Institution of Structural Engineers > Membership > Examination > Specialist Diploma in Seismic Engineering

Specialist Diploma in Seismic Engineering

The Specialist Diploma Examination in Seismic Engineering is a technical qualification that will test your competence in this specialist area at an advanced level.
The certificate received on passing the exam will demonstrate to current or potential employers that you have achieved a high level of competence in that area, which has been independently verified. The diploma will carry the authority and credibility of an internationally recognised professional engineering institution with a reputation for high standards and rigorous examinations. The diploma is not associated with routes to Institution membership and as such can be taken by members and non-members with no requirement for prior assessment of qualifications or experience.

Please read the Specialist Diploma Examinations FAQs for more information.

Specific skills candidates will be tested on

Using your specialist knowledge of seismic design you will be asked to prepare a design appraisal with appropriate sketches indicating two distinct and viable solutions for the proposed structure and the effects of a load on that structure. You will be required to carry out design checks on key members of the proposed scheme.

Upcoming Exams

Date: Thursday 4 January 2018
Cost: £210
Duration: 3.5 hours
Test centres: Worldwide
Applications for the Specialist Diplomas are accepted throughout the year.  Please complete the Seismic application form if you would like to apply for the next examination on Thursday 4 January 2018.

Registration closes on 24 November 2017.

About the new Specialist Diploma Examinations

The Institution is committed to competency and recognises the significant responsibility entrusted to structural engineers and the obligation placed on them to ensure the safety of all who use the structures they have designed. The Institution also recognises increased specialisation within structural engineering and the need for individuals to demonstrate competence in those specialist areas. As such, the Institution has established a new Seismic and Dynamic Events Panel and launched Specialist Diploma Examinations in Seismic Engineering and Offshore Structural Engineering in 2017.
Please note: The Specialist Diplomas are not associated with routes to Institution membership.

A sample question and the 2017 papers can be found on the following links:

Potential candidates for this diploma may be interested in a course being run over two half days by the North Thames Regional Group and SECED in September 2017.  Further details and a booking form can by found in this attachment.


1. What qualifications do I need to sit the Specialist Diploma?

There is no requirement to have a specific qualification to sit the Specialist Diplomas. They are open to both members and non-members of the Institution. Anyone with several years of experience in either Offshore Engineering or Seismic Design Engineering can sit a Specialist Diploma examination.

2. What is the format of the Specialist Diploma examination?

The examination asks the candidate to provide a design appraisal with appropriate sketches, indicating two distinct and viable solutions for the proposed structure. Candidates will be asked to recommend the best solution and give a reason for their choice. Additionally, in the case of the Offshore Diploma, the candidate will be required to prepare sufficient design calculations to establish the form and size of all the principal structural elements. The Seismic Diploma candidates will be asked to consider the load and to carry out design checks on key members of their proposed scheme.

3. What is the duration of the Specialist Diploma examination?

The Specialist Diploma examination is 3.5 hours long. It starts at 9.30am and finishes at 1pm. 15 minutes of reading time will be allowed from 9.15am.

4. Is the Specialist Diploma examination open book?

Yes, you can take written/printed materials into the exam room with you. You will also be allowed to take a calculator into the exam room, but you will not be permitted to take any other electronic devices with you. This includes any device capable of sending or receiving messages, such as a smart watch.

5. When will I receive the result of my Specialist Diploma examination?

Examination results will be released in the third week of April. Candidates will be contacted nearer the time to advise them of the results release date. The results will be released online via My Account, and formal notification will then be posted to you.

6. What qualification will I have if I achieve a pass in the Diploma?

A certificate with the Institution’s seal will be provided to those who pass either Diploma. The Diploma will carry the authority and credibility of an internationally recognised professional engineering institution with a reputation for high standards and rigorous examinations.

7. Does passing the Specialist Diploma replace any part of the Chartered Membership application process?

There is no connection with the Specialist Diploma and any part of the Chartered Membership process. Anyone who successfully completes a Specialist Diploma will need to follow the full interview and exam process to become either an Associate-Member or a Chartered Member.

8. Will I receive feedback if I fail the examination?

Examiner feedback can be provided on request once the results have been published.

9. Can I re-take the diploma if I fail this time?

Candidates are welcome to make another attempt at the Diploma if they are unsuccessful in the January 2017 examination. The Diploma examinations are held twice a year on the same date as the Institution’s Chartered and Associate Membership examinations. The next exam will take place on Friday 7 July 2017.

10. Why is the IStructE doing this?

These are areas of structural engineering where there is often a demand for validation of skills, and where the chartered exam does not provide a specialist certification. The exam has been developed to both meet this need and encourage development of skills in these areas.

11. Will the seismic exam help me to achieve licencing recognition in my country/region?

The exam test skills in conceptual design and competence in designing safe structures. It is not testing knowledge of specific regulations, which vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Where such knowledge is tested in the jurisdiction, this exam does not replace that. However, passing this exam will signify to employers and others your competence in design.

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