Assessment in Marine Cookery
Assessment in Marine Cookery
Assessment in Marine Cookery

In June 2019 Leiths took over delivery of the Assessment in Marine Cookery from Tante Marie Culinary Academy.

The Ships’ Cook Certificate is a mandatory requirement for all chefs on UK-registered commercial vessels operating more than 60 miles offshore and with 10 or more seafarers on board. This qualification replaces the previous Merchant Shipping (Certificate of Ships’ Cooks) Regulations 1981.

Ships’ cooks may qualify from the age of 18 and with a minimum of one month at sea. To be eligible for the Ships’ Cook Certificate, applicants are required to have completed Standards of Training Certification, Watchkeeping (STCW) basic safety courses and hold a current Medical Fitness Certificate. Therefore this assessment is only part of the overall certification process.

The Leiths assessment takes place over three days and includes a two day cooking assessment in the newly refurbished professional Leiths kitchens, and a theory exam. You will also require a face to face training in Level 2 Award in Food Safety in Catering which does not form part of the Leiths assessment. Please ask us for advice if you require this. The fee for this course does not include the Food Safety Level 2. Taking the Leiths Assessment in Marine Cookery will enable successful candidates to apply to the MCA for their Ships’ Cook Certificate, subject to the MCA's certification criteria.

Course content Assessment in Marine Cookery

The Assessment in Marine Cookery – the Ships’ Cook Assessment – is a vital step in achieving the compulsory Ships’ Cook Certificate of Competency.

This course is ideally suited to experienced chefs who are already working onboard a vessel and who need to update their certification, or to chefs who have solid industry experience and wish to begin a career at sea.

Students will work through revision material using an online ‘Virtual Learning Environment’ (VLE) before taking an in-person assessment at a Leiths.

Course Outline Assessment in Marine Cookery

Preparation and assessment is run over three days.

This assessment forms part of the application to the Maritime Coastguard Agency for full Ships’ Cook Certification. Applicants will additionally need to complete the other requirements as specified under MCA MSN 1846, which can be found here.

Please be aware that you will be sent a login (once your fees have been settled) to review the revision material before the course starts. You should allow at least half a day to review the content for the theory assessment on Day 1.

Areas which will be covered will include the relevant MCA requirements, namely:

  • Health and Safety
  • Kitchen Operations, costs and menu planning
  • Dietary Requirements of Shift Workers
  • Applying work place skills
  • Cultural and Religious Requirements
  • Healthier Foods and Special Diets


A number of learning outcomes will be covered within the kitchen practical assessment and in addition, some of the criteria will also be covered in the theory assessment. Full details of the criteria can be found in MCA MSN 1846 Annex 2.

The key food knowledge and preparation areas to be covered in both the theoretical written examination and the practical assessment will be:

  • Prepare and cook soups and sauces
  • Prepare and cook fruits and vegetables
  • Prepare and cook meat and offal
  • Prepare and cook poultry
  • Prepare and cook fish and shellfish
  • Prepare and cook rice, pasta, grains and egg dishes
  • Prepare and cook desserts and puddings
  • Prepare and cook bakery products

A typical course schedule will consist of:

Day 1: Afternoon

Theory assessment examination covering:

  • Kitchen operations, costs and menu planning
  • Applying work place skills
  • Healthier foods and special diets
  • Cultural and religious catering requirements
  • Dietary requirements of shift workers

This is a written examination which has a total of 60 questions: 40 multiple choice and 20 marks for written answers, consisting of 5 questions worth 4 marks each.

The required pass mark is 70%.

Once all candidates have completed the theory assessment, they will receive a briefing on kitchen orientation and skills.

Candidates will then be issued with the recipes on which they will be assessed, enabling them to prepare for the assessment.

Candidates will be permitted use of these recipes and any notes during the assessment.

Day 2

One day practical kitchen-based assessment in:

  • Pastry
  • Bakery
  • Desserts

The outcome of assessment by Leiths chef assessors will be determined as ‘Competent’ or ‘Not Competent’.

Day 3

One day practical kitchen-based assessment in:

  • Soups
  • Starters
  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Vegetables

The outcome of assessment by Leiths chef assessors will be determined as ‘Competent’ or ‘Not Competent’.

NOTE: The MCA no longer accept ‘online’ courses, a course must be delivered in person. If a person already has a FS certificate and is unsure whether it can be accepted, they should check the MSN 1846 or refer directly to the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency)


Candidates will be provided with a menu for assessment the day before. In the first 30 minutes of assessment, candidates will be required to produce a time plan outlining the order of dishes to be prepared, timings for presentation of each dish and how they will ensure food safety based on HACCP.

Candidates will be assessed on hot and cold desserts, fermented goods, bread and pastry.

All competencies and food preparation requirements for assessment can be found in MCA MSN 1846 Document, Annex 2, which can be found here.


Candidates will be provided with a menu for assessment the day before. Candidates will be required to produce a time plan outlining the order of dishes to be prepared, timings for presentation of each dish and how they will ensure food safety based on HACCP. This will be done in their own time, the night before.

Candidates will then prepare, cook, finish, serve and evaluate each dish under assessment conditions.

