be valid for the new exam indefinitely.  Please check the online tool to see which new module(s) you will have to sit to pass the full IRSE professional exam,

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

The changes are detailed below, with frequently asked questions available:

New stand-alone “certificate in railway control engineering fundamentals” qualification (also known as "module A fundamentals of railway control engineering")

From October 2020, a new qualification will be available “certificate in railway control engineering fundamentals” which covers all aspects of railway control engineering at a foundation level which will be a stand-alone qualification.  This makes it suitable for a much wider group of people working on or around railway control and communications systems (for example junior signalling and telecoms engineers, project managers and planners, software developers and mangers of contractors and sub-contractors).

This will be examined using a computer-based assessment in exam centres across the world.  Initially candidates will be able to sit Module A once a year in October.  If there is sufficient demand, then this will be increased to at least twice a year.

Module A will also be the mandatory pre-qualifier for all wishing to sit the full IRSE professional exam.  In the future this may remove the need for sponsorship by senior engineers and managers.

The syllabus and example questions are in the document library below.

Successful completion of Module A will lead to the new qualification "Certificate in Railway Control Engineering Fundamentals" being awarded.

New mandatory advanced modules in safety and systems, principles and applications (Modules B to D)

The syllabus of the professional exam is being split into three mandatory advanced modules available from October 2021.  You will need to have passed Module A (or module(s) from the current exam) and be a member of the institution before you can sit Modules B to D.

  • Module B: Railway safety and systems engineering
  • Module C: Principles of railway control and communication systems
  • Module D: Applications of railway control and communication systems

The syllabus and sample question papers for each module are in the document library below.

Successful completion of all four modules will lead to the IRSE professional examination and the new qualification "Advanced Diploma in Railway Control  Engineering" being awarded.