Changes to the ACCA Qualification Skills module, Professional level and Foundations in 2017-18

This article explains the planned updates to the ACCA Qualification syllabuses taking place as part of the process of continuous syllabus refreshment and improvement.

Introduction

The exam year runs from the 1 September to 31 August the following year, for all exams except tax*. Therefore the next syllabus changes will be effective from 1 September 2017 and will include any changes to examinable documents issued up until 1 September 2016.

* The exam year for most tax exams is 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018, with Malaysia and Czech Republic being exceptions. You should refer to the study guide and examinable documents for details of what legislation is examinable in the tax exams.

For session CBE and for paper-based exams the updated syllabus will be examined for the first time in the September exam session and for exams available by on-demand CBE (F1, F2, F3 and F4 ENG and GLO) the targeted date for the first exams on the updated syllabus is 20 September 2017. This date will be confirmed via the exam centres for on-demand CBEs.

There are a number of changes taking effect in the ACCA Advanced Diploma and Professional level syllabuses. These are summarised below. In all cases, please refer to the relevant study guides for full details of changes for the subjects you are particularly interested in. The summary of syllabus updates and changes for each examination is also included at the back of each study guide. 

ACCA Fundamentals level (Skills Module)


Structural changes to the Skills module exams
(F5–F9)

Since September 2016 CBE versions of the Skills examinations (including F6 UK only) have been available and are being rolled out to more locations at each exam session, initially in addition to paper delivery, from March 2018 onwards, paper exams for F5–F9 will start to be withdrawn from those markets where session CBEs are well-established.

CBE Specimen exams and other support resources are available to allow you to familiarise yourselves with the CBE functionality.

Find out when session CBEs for F5–F9 will be available in your market
 

Syllabus Changes to the Skills module exams (F4–F9)

There have been a number of changes to the syllabuses of the Skills module exams, which are detailed below.

F4 (ENG) CORPORATE AND BUSINESS LAW
The main areas where there have been additions to the syllabus are shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1 – Additions to F4 (ENG)

Section and subject area

Syllabus content

B2c) Content of contracts

The control over terms in consumer contracts

There have been no deletions from the syllabus.

F5, PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT
Table 2 below shows the changes and clarifications that have been made to this syllabus.

Table 2 – Changes to the F5 syllabus

Section and subject area

Syllabus content

C1  Budgetary systems and types of budget

C1e) now includes specific mention of the preparation of flexed budgets

D6  Performance analysis in not for profit organisations and the public sector

D6e)–D6h) are new learning outcomes to enable common issues in performance management to be examined explicitly in this organisational context

F6 (UK), TAXATION
The main additions to the F6 syllabus are given in Table 3 below.

Table 3 – Additions to F6 (UK)

Section and subject area

Syllabus content

A4  The time limits for the submission of information, claims and payment of tax, including payments on account – Excluded topics

• Tax deducted at source from savings income or dividend income when calculating payments on account based on the tax year 2015–16

• Simple assessments

B2  Income from employment – Excluded topic

Tax free childcare scheme

B4  Property and investment income

New part (h) on the application of the accrued income scheme to UK Government securities (gilts)

B4  Property and investment income – Excluded  topic

Savings income paid net of tax

B4  Property and investment income – Excluded topic

The detailed rules for establishing whether higher or additional rate tax is applicable for the purposes of the savings income nil rate band

 

B5  The comprehensive computation of taxable   income and income tax liability – Excluded topic

Consideration of the most beneficial allocation of the personal allowance to different categories of income

B7  The use of exemptions and reliefs in deferring and minimising income tax liabilities

New part (c) on basic income tax planning added for clarity

B7  The use of exemptions and reliefs in deferring and minimising income tax liabilities – Excluded topic

The threshold level of income below which tapering of the annual allowance does not apply

C5  The computation of capital gains tax – Excluded topic

Mixed use property

C6  The use of exemptions and reliefs in deferring and minimising tax liabilities arising on the disposal of capital assets

New part (b) on basic capital gains tax planning added

D2  The liabilities arising on chargeable lifetime transfers and on the death of an individual – Excluded topics

The additional nil rate band available from 6 April 2017 when a residential property is inherited by direct descendants

D3  The use of exemptions in deferring and minimising inheritance tax liabilities

New part (b) on basic inheritance tax planning added

E4  The comprehensive computation of corporation tax liability – Excluded topic

Franked investment income

The main areas that have been deleted from the syllabus are shown in Table 4 below.

