Our new syllabus for 2024 – a summary of what’s changing
Our new CA syllabus, which launches in April 2024, has been refreshed to ensure that it’s future fit. Here we summarise the main changes in comparison to the current syllabus.
Ethics, sustainability and technology
Ethics, sustainability and technology will be three prominent themes throughout the future career of any Chartered Accountant. With that in mind, all three topics have been realised and embedded through all three levels of the new syllabus and feature more prominently than in the current syllabus.
More emphasis on non-technical skills
The new syllabus will provide students with the non-technical skills needed for the workplace of the future. This approach includes an emphasis on embedding the enabling characteristics from the Relevant Practical Experience logbook, such as complex problem solving, professional scepticism, communication, and agile thinking.
Our terms delivery model for the new syllabus will offer the 'structured flexibility' that enables employers to choose different pathways through the CA qualification for their students. Alongside the ability to follow a traditional level-by-level pathway through the Knowledge and Skills levels, there will now be the option to select a subject-specific pathway.
For example, students working in a tax team could follow our taxation learning pathway and be fully up to speed in tax sooner than was traditionally the case, and before they tackled the remainder of the syllabus subjects.
Remains a Masters equivalent
The total number of SCQF credits and nominal hours required to complete the new syllabus will remain the same as the current syllabus and, as currently, the new syllabus will be equivalent to a Masters degree.
The current CA syllabus
The new CA syllabus for 2024
Knowledge – what are the key changes at this level?
The first level of the new syllabus is Knowledge. This will replace the current Test of Competence (TC) level.
Knowledge-level courses – what’s changed at-a-glance
Test of Competence (current syllabus)
Knowledge (new syllabus)
|Financial Accounting||Reporting and Performance 1|
|Assurance & Reporting||Assurance|
Management Information & Technology
|Business Management and Finance|
|Principles of Taxation||Taxation|
What are the key changes?
- Reporting and Performance 1
This new course expands upon the reporting content from the Financial Accounting course of the previous syllabus and introduces the new element of non-financial reporting (which accounts for an extra 5 credits or 50 hours of learning).
The course also makes use of technology and demonstrates the ‘why’ behind the theory, with students required to post journal entries into Xero accounting software, giving them authentic workplace experience.
This new course includes elements from the Risk & Technology course at Test of Professional Skills in the current syllabus and adds more emphasis on understanding the topic of risk.
The reach is expanded from statutory assurance engagements to provide students with knowledge of best practice for sustainability assurance engagements. To create room within the course for these new sustainability elements, the corporate governance element has been moved into Reporting and Performance 1 (see above).
- Business Management and Finance
This new course combines three courses from the previous syllabus, Management Information & Technology, Business Acumen, and Finance, into a new 15 credit (or 150 hour) course.
To make room for the combination of these three subjects within a single course, some material has been moved to other courses: the law element from the current Business Acumen course is now within the new Business Law course; the innovation aspect from the current Management Information & Technology course, and the entrepreneurial aspect from the current Business Acumen course are both now covered in the new Skills-level elective Innovation, Growth and Technology (see below).
Again, the theme of sustainability is evident here. The management-accountant element of the course considers what businesses will measure to help them on their journey to net zero.
This new course combines two courses from the current syllabus: Principles of Tax from the Test of Competence level and Business Tax from the Test of Professional Skills level.
These have been merged into a single, 15-credit course that encompasses personal tax and business tax.
Whilst tax is a specialism that not every CA will need or want to have, sufficient content has been included here to provide a broad and essential understanding.
Students who wish to specialise in tax can now choose to sit the Advanced Tax elective at the Skills level (see below). When this elective is included, the amount of tax-related content within the new syllabus is broadly equivalent to that contained in the first two levels of the current syllabus.
These changes have freed up space within the curriculum for other elective subjects which may be more directly relevant to the areas in which students are working (see more below).
- Business Law
As noted above, the law elements from the previous Business Acumen course have been moved to, and expanded upon in, this new course. Students gain an introduction to the UK legal system and an explanation of elements of criminal and civil law that are relevant to the work of finance professionals.
The only new elements here which are not covered in the current syllabus are those related to ethics, with students now required to apply ethical guidance in the context of business law. These changes are designed to develop their understanding of the difference between being seen to do the right thing (what’s lawful) and actually doing the right thing (what’s ethical).
Skills – what are the key changes at this level?
The second level of the new syllabus is Skills. This will replace the current Test of Professional Skills (TPS) level.
