Ships and marine vehicles can be classified into military vessels which include frigates, destroyers, patrol vessels, aircraft carriers, mine hunters and submarines; trading vessels which include cargo and container ships; and commercial vessels which include fishing boats, tugs, dredges, pilot boats, lighthouse supply craft, servicing vessels for oil rigs, crew transfer, passenger and vehicle ferries, floating cranes, and other specialised ships and pleasure craft. These three categories of marine vehicles can be in the form of a monohull (the usual single-hull ship or boat), a multihull catamaran or trimaran (a twin or triple hull vessel), or dynamically supported craft such as hovercraft (an air-cushion vehicle) or hydrofoil (a vessel that is lifted out of the water by submerged wings).  

Naval architects must be conversant with a wide variety of skills, including most forms of engineering and marine architecture. A ship must be a completely self-sufficient vehicle containing several systems and able to withstand the loads from the sea.  

ATAR indicative


Degree type



4 years full-time

Commencing terms

Semester 1

Program code


Delivery mode

On campus

Study naval architecture at UNSW Canberra

This program runs in parallel with Mechanical Engineering for the first two years. The faculty has approved an arrangement whereby students who satisfy the requirements of the first two years of a mechanical engineering four-year degree program at any Australasian tertiary institution may be admitted to Years 3 and 4 of the program, leading to the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Naval Architecture. The proviso is that the courses studied at the other institution are equivalent.

Building on a foundation in the engineering sciences and Mechanical Engineering in particular, the third and fourth year of study in the Naval Architecture degree covers ship stability, ship hydrodynamics, ship resistance and propulsion, ship design, ship structures, seaworthiness, engineering management and engineering materials.

Kickstart your career as a naval architect

Naval architecture firms and consultants are significant employers of naval architects. Naval architects working in the field of high-speed ferries have been particularly successful. Australia holds the leading position in the research and development of passenger and cargo multihulls.  

The Commonwealth Department of Defence White Paper (2016) reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to a strong, internationally competitive and sustainable Australian naval shipbuilding industry which will rely heavily on naval architects. The Commonwealth’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan (2017) identified naval architects as key enablers in the Australian naval shipbuilding workforce. Employment of naval architects within the defence sector occurs within the Department of Defence and the RAN. 

In addition, federal and state government departments and statutory authorities such as AMSA and state transport departments employ naval architects, as do international classification societies such as Lloyd’s Register, DNV and Bureau Veritas. 

Graduates of the program are expected to meet UNSW Graduate Capabilities embodied in the Program Learning Outcomes and Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competencies. 

Chief of the Defence Force Program

The Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) programs offer the opportunity for students entering UNSW Canberra with a high Entrance Rank, and who maintain a high level of performance in their studies, to undertake research in a range of disciplines that will develop their critical thinking and independent research skills beyond that available in the standard bachelor degree programs.

The range of CDF programs is characterised by the inclusion of specialist courses in critical analysis and/or research methods appropriate to the area of study. All programs also include discipline-specific research projects. The research projects will be supervised by academic staff from the relevant discipline. With the approval of the Head of School, multi- or cross-disciplinary projects may be undertaken. Students in the research courses may work independently or as part of a team, depending on the nature of the project undertaken, though all students will submit an individual assessment. The final assessment will be based on a written paper or report and oral presentations. 

Throughout the program, students will be engaged in cohort activities so as to develop and maintain their interest and continuing involvement in the program via invited lectures, seminars, general reading and social events.

Key contacts

Student Enquiries

T: (02) 5114 5000 

Available to
ADFA Trainee Officers
ADF Current Serving Members

Assumed knowledge
Mathematics, physics

Additional selection criteria
Defence Force Recruiting process