ACCA Professional Qualification syllabus | Kaplan Financial
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ACCA Syllabus

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ACCA is suitable for those who would like a career in finance, business or accountancy, who wish to become a Chartered Certified Accountant. It takes around three to four years to complete the full qualification. You’ll learn both practical and technical skills to equip you for a future in business.

The qualification is broken down into three levels: Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills and Strategic Professional. Applied Knowledge exams, as well as the Corporate & Business Law exam at Applied Skills, are computer based and are available all year round. For Applied Skills (except Corporate & Business Law) and Strategic Professional levels, ACCA offer four exam sittings per year.

We have put together recommendations for how to use the four sittings to progress most effectively through your studies. Read our advice.

Applied Knowledge

You’ll learn about the role of accounting in the business environment and develop the practical skills and techniques required of an accountant.

Applied Knowledge

Applied Knowledge is the entry level to the ACCA accounting qualification. If you have no previous qualifications, then you should complete the final level of the AAT or FIA Diploma first, before moving on to ACCA.

Students with two A-Levels and three GCSEs in five separate subjects (including English and Maths) or with a non-relevant degree or NVQ qualification can proceed directly on to the Applied Knowledge level.

There are three subjects in the Applied Knowledge level and these can be sat in any order.

Knowledge exams

Exams for the three Knowledge subjects are available to sit as a Computer Based Exam (CBE) at your local Kaplan centre.

Computer Based Exams

  • Available all year round (subject to availability)
  • Objective test and multi-task questions
  • 2 hour exam with a pass mark of 50%

Computer Based Exams consist of objective test questions and multi-task questions (MTQs). MTQs contain a series of tasks for students to complete, tasks which relate to one or more scenarios.

Exams are also available at other ACCA approved centres.

Knowledge exemptions

If you are AAT, FIA or CAT qualified or hold a relevant degree (e.g. Accountancy, Finance, Law or Management) then you may be eligible for exemptions from the Knowledge level. You must apply for exemptions through ACCA when you register with ACCA as a student.

We advise doing this before you begin the level to ensure you start your studies at the correct point. You can check to see if you qualify for any exemptions on the ACCA website.

Accountant in Business (AB)

This subject will introduce you to basic business principles and the business environment. You’ll learn how this affects how organisations are structured and on the role of the accounting in contributing to the efficient, effective and ethical management and development of an organisation, its people and systems.

Topics covered

  • The business organisation, its stakeholders and the external environment
  • Business organisational structure, functions and governance
  • Accounting and reporting systems, controls and compliance
  • The formation and constitution of business organisation
  • Leading and managing individuals and teams
  • Personal effectiveness and communication
  • Professional ethics in accounting and business

Management Accounting (MA)

You’ll learn accountancy techniques to support management in planning, controlling and monitoring performance in a range of business contexts.

Topics Covered

  • The nature, source and purpose of management information
  • Cost accounting techniques
  • Budgeting
  • Standard costing
  • Performance measurement

Financial Accounting (FA)

You’ll learn the underlying concepts relating to financial accounting and technical proficiency in techniques, such as double entry accounting techniques and the preparation of basic financial statements.

Topics Covered

  • Context and purpose of financial reporting
  • Qualitative characteristics of financial information
  • Fundamental bases of accounting
  • Double entry and accounting systems
  • Recording transactions and events
  • Preparing trial balances (including identifying and correcting errors)
  • Preparing financial statements
  • Interpreting financial statements
Applied Skills

Skills Module

Subjects can be sat in any order. Students can sit up to four subjects in one exam sitting and a maximum of eight per year. You can overlap with Applied Knowledge as long as this level is being completed.

Applied Skills exams

LW is available as a Computer Based Exam (CBE) at Kaplan centres all year round and also at other ACCA approved centres. Both written and computer based versions of the LW exam are two hours long with no reading time. ENG and GLO versions of the exam are only examined by CBE in the UK.

With the exception of LW, exams for the Applied Skills subjects are available as Session CBEs sat at ACCA centres and there are four exam sittings per year. Find out more about exam entry dates.

In the UK, Applied Skills subjects are only examined by Session CBE. In some countries the subjects are still also available as Paper Based Exams (PBE) which take place at the same time as the Session CBE. Find out more about Session CBEs in your location.

Session CBEs are three hours 20 minutes long plus up to 10 minutes to read the pre-exam instructions. PBEs are three hours long with 15 minutes reading time. Find out more about the CBE exam format.

The pass mark for all subjects is 50%.

Applied Skills exemptions

If you have a relevant degree in Accountancy, Finance, Law or Management you may be eligible for exemptions from the some or all of the Applied Skills level. You must apply for exemptions through ACCA when you register with ACCA as a student.

We advise doing this before you begin the level to ensure you start your studies at the correct point. You can check to see if you qualify for any exemptions on the ACCA website.

Corporate & Business Law (LW)

You’ll develop the knowledge and skills to understand the general legal framework and of specific legal areas relevant for business, while recognising the need to ask for specialist legal advice when necessary.

Topics Covered

  • Essential elements of the legal system
  • The law of obligations (contract and tort)
  • Employment law
  • The formation and constitution of business organisation
  • Capital and the financing of companies
  • Management, administration and regulation of companies
  • Legal implications relating to companies in difficulty or in crisis
  • Governance and ethical issues relation to business

Performance Management (PM)

You’ll develop the knowledge to apply management accounting techniques to quantitive and qualitive information for planning, decision-making, performance evaluation and control.

Topics covered

  • Specialist cost and management accounting techniques
  • Decision-making techniques
  • Budgeting
  • Standard costing and variances analysis
  • Performance measurement and control

Taxation (TX-UK)

You’ll learn the knowledge and skills relating to the tax systems for individuals, single companies and groups of companies.

