Getting Licensed

Amateur (Ham) Radio requires a licence from the government. You will need to pass a test, and then apply for a callsign before getting on the air. At CUWS we can help with any of the three licence grades in the UK: Foundation, Intermediate and Full. The licence you receive is now free, and valid for life. From January 2023 there should be an alternative single “DIrect to Full” licence exam for those who want a fast track, but the three exams taken sequentially provide an alternative. CUWS does not recommend the “Direct to Full” exam as there is only a small discount on the individual exams and the pass mark is higher. All the exams are available online with remote invigilation. Exam manuals can be borrowed from CUWS.

Foundation Licence Training with CUWS
The Foundation Licence came into being on 1 January 2002. For the first time it allowed anybody to get a basic Amateur Radio licence with no formal external examinations, no theory to learn and without needing to devote much time to studying. All that is involved is a simple multiple-choice exam. If you pass this, you receive the paperwork to apply for a new and free of charge Foundation licence straightaway.

The licence allows for use of up to ten watts in selected portions of most of the Amateur Radio bands, with allocations from LF (137kHz) right up into UHF (440MHz). Ten watts might not seem like much compared to the 400W full licence limit but it is perfectly possible to make contacts into Europe and often beyond with such low power, especially if you take advantage of CUWS’ big aerials!

The first CUWS training session took place at Caius College during the weekend of 16-17 March 2002, and all nine candidates (who ranged from a 12 year-old school student to a visiting Dr. from the Caribbean) passed. The second and third courses were held in June and August when a further twelve candidates passed. Since then, we have had many more passes and the exam is available online with remote invigilation. Please email Martin G3ZAY ( if you would like information on the exam or would like to borrow an exam manual. All of the physics is generally lower than GCSE level so this licence really is possible for Arts students to do as well as STEM students!

The Intermediate Licence
Exams are available online similar to the Foundation licence. This licence allows more frequencies to be used with a power of up to 50W as well as the use of satellites. This allows communication over much further distances than the foundation and there is more provision for you to use equipment that you have built yourself. Again CUWS can lend you the exam manual.

The Full Licence
The top level of UK licence is also available by remote online invigilation and CUWS can lend you the manual. This licence allows operation on all the Amateur bands at power levels of up to 400W. This will quite easily achieve worldwide communications.

Since the middle of 2003, the requirement to learn Morse code (CW) has been removed.