ASC students during the field survey
phase of the course.

The course now merits an MSc
from Cranfield University.


The Army Survey Course (ASC)

The course was born at the Commonwealth Surveyors' Cambridge Conference of 1947 initially as the Long Survey Course later to become the Army Survey Course in 1957. There was a recognised need to provide professional and technical skills for military surveyors, government surveyors of the Joint Survey Service who would work for the MOD, the Ordnance Survey and the Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS) and Commonwealth surveyors sponsored by their respective governments.

The course was designed to turn out competent surveyors for geodetic survey, topographic mapping and cadastral application and many Royal Engineer officers would have early postings to DOS and careers in the Ordnance Survey.

Attendance by military or civilian students destined for service with DOS ceased in 1981 hence the likelihood of ASC students actually undertaking hands on technical work was slight unless they had the opportunity to have a tour with 512 STRE. That year also saw the last ASC, No 67, who routinely attended the course in civilian clothes, another indication of the shift in emphasis towards the military. The now military emphasis led to a significant change in the course in 1986 for No 72 ASC when the Survey Project replaced the Trial Survey with an increased emphasis on professional management and less on technical prowess.

The accreditation of the Army Survey Course as an MSc in Defence Geographic Information through Cranfield University saw significant changes in the structure of the course to that of a standard MSc with a taught phase of 10 modules, a group project and the 4-month individual research project. The first course awarded the MSc was no 80 ASC who graduated in July 1996 at Shrivenham.

But nothing stands still. After an initiative from the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC) to gain MSc accreditation for training delivered on site it was decided following a review that the course, starting with 94 ASC, should be redesigned as an MSc in Geospatial Intelligence (Royal Engineers (Geographic) Officers Course) but is still referred to as the Army Survey Course.

Based on an article by Tony Keeley