Skills-level courses – what’s changed at-a-glance
|Test of Professional Skills (current syllabus)||Skills (new syllabus)|
|Strategic Finance & Modelling||Corporate Finance and Modelling|
|Assurance & Data||Advanced Assurance|
|Financial Reporting||Reporting and Performance 2|
Advanced Reporting and Performance
|Risk & Technology||Data, Risk and Technology|
|Electives - choose one from:|
|1. Advanced Tax|
|2. Data Analytics and Insights|
|3. Innovation for Growth and Transformation|
|4. Sustainability for Accountants|
What are the key changes?
- Reporting and Performance 2
- Advanced Reporting and Performance
Broadly speaking, these two 10-credit courses replace the 15-credit Financial Reporting course from the previous syllabus.
The new courses will deliver essential understanding of the importance of reporting and performance and add new elements of sustainability reporting.
Reporting and Performance 2 sits at SCQF level 10, rather than the level 11 of all other courses at this level. This is intended to provide students with a more manageable step up as they progress from the content covered in the level-9 Reporting and Performance 1 course at the previous Knowledge level. Here students will be introduced to IFRS and gain a deeper understanding of the sustainability reporting standards. The assessment for Reporting and Performance 2 is the only one at Skills level that’s not open book, to help ensure that students have understood and retained the key knowledge.
Advanced Reporting and Performance is a step up again to SCQF level 11 and empowers students to deal with uncertainty in relation to reporting. Students will be encouraged to evaluate financial statements and advise on the financial and non-financial reporting and performance requirements in accordance with relevant standards.
- Advanced Assurance
Essentially, this course replaces the Assurance & Data course from the current syllabus. The two courses are broadly similar except that the data element has been moved into the new Data, Risk and Technology course (see below), replaced by a new sustainability assurance element.
- Corporate Finance and Modelling
This new course replaces Strategic Finance & Modelling from the previous syllabus.
There are no fundamental changes from the previous course to the new course. There will, however, be a greater focus on ethics. Additionally, the modelling element of the course will now be assessed by coursework, rather than exam, to provide a more authentic, real-world experience of creating models. This will help to reduce the overall assessment time for the course and give students a more manageable and authentic experience.
- Data, Risk and Technology
This new course is broadly similar to Risk & Technology in the current syllabus, except for the addition of the data element that was moved from the current Assurance & Data course. This move will ensure that all data elements are consolidated in a single course.
Other changes include the addition of a sustainability element, considering the physical and transformational risks posed to businesses by climate change, and the addition of ethics and data, which is an emerging issue .
Four new electives at the Skills level
The addition of four new elective courses at the new Skills level will allow employers to choose a specialism and create a more personalised route through the qualification for their students. Employers and students must choose one from the four electives below.
- 1. Advanced Taxation
This elective contains the content that wasn’t transferred to our new Skills-level Taxation course from the current Test of Professional Skills-level Business Tax course. As such, it will further develop a student’s understanding of business tax. And, when taken in combination with the new Taxation course it will provide the same combined level of tax knowledge that a student would gain from the Principles of Taxation and Business Tax courses in the current syllabus. The focus of the course will be on providing practical advice and considering the interaction between the different taxes.
- 2. Data Analytics and Insights
This elective takes a deeper dive into the content established in the core Data, Risk and Technology course to develop an understanding of the role of the data scientist in business.
- 3. Sustainability for Accountants
This elective gives students a more detailed examination of all elements of sustainability and reporting. It will develop an awareness of environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts on organisations, and the role of CAs in linking these issues to broader business agendas.
- 4. Innovation for Growth and Transformation
The last of the four new electives develops the practical skills and leadership mindset needed to help organisations continuously innovate, transform and grow. It teaches a logical approach to innovation, working students through the process of turning an initial concept into a realised business improvement.
The way in which this course is assessed differs from the others in the syllabus, employing the ‘cycles of mastery’ concept to ensure that students only pass when they have achieved the appropriate level of competence.
Integration – what are the key changes at this level?
The third and final level of the new syllabus is Integration. This will replace the current Test of Professional Expertise (TPE) level.
Integration-level courses – what’s changed at-a-glance
|Test of Professional Expertise (current syllabus)||Integration (new syllabus)|
|Case Study||Integrated Case Study|
|Public Trust & Ethics||Professional Ethics|
What are the key changes?
The new Integration level is fundamentally the same as the Test of Professional Expertise (TPE) level of the current syllabus. It brings together all the knowledge a student has gained at the previous levels and asks them to use it to solve a business problem. The case study will be written so that it can be answered by all students regardless of the elective subject they studied.
- Integrated Case Study
The assessment for the Integrated Case Study has been reduced to 3 hours from 5 hours at the current syllabus, with the addition of a pre-seen element allowing for this reduction in time.
- Professional Ethics
In comparison to the same course at the current syllabus, the only addition here is a consideration of the ethical issues in relation to data.
Learn more about the new syllabus, including full course descriptions and syllabus learning outcomes.