Topics Covered

  • The UK tax system and its administration
  • Income tax and NIC liabilities
  • Corporation tax liabilities
  • Chargeable gains for individuals
  • Inheritance tax
  • Value added tax (VAT)

Financial Reporting (FR)

You’ll learn the skills to understand and apply accounting standards and the theoretical framework required to prepare financial statements of entities, and how to analyse and interpret those financial statements.

Topics Covered

  • The conceptual and regulatory framework for financial reporting
  • Accounting for transactions in financial statements
  • Analysing and interpreting the financial statements of single entities and groups
  • Preparation of financial statements

Audit and Assurance (AA)

You’ll understand the process of implementing the assurance engagement and its application in the context of the professional regulatory framework.

Topics covered

  • Audit framework and regulation
  • Planning and risk assessment
  • Internal control
  • Audit evidence
  • Review and reporting

Financial Management (FM)

You’ll develop the knowledge and skills necessary for a finance manager responsible for the finance function of a business, in regards to investment, financing and dividend policy decisions.

Topics covered

  • Financial management function
  • Financial management environment
  • Working capital management
  • Investment appraisal
  • Business finance
  • Business valuations
  • Risk management

You should read through your PM notes before you begin studying FM.

Strategic Professional Essentials

Strategic Professional Essentials

ACCA have recently redesigned the Professional level (consisting of Essentials and Options subjects) to create the Strategic Professional level.

There are four exam sessions per year. You can sit a maximum of four exams at each session, and a maximum of eight distinct exams each calendar year.You can overlap with subjects on Applied Skills as long as the Applied Skills level is being completed. However, there are no exemptions available for the Strategic Professional Essentials level so all subjects must be passed to continue with your studies. Strategic Professional subjects can be attempted in any order so you do not have to sit Essentials before Options. In fact we would recommend you leave Strategic Business Leader (SBL) until later in your studies.

These are Paper Based Exams (PBEs) which are sat at ACCA centres, booked directly with ACCA. Learn more about exam dates.

ACCA and Kaplan advise you to take the external ethics exam, Ethics and Professional Skills, before you sit any exams on Strategic Professional. Please visit ACCA’s website for more details.

Strategic Business Leader (SBL)

Subject assessment: Case study

Using scenarios that could occur in your day-to-day working life, the case study challenges you to incorporate your technical, ethical and professional skills to create solutions and demonstrate these in your responses. This is a four hour case study exam, with no previously seen information. This replaces the previous P1 and P3 papers.

Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)

You’ll use your professional judgement to apply and evaluate financial reporting principles in multiple business contexts and situations, arming you with the skills to confidently explain reports and the impacts of transactions to a broad range of stakeholders. This replaces the previous P2 paper. The exam is three hours long with 15 minutes available for reading time.

Topics Covered

  • Fundamental ethical and professional principles
  • The financial reporting framework
  • Reporting the financial performance of a range of entities
  • Financial statements of groups of entities
  • Interpret financial statements for different stakeholders
  • The impact of changes and potential changes in accounting regulation
Strategic Professional Options

Strategic Professional Essentials and Options can be attempted in any order.

There are no exemptions available for the Strategic Professional Options level. You only need to complete two out of the four papers.

Strategic Professional Options exams

Exams for the Strategic Professional Options papers are Paper Based Exams (PBE), which are sat at ACCA centres and there are four exam sittings per year. Find out more about exam entry dates.

Exams are three hours long with 15 minutes available for reading time.

The pass mark for all papers is 50%.

Advanced Financial Management (AFM)

You’ll practice the professional judgement expected of a senior financial executive or advisor, in taking or recommending decisions relating to the financial management of an organisation in private and public sectors.

Topics Covered

  • Role of senior financial adviser in the multinational organisation
  • Advanced investment appraisal
  • Acquisitions and mergers
  • Corporate reconstruction and re-organisation
  • Treasury and advanced risk management techniques

Advanced Performance Management (APM)

You’ll develop the skills and knowledge to apply strategic management accounting techniques in multiple business contexts and to add to the evaluation of the performance of an organisation and its strategic development.

Topics Covered

  • Strategic planning and control
  • Impact of risk and uncertainty on organisational performance
  • Performance measurement systems and design
  • Strategic performance management
  • Performance evaluation and corporate failure

Advanced Taxation (ATX-UK)

You’ll learn how to provide relevant information and advice to individuals and businesses on the impact of the major taxes on financial decisions and situations.

Topics Covered

  • Knowledge and understanding of the UK tax system through the study of more advanced topics within the taxes studied previously and the study of stamp taxes
  • The impact of relevant taxes on various situations and courses of action, including the interaction of taxes
  • Minimising and/or deferring tax liabilities by the use of standard tax planning measures
  • Communicating with clients, HM Revenue and Customs and other professionals.

Advanced Audit & Assurance (AAA)

You’ll analyse, evaluate and report on the assurance engagement and other audit and assurance issues in the context of best practice and current developments.

Topics Covered

  • Regulatory environment
  • Professional and ethical considerations
  • Quality Control and Practice management
  • Planning and conducting an audit of historical financial information
  • Other Assignments
  • Completion, review and reporting.
  • Current issues and developments

Choose a study method

  • Classroom ›

    Face-to-face learning at one of 18 local Kaplan training centres, taught by expert tutors on a weekday, weekend or evening.

  • Live Online ›

    The nearest thing to sitting in a classroom. Join timetabled live lectures on your computer and post questions for live tutor feedback.

  • OnDemand ›

    Online course of tutor-led videos and content specifically designed for efficient learning.

  • Distance Learning ›

    Self study with printed and online materials for you to work through at your own pace, with tutor support available when you need it.

ACCA Syllabus