As Dive Leaders, after attendance on the Instructor Foundation Course (IFC), and passing the Theory Instructor Exam (TIE), you will be a qualified Theory Instructor (TI) and be issued with a TI number.

The TIE involves a theory knowledge paper and a ten-minute classroom presentation and a pass in both elements are required for the Theory Instructor award.

Teaching the theory that underpins practical diving skills is of course key to the success of teaching diving.

Those who have attended the IFC, have reached the Dive Leader grade and are 18 years or older.

Passing this exam enables instructors to teach classroom and dry practical lessons up to Dive Leader level without the need for supervision by an Open Water Instructor (OWI). Successful completion of both elements of the TIE will result in the award of a Theory Instructor qualification.

Typical timetable on the day

The Theory Instructor Exam (TIE) will take around half a day.

  • The day will start with an overall brief from the lead examiner on the day.
  • You will then be split into groups typically of up to six candidates and two examiners. The running order will be agreed.
  • You will be allowed time between lessons to prepare the room for each lesson.
  • Each candidate will present a ten-minute classroom lesson that they have prepared.
  • When all candidates have given their classroom presentations, there will usually be a short break before the multiple-choice diving theory knowledge exam paper is taken. This has 60 questions on diving theory up to Dive Leader level, and includes some questions on instructing. You will have an hour to complete this knowledge assessment paper.
  • The exam will conclude with a debrief from the lead examiner. They will highlight good teaching practices seen on the day, the need to continually develop as an Instructor and next steps. (The lead examiner will not discuss marks or any specific points arising from the lessons.)

Please note: In certain locations a PIE may be offered on the same day. Please call BSAC on 0151 350 6203 to enquire about this.

In the exam you will need to present a lesson. The topic for the lesson will be sent to you with the joining instructions for the event two weeks before the exam. It is essential that you plan and prepare properly. You’re advised to practice the presentation before the day of the exam.

The lesson topics are drawn from the Diver Training Programme (DTP) up to and including Dive Leader. The lesson you are asked to present will be of ten minutes duration. You will need to plan lecture materials to ensure that you cover the 'must know' information within that time and not give just an overview. Typical examples of lessons you may be asked to deliver:

  • Dive computers
  • Decompression illness – signs
  • The regulator
  • Wreck diving
  • Preventing accidents

On the IFC you will have planned a theory lesson. You should apply a similar process to your planning for this event. The key to a good classroom lesson is that it meets the essential PAVE criteria.  It must be Progressive (the content is broken down into small steps that flow in a logical order); Accurate and up to date; Visual (big, clear, colourful, simple visual aids that illustrate your main points); and Effective (‘must know’ information is covered in suitable depth).

Two weeks before the event joining instructions are sent out with details of the event, venue and what to bring plus local contacts and accommodation lists should they be required.

Some regions provide optional TIE Preparation events which may be useful for anyone that would like to do some ‘brushing up’ before the exam. Book a TIE Prep event

After the exam

  • The examiner and lead examiners prepare reports for the event and for each candidate.
  • The results are then approved by the Chief Examiner.
  • Once the finalised and approved results are back at BSAC, the results are sent out to participants.
  • Each candidate will receive a written assessment sheet detailing their performance in the exam, against the essential criteria.
  • If both elements of the TIE are successfully completed the candidate will qualify for either a Theory Instructor or Open Water Instructor Award. They will also be sent the relevant logbook sticker stating their instructor number and in the case of OWI an instructor qualification card.

Please note: The above process can take up to four weeks. However, after two weeks candidates can phone BSAC on 0151 350 6203 to find out if they have passed or failed. BSAC staff are not authorised to give the results over the phone to anyone other than the candidate themselves.


Should a candidate feel their report does not reflect their performance, they can make an appeal in writing to the Chief Examiner, with a copy to the Instructor Training Scheme (ITS) Manager at BSAC.

Please copy in:

Appeals are investigated thoroughly by consultation with the examiner and the lead examiner on the day.

What can I teach?

Successful completion of both elements of the TIE will result in the award of a Theory Instructor qualification. This allows instructors to teach classroom and dry practical lessons up to Dive Leader level without the need for supervision by an Open Water Instructor.

A Theory Instructor will still require to be supervised for practical elements by an OWI until they successfully pass the Practical Instructor Exam (PIE).

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