A Guide to ACCA Courses

ACCA is short for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, which is the global professional body for accountants. ACCA provides an internationally recognised accountancy qualification, which is accepted by the majority of regulatory and educational institutions. ACCA members are regulated, to ensure that they are competent as professional accountants. Gaining the ACCA qualification is the perfect way to start your journey as a chartered accountant.


The ACCA qualification is comprised of three stages of exams, with an ethics and professional skills module, and a professional experience requirement. The exams are split into three types; applied knowledge exams, applied skills exams, and strategic professional exams.

Applied Knowledge Exams

The applied knowledge exams give you an introduction to the world of finance and accounting, as well as developing your understanding of essential accounting techniques. There are three applied knowledge exams:

  • Accountant in Business (AB)
  • Management Accounting (MA)
  • Financial Accounting (FA)

Applied Skills Exams

The applied skills exams build on your existing knowledge and understanding, developing strong and practical finance required of future accountants in any sector or industry. There are six applied skills exams:

  • Corporate and Business Law (LW)
  • Performance Management (PM)
  • Taxation (TX)
  • Financial Reporting (FR)
  • Audit and Assurance (AA)
  • Financial Management (FM)

Strategic Professional Exams

The strategic professional exams provide students with a unique set of skills, real-world application, as well as offering specialisation options. There are both essential and optional exams. These exams are:

  • Strategic Business Leader (SBL) – Essential
  • Strategic Business Reporting (SBR) – Essential
  • Advanced Financial Management (AFM) – Optional
  • Advanced Performance Management (APM) – Optional
  • Advanced Taxation (ATX) – Optional
  • Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA) – Optional

Practical Experience

In order to gain your ACCA qualification, there is a practical experience requirement. This work experience means that you will qualify as a confident professional, who is ready to apply their knowledge in a work environment. Your relevant accounting experience can be started from when you are first accepted onto the ACCA course. Not only will this module allow you to experience applied accounting, it is also crucial for your professional development.

Ethics and Professional Skills

The ethics and professional skills module will develop your complete range of skills, using the recommendations given to ACCA by employers. This module will expose you to realistic business situations, and allow you to explore the full spectrum of advanced ethical and professional skills. 

You should complete the ethics and professional skills module before taking any of the strategic professional exams.

Accreditation and Certification

Throughout your ACCA course, you will be able to gain certain qualifications as you work. You will gain the ACCA Diploma in Accounting and Business (RQF Level 4) when you have passed the applied knowledge exams and the Foundations in Professionalism ethics module. This award can be earned in 6-12 months. You will gain the Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Business when you have passed all of the applied knowledge and applied skills exams, and have completed the ethics and professional skills module. This award can be earned in 12-18 months.

You can also combine your ACCA qualification with gaining a degree. You could gain a BSc (Hons) degree in Applied Accounting, meaning that you can get a degree at the same time as becoming a qualified accountant. Currently ACCA works in partnership with Oxford Brookes University to offer this qualification. You could also gain and Master’s in Professional Accounting, meaning you can gain a professional and academic perspective. This is currently offered at the University of London.

Studying ACCA at University

ACCA is studied at Postgraduate level at University.

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There are several options for how you complete your ACCA qualification. You can choose from:

  • Full-time courses
  • Part-time/weekend courses
  • Distance learning
  • Online learning via ACCA-X
  • Revision courses

All of these options will still require you to complete at least 36 months of practical experience. No matter where or how you study, you will have access to the 24 hour support through the ACCA Connect team.

Entry Requirements

The entry requirements for the ACCA qualification varies for each country, and students from some countries may not be able to register. You will need to have 3 GCSES and 2 A Levels (or equivalent) including Maths and English. To find out if your qualifications are sufficient, visit the ACCA website.

If you do not meet the entry requirements, or are ineligible for registration, you may want to explore the ACCA foundation level courses instead. These are a great place to start if you are new to accountancy, or already work in finance but have no qualifications.

Funding Your Studies

The ACCA qualification fees will depend on where you are from, and how you choose to study. It is not paid as an upfront or bulk cost, each module, exam and registration is paid separately. For more information about the fees you will have to pay, visit the ACCA website.

You may be eligible for a scholarship or funding. This could be awarded by your company, or by a separate funding body. For more information, visit our scholarships and funding section.

Career Options

Once you are a fully qualified member of ACCA, you will be able to get an accounting job in an industry of your choice. ACCA members are present in public practice or accounting firms, public sector (such as government), corporate sector, financial services and not-for-profit organisations.

You will have gained strong technical skills in accounting and numeracy, as well as transferable skills that are applicable in careers and industries not directly related to accounting, such as effective communication, critical and logical thinking, and problem solvers.

Top Courses in ACCA

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