Non-NTU Award

CIPFA Professional Accounting Qualification

  • Level(s) of study: Professional
  • Study mode(s): Part-time
  • Location: City site
  • Starting: September
  • Course duration: 30, 36 or 42 months, part-time
  • Entry requirements: More information

CIPFA is the premier accountancy body for all public sector organisations including Central and Local Governments, the National Health Service, and the charitable sector.

Nottingham Business School is an accredited provider of CIPFA training and has an excellent reputation for preparing candidates for the Institute's exams. This is reflected in the high pass rates achieved and the number of prize winners in recent years.

This course prepares candidates for the examinations of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

NBS currently teach the following levels:

  • CIPFA Professional Certificate
  • CIPFA Professional Diploma
  • Strategic stage

On completion of these levels and submitting your Practical Experience Portfolio (PEP), you gain the Professional Qualification, full membership to CIPFA and the right to use the globally respected 'Chartered Public Finance Accountant' (CPFA) designation.

The CIPFA qualification is recognised by the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB) and all public sector and many private sector employers. It is the leading public service Accounting qualification.

Accredited by:


What you'll study

Course content
There are three stages: Professional Certificate, Professional Diploma and Strategic stage.

Candidates must hold both the Certificate and Diploma stages before they can progress to the Strategic stage.

For details of the current syllabus coverage please visit the CIPFA website.

  • Professional Certificate

    You will be studying the following modules:

    Financial Accounting

    This module is designed to provide the candidate with the technical knowledge and skills required to perform financial accounting tasks. The module takes the candidate through the financial accounting process, covering the different types of financial events, transactions and source documentation encountered in practice through to the preparation of simple financial statements.

    Management Accounting

    This module is designed to provide the candidate with the knowledge required to perform management accounting tasks. The module develops the candidate’s understanding of the nature of costs in products and services. This knowledge and understanding of cost and cost behaviour provides the basis for effective decision making. The module also covers budgeting, the maintenance of management accounting records and the key aspects of standard costing and budgetary control.

    Audit and Assurance

    This module is designed to provide the candidate with the necessary knowledge and skills to perform internal and external auditing within the public services. The module focuses on both the theoretical and practical aspects of auditing and is designed to assess the ability of candidates to conduct audit work and prepare high quality audit documentation. The learning outcomes are based on the requirements of the International Standards on Auditing (UK and Ireland) and relevant UK legislation.

    Company Financial Reporting

    This module is designed to provide the candidate with the knowledge and skills needed to apply appropriate accounting policies and prepare financial statements for single entities and groups. This module helps to develop the candidate’s awareness of the accounting and financial reporting requirements relating to private sector organisations, including those that collaborate with public service bodies.

    The Financial Reporting syllabus focuses on the preparation of financial statements for limited companies in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the interpretation of financial information. While the Financial Accounting module includes coverage of both public service and private sector organisations, the Financial Reporting module focuses on companies.

  • Professional Diploma

    You will be studying the following modules:

    Business and Change Management

    This module is designed to develop skills that are of crucial importance in modern public service organisations in the areas of performance management, procurement and commissioning, project management, quality control and systems implementation.

    Financial Management

    This module is designed to provide the candidate with the knowledge and skills that relate to financial management within a public service organisation. The module supports the use of the HM Treasury Green Book which provides guidance on the assessment of spending and investment within the public services. The module also covers the implementation of the CIPFA Code of Practice for Treasury Management in the Public Services and the CIPFA Prudential Code in Local Authorities.

    Strategy and Policy Development

    This module is designed to provide the candidate with the necessary knowledge and skills to develop service provision strategies for organisations within the public services. The module also focuses on the implementation of strategy in delivering planned levels of public, community and social value. The module reviews and evaluates modern methods of management and organisational vehicles used to deliver services to the public.

    Public Service Financial Reporting

    This module is designed to provide the candidate with the knowledge and skills required for financial reporting responsibilities within the UK public services. The module takes the candidate through the requirements for the preparation of financial statements and performance reporting within the UK public services.

    Corporate Governance and Law

    This module is designed to provide the candidate with a sound working knowledge of policy-making actors and processes within the UK public services. In addition, the module provides the candidate with an understanding of the principles of good governance in the public and private sectors, and knowledge and skills in the areas of professional values and ethics.


    This module aims to develop the candidate’s knowledge of public expenditure and the sources of revenue for public service organisations. It also develops the candidate’s technical skills in performing calculations in respect of corporation tax, personal taxes and VAT.

  • Strategic Stage

    You will be studying the following modules:

    Strategic Public Finance

    This module is designed to provide candidates with the necessary knowledge and higher level leadership skills applicable to organisations within the public services. The module is closely aligned with the CIPFA Statement of Expertise (SOE) area ‘Leadership and Strategic Management’. This area of expertise comprises five elements, and the Strategic Leadership module focuses in particular on 1 and 5:

    1. Leading complex organisations and managing the achievement of organisational aims.

    5. Developing strategic alliances with other organisations.

    The module also develops the leadership aspects of elements 2, 3 and 4, building on the related knowledge from the Business Strategy module in the Professional Diploma.

    Strategic Case Study

    CIPFA’s Statement of Expertise identifies the key areas of competence and standards of performance expected of a CPFA within 5 years of initial qualification. The CIPFA Professional Qualification (PQ) is designed to equip newly qualified CPFAs with the technical and managerial knowledge and skills that underpin the capabilities described in the Statement of Expertise. Each module of the PQ contributes to the attainment of a range of these competences.

    Strategic Financial Management (SFM) is part of the Strategic stage of the PQ. The module will deliver a series of overall aims, which represent the standard of attainment expected of a newly-qualified CPFA. The examination format is a practical case study, involving a number of tasks all relating to the same (fictitious) organisation. Effective management of the available time and resources is a key aspect of the assessment, and this is reflected in the aims and learning outcomes within the syllabus. Pre-seen materials of between 8 and 12 pages are issued to candidates in advance of the examination, providing background to the organisation in which the case study scenario is set and other relevant information.

How you’re taught

How do you study?
The Professional Accounting Qualification is a modular day-release course. All stages are supported by CIPFA’s online learning centre and students have the option to attend as many modules as desired.

You will attend one of our day-release classes and be taught by an expert in CIPFA tuition. The day-release classes and revision courses provide you with relevant course materials and face-to-face tuition where you will have difficult concepts explained to you as well as the opportunity to raise queries with the module tutor.

The Certificate, Diploma and Strategic stages all incorporate externally assessed examinations, which are sat in June and December. Nottingham Business School is a CIPFA examination centre.

Careers and employability

This course does not currently offer placements, but the course assignments are based on real-world issues. Applicants must therefore be in employment, or be able to gain access to an organisation upon which to base assignments.

The majority of successful candidates go on to achieve senior and top-level roles in public and private sector organisations. Successful completion of this course leads to exemptions on the MSc Public Services Management.

Entry requirements

Further entry requirement details

You must be registered with CIPFA, be employed by a CIPFA approved training organisation, and have passed the appropriate previous level or gained exemption from it.

English language requirements

English language entry requirements for courses at Nottingham Business School and a full list of all English language qualifications accepted by the University are available on our website.

How to apply

Applications should be made using the apply online button at the top of the page.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Fees and funding

For details on course fees and any funding available please visit our fees and funding page for further information and any additional support.

Still need help?

Nottingham Business School
+44 (0) 115 848 4460