The Society examinations not only serve the purpose of a yardstick for people to assess the extent of their knowledge, but also to give assurance and status, especially to those who lecture or give training in this subject. The examinations are open to members and non-members; it is hoped that non-members will be encouraged to join the Society soon afterwards.

The Examinations

There are three examination levels -- Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced. At each level a pass is recognised by the award of the appropriate Certificate. When taken successfully in this sequence they lead to the award of the Society’s Diploma and the post-nominal DipHS, which may also be enhanced through external accreditation by the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.

The Elementary and Intermediate examinations each comprise two written question papers, both of three hours duration, and are held twice a year, in June and November. A sample paper for each of these two levels can be found further on.

The Advanced Certificate is awarded on submission of a satisfactory Dissertation. At the discretion of the Examinations Board, a person wishing to write a dissertation on a particular facet of Heraldry and to have some official recognition of their efforts may take the Advanced examination without first sitting the Elementary and Intermediate examinations. A Pass will gain the Advanced Certificate, which cannot be converted retrospectively to the Diploma.

The results for the examinations will be published within two months of the date taken.

The first step towards taking (or learning more about) one of the examinations is to contact the Examinations Officer by email: heraldry.exams@theheraldrysociety.com or hs.examsofficer@gmail.com

Syllabus Of Study

Elementary Level

A sound basic knowledge of the following is required:
a) The ordinaries, sub-ordinaries, and the most frequently-used charges.
b) The rules governing blazoning, emblazoning, hatching, and tricking.
c) The field, party-fields, and lines of partition.
d) The achievement and its component parts.
e) Marshalling and cadency
f) Personal, Royal, ecclesiastical and corporate arms.
g) The origin and development of Heraldry.
h) The Officers of Arms in the British Isles, and their duties.

Intermediate Level

Candidates must have passed the Elementary examination, and should have deeper knowledge, understanding and experience of British Heraldry. They should also have the ability to apply their knowledge in practical ways, demonstrating the following:
a) The ability to identify a coat of arms using Papworth’s “Ordinary of Arms”.
b) Ability to use the records of the Heralds’ Visitations.
c) Knowledge of medieval heraldry.
d) Knowledge of the Law of Arms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and also in Scotland.
e) Some elementary knowledge of foreign heraldry.

Advanced Level

Candidates are required to submit a short Synopsis of the topic for approval by the Examinations Board. On approval, the candidate has three years to complete and submit a Dissertation of around 10,000 words, excluding appendices, etc.

The Dissertation is expected to demonstrate a rational progression from collected material via analysis and/or commentary through to one or more conclusions. What is not required is a work which is solely a catalogue, no matter how exhaustive or well-presented. It is permissible for a candidate to have a Study Director to provide general guidance and advice, indeed, this is recommended to all candidates.

A candidate may submit a Dissertation which has already been published in an appropriate publication, providing the normal guidelines have been met; in particular a Synopsis must first be submitted and accepted; the work must be entirely the candidate’s own, and that any additional requirements by the Examinations Board must be met.

Sample Exam Papers

Sample Elementary Exam Paper 1
Sample Elementary Exam Paper 2
Sample Elementary Exam Paper 1
Sample Elementary Exam Paper 2