2020 IRSE Professional Exam changes - Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about the changes to the IRSE professional exam which will be implemented from October 2020

Why is the exam changing? The changes are intended to simplify the exam structure, use relevant and modern assessment techniques and encourage more railway professionals to learn about control and communications.

What is changing? The new professional exam will consist of four compulsory modules, detailed in the exam changes webpage.  Once of these will be a new “fundamentals of railway control engineering” qualification for 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). 

Do I need to find a sponsor and complete a sponsor declaration form?  Module A “fundamentals of railway control engineering” will not require a sponsor and it will be a pre-requisite for taking the other 3 new modules.  Sponsorship will remain in place for taking modules 1-7 in 2020,  Pre-qualification for taking advanced modules B, C or D by means of passing module A in 2021 will not be required for anyone who has at least one pass in a current module, but sponsorship may still be needed.

Can I sit all 4 modules in one day?  From 2021 no, as Module A (the pre-requisite module) will only be available in October each year.  If there is sufficient demand, Module A may be available to sit at least twice a year, enabling students to sit the full exam in one calendar year. 

I have already passed one or more current module, do I have to sit all 4 new modules?  No, all passes of current modules will remain valid and count towards the IRSE professional exam (Advanced diploma in railway control engineering).  Please see the online checker tool to see which new module(s) you need to sit to complete the exam.

I haven’t sat an exam for years, how can I show my employer that I know about railway control and communication systems?  Module A “fundamentals of railway control engineering” has been introduced to be a stand-alone qualification, giving you a “certificate in railway control engineering fundamentals”.  It will be a computer-based assessment, not requiring you to answer long questions and covers a wide range of subjects in railway control and communication systems engineering.

Will I be able to use the exam to “top up” my existing qualifications for IEng and CEng?  Yes, the full professional exam will remain at the same level.  For IRSE members, it has been agreed that an approved Higher National Diploma or Foundation degree plus passing the IRSE professional exam is sufficient to demonstrate knowledge and understanding for Incorporated Engineers.  In addition, it has been agreed that an accredited Batchelors degree plus passing the IRSE professional exam is sufficient to demonstrate knowledge and understanding for Chartered Engineers.

Will I be able to pass the exam just knowing signalling or telecommunications?  Yes, the principles and applications modules will contain sufficient questions for you to answer on signalling or telecoms subjects only.  Look at the sample question papers on the exam changes page to see how this will be done.

What has happened to “signalling the layout”?  The “signalling the layout” syllabus has been captured within the principles and applications modules.  Look at the sample question papers on the exam changes page to see how this will be done.

If you have any other questions, please contact the IRSE exam team.  Your question and the answer may be added to this list to help clarify the changes for others.