The Chef Assessor will confirm the ranges covered and if competency has been demonstrated. Candidates may be asked additional verbal questions to ensure knowledge and competency in the skills assessment module.

Candidates will be allowed to take breaks during the assessment according to their own time management skills. Any breach of safe food practices or health and safety working practices will result in failure of the assessment.


Leiths School of Food and Wine will provide successful candidates with a recognised Assessment Award (and Level 2 Food Safety Certification, if applicable) to submit to the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA). Candidates must complete the Application for UK (MLC) Ship’s Cook Certificate of Competency (SCC) using application form MSF4395 (available on the VLE).

Please note that this Certificate of Competency and Level 2 Food Safety Certification will constitute part of the MCA certification and applicants will also need to comply with the additional requirements as outlined in MCA MSN 1846, Section 3, which can be found here.

Eligibility and Application Process Assessment in Marine Cookery

Requirements – Please read this information carefully

• Fees should be settled in full, at time of booking

• Candidates must be aged 18 or over

• Candidates must have competent spoken and written English and numeracy skills, including using a calculator

• Prior to attending Leiths, candidates must review the revision material accessed through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Your signed Marine Cookery Enrolment Form, along with a copy of your passport, should be sent to: Registrar, Leiths School of Food & Wine, 16-20 Wendell Road, London, W12 9RT, UK or by e-mail:

You should include
• Your CV and a covering application letter.
• Copies of your Cookery Certificates, HABC or equivalent for Food Safety to the Registrar.

Students were previously required to hold a professional cookery qualification at U.K. Level 2. This is no longer a requirement, just a recommendation. Students’ cooking will be assessed to this level, but previous professional experience may be sufficient to meet this standard.

Preparing for the course Assessment in Marine Cookery

Candidates should recognise that this is an assessment of skills not a teaching course. It is advised that candidates read the Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria within the MCA document, MCA MSN 1846, which can be found here.

It is important that you identify any areas or skill sets of which you are unsure. This is necessary as any one of the Assessment Criteria may come up.

For more information on finance and payment plans, please contact our Registrar at or call directly at 020 8749 6400.

FAQ’s Assessment in Marine Cookery


The Assessment in Marine Cookery verifies that a candidate has been assessed by an accredited organisation and proves competency in the learning outcomes in Annexes 1 and 2 of MCA MSN 1846, which can be found here. It replaces the Merchant Shipping (Certificate of Ship’s Cooks) Regulations 1981, which have been revoked. It sets out the minimum training requirements for all ship’s cooks and catering staff. New training prerequisites take religious requirements and practices into account as they pertain to food as well as duration and nature of the voyage.

The requirements relating to ships’ cooks do not apply to ships which:

  • only operate within 60 miles of a safe haven, and
  • ordinarily operate with fewer than ten seafarers on board.


Whilst the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will accept certain qualifications as Accredited Prior Learning (refer to MCA MSN 1846 which can be found here) these qualifications do not meet the required Learning Outcomes in their entirety. All chefs will have to be assessed in person to ensure all Learning Outcomes are met and that they meet the minimum standards.

In addition, the MCA do not accept any online qualifications (including Food Safety Level 2). Any chef and crew involved in the processing, preparation and handling of food for others need to hold a valid Level 2 Food Safety Certificate. At Leiths, the Level 2 Food Safety Certificate can be incorporated within the Assessment in Marine Cookery for an additional £50 fee. Subject to availability (please call the school to inquire).


Please read the MCA MSN 1846 (M) and MCA MIN531 (M) documents which list the requirements for eligibility and previous accreditation and qualifications. If you meet the requirements, please go ahead and book online.


On the first day of your course you will need to provide:

  • Valid photographic proof of identity, such as your passport
  • Your own clean chef’s uniform, apron, protective head/beard covering
  • Your own knives for the days of the kitchen-based assessments
  • Pen and notebook

Lunch will not be provided, however you will be able to eat what you have prepared, alternatively, Leiths is situated just off the Askew Road where there are numerous restaurants and coffee shops.


Leiths will provide all the recipes and ingredients needed to complete the cooking elements and will also provide you with advice and online help prior to in-house assessments.


No, the Assessment in Marine Cookery is just one of the components required to apply for a ships cook certificate.

You can read more about the components required in the MSN 1846 legislation : https://assets.publishing.serv...


Providing a candidate has been successful, a certificate ‘Assessment of Marine Cookery’ will be awarded to them before they leave on the third day.


The theory assessment pass mark set by the MCA is 70%. The theory assessment is made up of 40 multiple choice questions with 5 written answers. As long as a candidate takes the time to read through the theory material (we suggest at least half a day) than they should be prepared.

In a situation where a candidate does not achieve the required mark, we are able to offer them supplementary questions. This only applies within a certain boundary where supplementary questions will physically enable someone’s mark to improve by the required level. The candidate must be competent in spoken and written English. We will not mark them down for spellings however the understanding must be there.

The Ships Cook Certificate as a whole is not simply an assessment of an individual’s cooking ability, but of the wider theoretical and professional abilities as a cook which, on British registered vessels, (on which the legislation applies) include the need to be able to understand documents which will be written in English, such as health and safety notices, communications with port authorities etc.

* All prices correct at time of publishing. Please note that prices are likely to change at the end of each financial year (April).



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