Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA)

Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme (CSQS)

BPP is proud to have accredited status with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) – the international qualifying and Membership body for the Chartered Secretary profession and the world's leading authority on governance and compliance.

We've been offering the ICSA qualification for many years and have structured the courses to meet a whole range of study requirements. With our excellent study materials, highly qualified tutors and helpful administrative support, BPP can offer you a successful ICSA study experience, equipping you for a variety of different career paths.

Valued worldwide by employers, this highly marketable qualification comprises of eight modules. You may need to study all eight modules or, depending on your existing qualifications, you may be exempt from some.

ICSA – Key information

  • Many years experience of offering ICSA courses

  • Consistently achieve outstanding pass rates

  • Regularly have prizewinners from within our classes

  • Face to face, Online Classroom and Online Classroom Live study options

  • Access to some of the best teaching and learning materials on the market


CSQS Modules

To achieve the full qualification you will need to successfully complete all of the eight modules listed below.

Assessment for each module is by examination. These are held in June and November.

Level 1

Financial Reporting and Analysis

In professional practice, the Chartered Secretary has to be competent in financial accounting and reporting. In public practice and in some other organisations, the Chartered Secretary may also be called upon to fulfil the role of corporate accountant. There, the emphasis is normally on accounting for purpose rather than on detailed accounting techniques.

Chartered Secretaries need to understand the significance and relevance of accounting information and the process by which it is acquired. Core responsibilities also include compliance with legal and stakeholder requirements, including financial statements. In the boardroom, Chartered Secretaries contribute to the analysis, presentation and interpretation of corporate financial performance and results, including the implications for the organisation, shareholders and stakeholders and for effective corporate governance.

The aim of the module is to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for you to understand and supervise the execution of these professional responsibilities.

Applied Business Law

The module provides a general framework of the legal principles underpinning business law, as appropriate to the role of the Chartered Secretary.

The aim of this module is to facilitate an understanding of the basic principles and how they should be applied within a commercial framework. For example, you will be required to apply the principles of contract law to specific contracts such as the contract of employment and consumer contracts.

Chartered Secretaries are required to have a sound knowledge and understanding of the legal framework and how it applies in a business context and the overall aim of this module is to facilitate and develop your understanding of business law in the context of the business environment.

Corporate Governance OR Health Service Governance

The aim of the Corporate Governance module is to equip you with the knowledge and key skills necessary to act as adviser to governing authorities across the private, public and voluntary sectors. The advice of the Chartered Secretary will include all aspects of the governance obligations of organisations, covering not only legal duties, but also applicable and recommended standards of best practice.

The module will enable you to develop a sound understanding of corporate governance law and practice in a national and international context. It will also enable you to support the development of good governance and stakeholder dialogue throughout the organisation, irrespective of sector, being aware of legal obligations and best practice.

Corporate Law

This module provides you with an understanding of the legal framework governing organisations with particular focus on the registered company but with applications in all sectors. Its themes relate closely to those of the Corporate Governance module and draw heavily upon the Companies Act 2006 and the role of the Chartered Secretary.

Chartered Secretaries work in a range of organisations and are involved with issues of regulatory compliance. The aim of the module is to provide you with an understanding of the legal framework governing a range of organisations, dealing with legal principles, their practical application and governance issues that may arise.

Level 2

Financial Decision Making

The Chartered Secretary has the responsibility of helping to ensure that decisions are properly made and implemented, and that appropriate risk management systems are in place, to maximise value for key stakeholders of the organisation. An understanding of how value is created or destroyed is therefore central to the governance of organisations in all sectors.

Although not always required to perform detailed treasury or finance functions, Chartered Secretaries need to have a clear understanding of how the process of creating and safeguarding value is managed in the organisation to assess the implications for shareholders and other stakeholders, and the need for effective corporate governance. They are involved in the implementation of this process through activities such as processing board memoranda relating to investment or financing proposals, raising capital and other funding, managing profits or surpluses, and ensuring both compliance with regulations and good financial administration.

The module aims to provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to evaluate the impact of financial decisions on different constituencies of stakeholder. It will also enable you to participate in decision-making and processes concerning the maximisation of value in investment, finance and risk management, and the delivery of value for money in achieving the objectives of not-for-profit organisations.

Strategy in Practice

This module examines the elements, processes and techniques involved in the development and implementation of organisational strategy. As part of the senior management team, Chartered Secretaries have an important role to play in ensuring that strategy fits organisational purpose, is acceptable in terms of risk, and is consistent with good governance as well as with stakeholder requirements and concerns.

The module assesses the critical role played by Chartered Secretaries as part of the senior management team: ensuring the integrity of the policies, systems and processes that deliver the organisation's strategic purpose and objectives. The obligations of directors, officers and senior employees in the strategic planning and delivery of corporate responsibility are also considered. The module will also require you to understand the ethical considerations raised by the development and implementation of strategy and its impact on reputation.

Corporate Secretarial Practice

This module examines the role of the Chartered Secretary in promoting and reinforcing good governance across the organisation by ensuring compliance with statutory obligations and good practice. In particular, this module explains the role of the Chartered Secretary in devising and overseeing appropriate compliance systems and processes to ensure that the company and its directors are compliant with the Companies Act 2006 and with the company's constitution. The module also deals with managing the practical and company law issues in relation to shareholders.

Chartered Secretaries need to understand the application of statutory requirements and other best practice and how this underpins good governance and compliance, irrespective of sector. The module examines corporate secretaryship practices and processes within legal and other frameworks of best practice and the role of the Chartered Secretary in ensuring organisational effectiveness.

