RSGB Syllabus 2019 Changes

The new RSGB syllabus for Foundation, Intermediate and Full was released on the 15th of August 2018.

The changes will have a significant impact on training and exams from 2019. Information is scattered across the Internet, so we’ve put this page together to keep things in one place.

Are you a Student?

The new (harder) syllabus starts from September 2019. As an example, at Foundation, there will be around 250 examinable items – currently there are around 130. Extra practicals have been added too.

The obvious question is – do you take your exam now, or wait? In our opinion, the RSGB has decided to make Foundation and Intermediate significantly harder to pass from September 2019. Additionally, the extra practical exercises at Foundation and Intermediate mean courses will likely be longer, and some clubs have already indicated that they no longer be able to offer training, due to the costs and complexities around the new content. Here’s our summary:

  • Foundation: Our advice is to take your exam before September 2019. Good quality courses are readily available now, and the current Foundation exam and practicals are easier than what’s planned for August 2019 onwards
  • Intermediate: Our advice is to take your exam before September 2019. Good quality courses are readily available now, and the current Intermediate exam and practicals are easier than what’s planned for September 2019 onwards
  • Full: This one is harder to answer. The September 2019 syllabus involves significantly more material than the current one, but there is better distribution between Intermediate and Full, so the new Full exam won’t be such a massive jump. There may be a potential knowledge-hole, in that if you have an Intermediate pre-September 2019, and sit Full exam post-September 2019, the Full exam may assume that you covered something in Intermediate that you didn’t when you sat your Intermediate. Life will be better for people moving from post-2019 Intermediate to Full, but may be complex for those caught between the changes

Your questions answered:

  • Will there be new books? Yes. According to the RSGB, estimates are: Foundation in March 2019 and  Intermediate in January 2019. The new Full manual was released in August 2018 and is available from RSGB. Existing books for pre-September 2019 are still available, but shouldn’t be used for any level after September 2019
  • Will there be an overlap? Yes. Between September and November 2019, where delayed exams or resits using the old syllabus will still be possible. From December 2019, you can only take the new exams
  • Why is the RSGB making it harder to get into amateur radio? The official answer is that the syllabus needed to be brought up-to-date, new material (such as new modes and radios), and to aid the transition between the three levels. We conducted surveys in 2017 and 2018 showing that the majority of trainers and amateurs supported bringing things up-to-date, but not to making the entry-level courses harder.
  • Will Ham Train be offering Foundation Online Course for the new syllabus? We’re still waiting for material from the RSGB so that we can assess the changes.

Are you a Tutor?

For the new Syllabus, go here: RSGB Syllabus 2019 – Note that, when released on the 15th of August 2018, only the Syllabus was published, not the Specification. This means that key information, diagrams, tables, etc were not published. No date has been given for delivery of all the material needed by tutors to help plan for the changes.

Summary of changes:

  • Foundation: Increase from 130 to around 250 examinable points. New content (digital radios, SDR, etc), and large chunks of theory and safety dropped down from Intermediate. Stays at 26 questions. A new electronics practical (LED, resistors in parallel)
  • Intermediate: New content (digital radios, SDR, etc), and large chunks of theory Full. 46 questions (increase of 1). A new electronics practical (LED, resistors in parallel). Six new practicals added (oscillator ‘heat & hit’, harmonics, filters, electronics), two removed (mains plug, diodes) and two made more complex (circuits, transistor gain)
  • Full: We’ve not reviewed this in detail yet, but initial impression is that more have been removed (or dropped to Intermediate) than has been added – There are some significant changes though.  Exam is now 58 questions (reduced by 4).

We’ve got some more detail here:

Tutor Training Material

  • What training material is RSGB providing to help us get ready? RSGB TEC (Training & Education Committee) is reportedly working on something. No dates or information have been released material. Best to contact TEC for information
  • Will Essex Ham be offering training material (slides, videos, online course, etc) for the new syllabus? If RSGB is producing something, there may be no need for material from us. As of October 2018, we still don’t have enough information from RSGB to allow us to update our material.

RSGB Syllabus Review History:

  • May 2013: RCF Exam Committee agreed to start on a 3-4 year syllabus review, in conjunction with RSGB TEC (RCF EC report May 2013)
  • June 2014: RCF Exam Committee had started a 2-3 year syllabus review (RCF EC report June 2014)
  • April 2016: ESC and TEC still working on a new syllabus expected for publication in April 2017 (RSGB ESC report April 2016)
  • May 2017: ESC and TEC still working on a new syllabus. Draft nearly complete (RSGB ESC report May 2017)
  • June 2017: Draft version of new syllabus published for consultation (RSGB ESC Website)
  • May 2018: New Syllabus completed and approved by Ofcom (RSGB ESC report May 2018)
  • August 2018: Approved syllabus published, without supporting documentation (RSGB website 15 Aug 18)

RSGB Syllabus Consultation

The RSGB released an 86-page draft syllabus review document in June 2017. The RSGB received over 200 responses to the consultation. Our own survey elicited over 275 comments, and we also run a tutor’s straw poll. Our own submission was made to RSGB, combining feedback from over 300 amateurs and trainers. Some links:

Essex Ham’s Submission to RSGB

Want updates from us about the RSGB Syllabus Review? Join our unofficial UK Trainers Discussion Group

Other Links