It is designed to test candidates' knowledge of railway signal and telecommunications principles and practices and is modular in nature, allowing students to answer questions that are relevant to their particular subject specialism and experience. The examination is held in a number of centres around the world, generally on the first Saturday in October. Applicants for modules 1-7 of the current exam format and modules B-D of the new format must already be members of the Institution and all applications to sit the examination must be made by 30 June of that year.
The next exam date is Saturday 3rd October 2020.
Currently there are seven exam modules and to gain the full IRSE Exam, it is necessary to achieve a Pass in four of them. Module 1 is compulsory and you choose a further three modules to suit your experience and specialism. There is no time limit for completing the exam, so you do not have to sit all four in any one year.
The exam syllabus provides a description of the topics covered in each of the modules and indicates the breadth and the depth of knowledge required. IRSE members have access t0 exam support resources for Modules 1-7, available through the members’ area of the website. All members and non-members have access to the Module A exam support resources available on this website. Some members may be able to gain exemption from some or all of the exam modules, please read the exam equivalence guidance document if you are interested in this.
The exam regulations ensure that all candidates are given the same opportunities and that the examinations are conducted in a fair manner, we advise that you read these regulations before applying to take the exam.
Awards are available to candidates who achieve outstanding marks in the exam.
IRSE Council has given the go-ahead for the first changes to the structure of the IRSE professional examination in 25 years.
The most significant change is the creation of a new module "fundamentals of railway control engineering" which covers all aspects of railway control engineering at a foundation level which will be a stand alone qualification called "certificate in railway control engineering fundamentals".
For the "full" exam, there will be four mandatory modules as listed below. Passing all four (or an agreed combination of existing and new modules) will lead you to be awarded an "advanced diploma in railway control engineering):
For more details including syllabuses and example questions for each module, please see the exam changes page.
Before applying for modules 1 to 7, you must gain endorsement from a Sponsor (an IRSE Fellow or Member) who is familiar with your abilities and experience and considers you capable of passing your selected Exam modules, further details in the Exam Application Guidance document in the Exam Support Materials area. Once you have received written authority from the IRSE, you may complete the Online Application Form. Under no circumstances will applications be accepted without appropriate endorsement. If you have not registered to gain access to the members’ area already, click here
It is important to apply to sit any module(s) of the exam only when you are prepared so please take the time to read the information for candidates and other documents on this page.
For each year, the key dates for all potential candidates and their sponsors are as follows:
Note that October 2020 will be the last opportunity to sit the exam in it's current format (modules 1-7) and also will be the first opportunity to sit fundamentals of railway control engineering (module A). From October 2021, only the new format exam will be available.