Table 4 – Deletions from F6 (UK)

Section and subject area

Syllabus content

B2  Income from employment

Part (g) on the identification of P11D employees deleted as no longer relevant

B2  Income from employment

Part (i) on the purpose of a dispensation from HM Revenue & Customs deleted as no longer relevant

B3  Income from self-employment – Excluded topic

Excluded topic on the CO2 emission thresholds for capital allowances for motor cars prior to 6 April 2013 deleted as no longer relevant

B3  Income from self-employment – Excluded topic

Excluded topic on the apportionment in relation to the annual investment allowance where a period of account spans 1 January 2016 deleted as no longer relevant

B5  The comprehensive computation of taxable income and income tax liability– Excluded topic

The higher personal allowance available for people born before 6 April 1938 deleted from excluded topics as no longer relevant

B6  National insurance contributions for employed and self-employed persons – Excluded topic

Excluded topic on contracted out contributions deleted as no longer relevant

The main areas that have been amended the syllabus are shown in Table 5 below.

Table 5 – Amendments to F6 (UK)

Section and subject area

Syllabus content

B2  Income from employment

Part (f) on the PAYE system amended to include the payrolling of benefits and the purposes of form P11D

B3  Income from self-employment – Excluded topics

Excluded topic on the annual investment allowance amended to exclude the expenditure limit of £500,000 applicable prior to 1 January 2016

B4  Property and investment income – Excluded topics

Excluded topic on help-to-buy ISAs amended to include innovative finance ISAs

B6  National insurance contributions for employed and self-employed persons – Excluded topics

Excluded topic on the exemption from employer’s class 1 NIC in respect of employees aged under 21 amended to include apprentices aged under 25

B7  The use of exemptions and reliefs in deferring and minimising income tax liabilities – Excluded topic

Excluded topic on the anti-avoidance annual allowance limit amended to clarify that the tapered annual allowance is examinable

F7, FINANCIAL REPORTING

Note of significant changes to F7 syllabus
The main areas to be added or deleted from the F7 syllabus are shown in Tables 6 and 7 below.

Table 6 – Additions to F7

Click to enlarge


Table 7 – Deletions from F7 

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F8, AUDIT AND ASSURANCE

The main areas that have been changed in the syllabus are shown in the Table 8 below.

Table 8 – Amendments to F8

Section and subject area

Syllabus content

B3b)  Describe the audit risks in the financial statements and explain the auditor’s response to each risk

Outcome verbs amended to better reflect the level of knowledge required and exam requirement wording

 

E5  Independent Auditor’s report

 

E5)  Subject heading wording changed to refer to Independent Auditor’s Report

 

F9, FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
There are no amendments to the F9 syllabus for exams from September 2017.

ACCA Professional Level

As ACCA has already announced the new Strategic Professional exams, which will replace the Professional Level from September 2018, only minimal changes have been made for the last year of examining the current syllabuses for these exams. The syllabus and specimen exams for Strategic Professional are available on the ACCA Qualification – the future microsite.

The planned changes for exams from September 2017 are detailed below.

P1, GOVERNANCE, RISKS AND ETHICS
There have been no changes planned to P1 from September 2017.

P2 (INT), CORPORATE REPORTING
The only changes to the P2 (INT) syllabus from September 2017, reflect the fact that IFRS 16, Leases is examinable from September 2017 and are detailed in Table 9 below.

Table 9 – Amendments to P2

Section and subject area

Syllabus content

B4 Leases     

B4 Leases

a. Apply and discuss  the accounting for leases by lessees including the measurement of the right of use asset and liability

b. Apply and discuss the accounting for leases by lessors

c. Apply and discuss the circumstances where there may be re-measurement of the lease liability

d. Apply and discuss the reasons behind the separation of the components of a lease contract into lease and no lease elements

e. Discuss the recognition exemptions under the current leasing standard

f. Account for and discuss sale and leaseback transactions

The list of examinable documents is updated each year; this should be read in conjunction with the syllabus.

P3, BUSINESS ANALYSIS
There have been no changes planned to P3 for exams from September 2017.

P4, ADVANCED FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
There have been no changes planned to P4 for exams from September 2017.

P5, ADVANCED PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT
Changes to the P5 syllabus are detailed below in Table 10:

Table 10: Amendments to P5 

Section and subject area

Syllabus content

A Strategic planning and control

A1e)  This has been clarified to specify Porter’s generic strategies and 5 Forces models

P6 (UK), ADVANCED TAXATION
The main changes to the syllabus, effective from June 2017, are shown in Tables 11 and 12 below.

