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Find out how the ACCA qualification works, including exams, modules and entry routes.


Professional Ethics module

Practical experience requirement


The ACCA exams are divided into two levels; Fundamentals and Professional.

The Fundamentals level is divided into two modules Knowledge and Skills.

The Knowledge module introduces you to the main areas of financial and management accounting. You will study the other technical accountancy areas after you study this. There are six subjects in the Skills module which cover the main technical areas that accountants are expected to know.


The Professional level is divided into two modules; Essentials and Options. Both of the modules at Professional level have been set at the same ability level as a Masters degree.

This level builds on the technical knowledge you will already have. It will also explore more advanced professional skills, techniques and values. These are required at a senior level by accountants working in an advisory or consultancy role.

All students have to pass the three papers in the Essentials module. The Options module contains four papers, but you only need to complete two.

Professional Ethics module

Professional ethics is at the heart of the ACCA Qualification.

Professional ethics is covered in 11 of the 16 exam papers. This includes all papers at Professional level and three of the Essential performance objectives. 

The Professional Ethics module underpins both your studies and your practical experience. The aim of the module is to introduce you to a range of ethical ideas.

You get access to the module  as soon as you complete the Knowledge module (F1-F3) of the Fundamentals level.  While you have the flexibility to complete the ethics module in your own time you should note that ethics is now one of your requirements of membership and it is therefore recommended that you take the Professional Ethics module at the same time as, or before, the P1, Governance, Risk and Ethics exam. The Professional Ethics module must also be completed for you to receive the Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Business award from ACCA on completion of the Fundamentals exams and before you submit your RAP to Oxford Brookes University if you wish to take the B.SC (Hons) degree in Applied Accounting.

Practical experience requirement

A key part of the ACCA Qualification is getting relevant practical experience in the workplace. Our exams will give you the theory behind your knowledge of accountancy, but you also need to have the practical experience to support it. This experience, alongside your exams and ethical awareness, will mean you are fully prepared for a challenging career as a professional accountant.

The ACCA Qualification closely links practical experience to your studies. This means you can apply the knowledge you gain from the exams to your workplace. This also will show future employers that you have the right mix of knowledge and skills.

You should think about the practical experience you need to gain for the ACCA Qualification when looking for a job and choosing your employer.

You need to do three years' relevant work experience and achieve 13 of the performance objectives listed below. You will need to do all nine listed as 'Essentials' and four of those listed as 'Options'.

Performance objectives are part of the requirements you must meet for your practical experience. They set out a clear guide for the activities you should do and what you should achieve in the workplace. They outline the standards and expected result of your work. They also show the attitudes you are expected to have as a trainee accountant. 

ESSENTIALS (all nine to be done)
Professionalism, ethics and governance
1 Demonstrate the application of professional ethics, values and judgement.
2 Contribute to the effective governance of an organisation.
3 Raise awareness of non-financial risk.
Personal effectiveness
4 Manage self.
5 Communicate effectively.
6 Use information and communications technology.
Business management
7 Manage ongoing activities in your area of responsibility.
8 Improve departmental performance.
9 Manage an assignment. 
OPTIONS (four to be done) 
Financial accounting and reporting
10 Prepare financial statements for external purposes.
11 Interpret financial transactions and financial statements. 
Performance measurement and management accounting 
12 Prepare financial information for management.
13 Contribute to budget planning and production.
14 Monitor and control budgets.
Finance and financial management
15 Evaluate potential business/investment opportunities and the required finance options.
16 Manage cash using active cash management and treasury systems.
Audit and assurance
17 Prepare for and collect evidence for audit.
18 Evaluate and report on audit.
19 Evaluate and compute taxes payable.
20 Assist with tax planning.

Related documents

  • Entry-route chart

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