Foundation Course

The course


To us the Foundation course is the most important of Amateur Radio, This is the only exam that once passed allows you to start talking on the air but don't be put off, it's also the easiest and the course can be usually completed in just a few weeks. With this in mind, the Foundation course is not scheduled and can be run on an individual basis or as a group on request at any time. The course is held only at the club premises but can include off-site practical training if deemed suitable.

Most of the training is practical, there is a small amount of radio and electronics theory but only enough for you to appreciate things like using the correct fuses in your equipment and how to build an antenna to get the most out of your radio station.

Your course will take 10 to 12 hours to complete, and can be spread out over a few weeks.


All Foundation licence holders are required to demonstrate that they can connect and use an amateur radio transmitter and antenna. The practical assessments have to be completed in front of a Registered Assessor – Normally, a local amateur radio club can help with practical sessions.

The tutors hand-hold you through the process and assess you as the course progresses. The practical part of the course helps you to understand what to do when you get your licence, and how to get on-air safely. Practicals include:

Basic radio operation – Tuning in, changing frequency and transmitting
Connecting a radio, antenna and power supply
A short transmission on a VHF/UHF amateur band
A short transmission on an HF amateur band
Adjusting a dipole antenna
Sending and receiving a short phrase in Morse code (you don’t need to learn Morse)

The exam

Don’t be put off by the thought of having to do an exam.

The Foundation exam is very straightforward and consists of 26 multiple choice questions which you have 55 minutes to answer.

The questions are in the following categories:

Amateur Radio and Licence Rules
Technical Basics
Transmitters & Receivers
Feeders and Antennas
Signal Propagation
EMC (avoidance of interference)
Operating Practices
Your exam paper is checked by the invigilator straight after the exam so you will have a good idea if you have passed before you leave.

The formal marking is carried out electronically at the RSGB Examinations Department.