Exam information

There are eight examinations in total. However, your previous qualifications may entitle you to exemptions from certain papers. You should contact ICSA directly for possible exemptions.

You can choose how many exams to take in each sitting, although we recommend that you take no more than three at a time. You are advised to take all Part 1 exams before embarking on Part 2, but this is not compulsory.

Exam dates

Exams are held twice a year, in June and November/December. Beforehand, students must register with ICSA direct, and allow at least 28 days for delivery of the textbook.

Exam format

For most papers, each exam is three hours and 15 minutes long (including reading time).

The marks allocated for all questions total 100. The pass mark is 50%. The marks awarded for each question are shown at the end of each question. If a question is divided into parts, the marks awarded for each part are usually shown – this will act as guide as to how much time to allocate to each part of a question.

Exam Results

Your exam results will be available approximately eight weeks after you have sat your exam.

If you have any problems please contact ICSA on +44 (0) 207 580 4741 for international students and 0207 580 4741 from the UK.

ICSA will give you a student number and confirmation of the time, date and place of the exam. Please ensure that you have these details

Ways to study

The ICSA Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme (CSQS) is available to study in four different ways:

1. Face to face classroom study
2. Online Classroom (OCR) Live
3. Online Classroom
4. Revision only

Allowing you to choose the option that best suits your circumstances.

Classroom study

Combining what you have learned with a revision course will give you the best preparation for exam success.

Through classroom learning you will:

  • Recap the core areas of the syllabus to reinforce and consolidate your knowledge
  • Develop your exam technique to help maximise your marks on every exam question
  • Be given guidance by tutors in managing your time in the exam
  • Review past exam questions and explore what the examiner wants to see in your answers
  • Make the crucial difference between a borderline fail and a confident pass
  • Test your pure knowledge, relevant skills and competencies

Online Classroom Live (OCR Live)

Our OCR Live courses allow you to attend online lectures which are broadcast live and are fully interactive. The live broadcasts are recorded and available for you to watch again, as many times as you like.

It's perfect if you like the discipline of fixed dates and times but want to minimize time out of the office and are not located near our centre in Jersey.

Our online classroom live course:

  • Will give you that classroom feel by allowing you to interact with your fellow students via exercises designed by the tutor
  • Allows you access to the tutor outside of class via email
  • Provides mock exams which are marked and feedback given to help improve performance
  • Gives you an online forum on which you can share questions with your fellow students
  • Includes our course study notes and practice and revision kit

Online Classroom

Our online classroom course gives you the option of studying part-time but with the flexibility of studying remotely, giving you all the structure of a BPP Classroom course, but with all the flexibility of a distance learning programme.

It's perfect if you find it difficult to get to our study centres or would prefer to work from home.

Our online course will:

  • Help you stay focused and on track with our proactive cohort tutor assistance
  • Enable you to review, re-learn and re-test course content
  • Provide you with online lectures recorded by specialist lecturers - a proven success strategy
  • Provide you with comprehensive paper-based materials as well as online access
  • Provide mock exam papers plus marking
  • Enable you to work at home, in the office, on the train, anytime

Revision Only

Our Revision Only study option includes attendance on the revision course plus our BPP revision study material. It's perfect for those students who want to keep the cost of study down whilst still having the opportunity to learn and practice exam skills with an expert tutor.

Study materials

As part of our extensive study materials, our popular course notes are also included as part of your course.

Please see the ICSA recommended study text before attempting any papers.

Free Lifetime Pass Assurance

Our ICSA training delivers a higher than average worldwide pass rate and we're therefore proud of the quality of our education and training. We're also proud of the peace of mind we offer our students with free Pass Assurance that protects you if you fail the exam on your first attempt.

BPP's Pass Assurance varies dependent on how you study, and at which level.

Download Pass Assurance information here.

All terms and conditions stated are subject to BPP's additional Pass Assurance Terms and Conditions.

Learning materials

Please note that Pass Assurance covers the cost of tuition only. Additional BPP Learning Media physical study materials are not included. You will get full online support with updated and refreshed content.

Additional support

Should you fail your exam and you don't qualify for lifetime pass assurance we can still offer you support. Please contact your tutor or call the ICSA Course Administrator so we can advise you on your next steps.

Download Course Booking Form

Entry requirements

Anyone can register to attempt the Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme (CSQS).

If you are a fully-qualified lawyer or accountant with over five years professional experience, or have certain qualifications and work experience you may be exempt from some modules.

You may also be eligible to study ICSA's CSQS via their Fast-Track professional route.

For more information about exemptions and the Fast-Track professional route contact ICSA.

ICSA Fast-track

Qualified lawyers or accountants with more than five year's post-qualifying experience and who meet the scheme's entry requirements can take the fast track professional route through CSQS. This entitles you to exemptions from all but two CSQS modules.

Who can register?

To apply for the fast track professional route, you must have been qualified for five years or more and have five years appropriate experience.

Qualified accountants must also be a current member of one of the following major accountancy bodies:

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
  • Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)

Qualified lawyers must be a current member of the Law Society or compliant with the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Regulations. Non-UK qualified lawyers must be a qualified solicitor registered with their country's equivalent of the UK Law Society.

Course content

As a fully qualified lawyer or accountant, you will already have the expert company and commercial experience required. Therefore the fast track professional route only requires you to take two of the eight CSQS modules at level two:

  • Corporate Secretarial Practice - examines the role of the Chartered Secretary in promoting and reinforcing good governance across an organisation through compliance with statutory obligations.
  • Chartered Secretary's Case Study - this module draws on knowledge from all the syllabuses of the other seven modules, demonstrating mastery of the content of CSQS and application of the required knowledge and skills to a business case example

Next Steps...

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