What is the Commanding Officer’s Designate Course?

What is the Commanding Officer’s Designate Course?

The British Army’s Commanding Officer’s Designate Course (CODC) is designed for commissioned appointed as Commanding Officers (CO’s).

Where is it Delivered?

The CODC is delivered at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS).

How Long is the CODC?

The CODC takes place over two weeks, encompassing a nine-day syllabus (although this has seen some adjustment by the organising General Staff Centre).

How Many Courses and Students are There?

There are currently three courses per year with approximately 50 CO’s per course (around 150 per year).

What Does the CODC Involved?

There are a variety of topics discussed and delivered by a range of specialists, including:

  • An initial psychological assessment to aid CO’s understand their leadership style and personality (currently being piloted over two courses as part of the programme).
  • Training team experts giving advice on developing personnel.
  • Guidance on disciplinary procedures from representatives of teh Army Legal Service.
  • Talk by the Army Sergeant Major, the most senior enlisted soldier.

What is the Purpose of the Psychological Assessment?

It is important that CO’s understand their strengths and weakeness, as their role has a huge impact on those under their command.

After approximately six months in their new posts, it is envisaged that their subordinates will additionally be asked for their view of the CO in what is termed a ‘180 degree’ assessment.

Approximately a dozen personnel will answer a few standard questions, with the results being analysed and a report produced for the CO to reflect on.

Further coaching and assistance will be given to help refine leadership styles.

Remote Media Training and Simulation

Crown Media Ltd, which provide media simulation and training, has worked with the Royal Navy’s version of the CODC.

“The latest training event saw 24 senior military commanders given coaching and advice from experienced broadcast journalists before being put through their media paces. As well as being taught how to deal with journalists both in the flesh and via video link, each student was interviewed four times by two different journalists before being given detailed feedback.” (Crown Media Ltd, 2020).

Royal Navy (RN)

RN officers attend the RN’s Commanding Officer/Executive Officers’ Designate Course (CODC/XODC).

A preparatory course undertaken by all officers selected for command in the RN. The course covers a wide arrary of subjects, some focussed on previous experience and training to provide a refresher, others introducing new skill sets. Subjects studied included Risk Management; Nuclear Engineering; Safety, Health and the Environment; Media Training and Interview Techniques, Advanced Level Diversity and Inclusion and effective Safety Cultures.

Officers selected for Command or Executive assignments attend the Royal Navy Leadership Academy (RNLA) for a briefing on current command, leadership and management (CLM) activities and the potential for use of RNLA resources once they have taken up their appointments.

CODC/XODC also visit ROSqn in the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) for personality profiling.

In April 201, (then) Lieutenant Commander Sarah West became the first female to command a RN frigate. She completed a CODC prior to taking up her appointment (BBC News, 2011).

Royal Australian Navy (RAN)

RAN officers attend the Commanding Officer (CO)/Executive Officer (XO) Designate Course.

This course co-ordinates all the necessary training and briefing requirements for course members destined to re-join the fleet as a Ships’ Commanding Officer or Executive Officer (2nd In Command).

This course deals with candidates for Major Fleet Units (MFU) such as Frigates, Tankers, Amphibious Ships and Submarines as well as Minor War Vessels (MWV) like Patrol Boats, Mine Hunters and Landing Craft.



BBC News. (2011) Royal Navy appoints first female warship commander. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14444808. [Accessed: 11 September, 2020].

Crown Media Ltd. (2020) Home Page. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.crownmedia.co.uk/. [Accessed: 11 September, 2020].

Royal Australian Navy. (2020) HMAS Watson. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.navy.gov.au/establishments/hmas-watson. [Accessed: 11 September, 2020].

Royal Navy. (2018) BRd 3(1), Chapter 21 – The Divisional and Regimental System. Section 10 – Command, Leadership and Management (CLM), and Divisional Training. June 2016 Version 9 (Effective October 2018), pp.21-31.

Soldier. Mutual Understanding. Soldier: The Magazine of the British Army. September 2020, pp.51-54.


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