Table 11 – Additions to P6 (UK)

Section and subject area

Amendment

A1e) – Property and investment income

New part (ii) on the tax treatment of savings income paid net of tax added

A1f) – The comprehensive computation of taxable income and the income tax liability

New part (i) on the allocation of the personal allowance to different categories of income added

A2e) – Gains and losses on the disposal of movable and immovable property – Excluded topic

Mixed use property

A1 – Income and income tax liabilities in situations involving further overseas aspects and in relation to trusts, and the application of exemptions and reliefs – Excluded topicProfits of non-residents from a trade of dealing in or developing land in the UK
A4 – Corporation tax liabilities in situations involving further overseas and group aspects and in relation to special types of company, and the application of additional exemptions and reliefs – Excluded topic

Profits of non-residents from a trade of dealing in or developing land in the UK

 

Table 12 – Deletions from P6 (UK)

Section and subject area

Amendment

A1e) – Property and investment income

Part (i) on the accrued income scheme deleted as this has been moved down to F6 (UK) and thus is brought forward knowledge

A1 – Income and income tax liabilities in situations involving further overseas aspects and in relation to trusts, and the applications and reliefs – Excluded topic

Excluded topic on contracted out contributions deleted as no longer relevant

P7 (INT), ADVANCED AUDIT AND ASSURANCE
Changes to the P7 (INT) syllabus are summarised in Table 13 below:

Table 13: Changes to  P7 (INT) 

Section and subject area

Syllabus content

A1b)  New sub-learning outcome added to ensure that the overall impact of corporate governance principles on the audit process are considered

 

b)  Outline and explain the need for the legal and professional framework including:

i) public oversight of audit and assurance practice

ii) the impact of the UK Corporate Governance Code and its impact on audit and assurance practice

iii) the role of audit committees and impact on audit and assurance practice

A2)  Learning outcome a) and b) combined for simplicity

a)  Define ‘money laundering’ and discuss international methods for combating money laundering.

A2e)  Learning outcome expanded to include the need to identify information that can be used in Client Due Diligence (Know your client)

e)  Explain the importance of know your customer (KYC) information and recommend the information that should be gathered as part of KYC

B3a) combined with B3c) to better reflect the requirements in relation to  legal liability of auditors

a)  Recognise circumstances in which professional accountants may have legal liability and the criteria that need to be satisfied for legal liability to be recognised

B3d) combined with B3e) to better connect methods of reducing liability 

d)  Evaluate the practicability and effectiveness of ways in which liability may be restricted including the use of liability limitation agreements

B3g) and B3h) combined to better connect the outcomes related to the expectations gap

e)  Discuss and appraise the principal causes of audit failure and other factors that contribute to the ‘expectation gap’ (e.g. responsibilities for fraud and error) and recommend ways in which the expectation gap might be bridged

B1f)  New outcome covering the ethical implications of providing non-audit services

f)  Consider the ethical implications of the external auditor providing non-audit services to a client including an internal audit service

C4a)  Outcome extended to specifically refer to continuance decisions 

a)  Explain the matters to be considered and the procedures that an audit firm/professional accountant should carry out before accepting a specified new client/engagement or continuing with an existing engagement

D2a)  Outcome extended to specifically refer to relevant procedures

a)  Identify and describe audit procedures (including substantive and tests of control) to obtain sufficient, appropriate audit evidence from identified sources including an assessment of the use of IT to assist the auditor and the use of Computer-assisted audit techniques (CAATs) where appropriate

F1f)  Outcome extended to specifically refer to KAM disclosure requirements as per ISA 701

f)  Recognise when the use of an emphasis of matter paragraph. other matter paragraph and extended auditor’s report requirements would be appropriate

 

F1g)  Previously outcome D3e) moved as refers to reporting implications of Other Information and more appropriate in reporting section

g)  Discuss the courses of action available to an auditor if a material inconsistency or material misstatement exists in relation to other information such as contained in the integrated report

G1a), b) and c) replaced with two more outcomes specifically focused on the changes and current developments relevant to the profession and being initiated by the relevant regulatory bodies

a)  Discuss emerging ethical issues and evaluate the potential impact on the profession, firms and auditors

b)  Discuss the content and impact of exposure drafts, consultations and other pronouncements issued by FRC and IFAC and its supporting bodies (including IAASB, IESBA and TAC)

G4a)  Outcome verb changed to better reflect exam requirements

a)  Discuss current developments in auditing standards including the need for new and revised standards and evaluate their impact on the conduct of audits

G4b)  Outcome rewritten to better reflect other relevant current issues

b)  Discuss current developments in business practices, practice management and audit methodology and evaluate the potential impact on the conduct of an audit and audit quality

G4c)  New outcome regarding the impact of emerging technologies of the profession

c)  Discuss current developments in emerging technologies, including big data and the use of data analytics and the potential impact on the conduct of an audit and audit quality

Changes to the Foundations Level and
CAT syllabuses

There are very few changes to the Foundations Level or CAT syllabuses except for FTX, Foundations in Taxation.

For specific information about any changes to these syllabuses, please access the relevant syllabus and study guide from the student resources on the ACCA website.

For the September 2017 update in FFA/F3, FA1 and FA2 exams, please note that the treatment of discounts is changing to align with the principles of IFRS 15, Revenue. The examining team has published an article explaining this.