Advanced Certificate in Health Service Governance

“It was good to learn about Executive Directors and their accountability, governance structures, NEDS and conflicts between different boards. Understanding how it all slots together ... gives a good overview”
Terence Dourado, Deputy Board Secretary, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust

Free affiliateship

Students who successfully complete the Advanced Certificate in Health Service Governance qualification are eligible for 12 months free affiliateship. Continue to benefit from the knowledge and support of our governance and compliance community.


There are key differences between governance in the health service and corporate governance, which is why we've developed a qualification especially for governance professionals that work in or with the NHS in England.

Our Advanced Certificate in Health Service Governance will equip you with a sound understanding of the principles and practices of governance in the NHS, and the skills to be able to manage it effectively and support the development of good governance throughout the organisation.

The Advanced Certificate in Health Service Governance is a level six qualification (final year undergraduate level) and the only one of its kind to be offered in a self-study, distance learning format. Completion of course results in the awarding of a certificate.

Those who complete the Certificate qualification can go on to study for CSQS, and are exempt from the Corporate Governance/Health Service Governance module.


This qualification is designed for anyone who works in the NHS and has responsibility for health service governance/administration, or for those wanting to work in the health service in a governance capacity, for example:

  • Board or trust secretaries in Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Commissioning Support Units (CSUs), NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts
  • Directors of corporate governance, corporate affairs, legal, or compliance in CSUs, NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts
  • Governance officers or managers CCGs, CSUs, NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts
  • Non-executive directors in NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts
  • Lay members and accountable officers in CCGs
  • Practice managers in GP practices.

The Advanced Certificate in Health Service Governance is an open-entry qualification, although we recommend that students are working in a relevant role and have some work experience in the area.

If you would like advice on how well your prior work experience or qualifications prepare you to undertake this course, please contact or call +44 (0)20 7580 4741.


The Health Service Governance course is delivered via nine, one-hour live webinars. The course runs once a year between September to November. 

The course will cover:

  • Introduction to the course and study skills
  • The governance landscape and theoretical frameworks
  • Governance Structures and individual duties
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Exam Strategy
  • Foundation Trusts
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups and new models of care
  • Risk Management, Assurance and Audit
  • Exam overview and skills

You can expect to attend a webinar either every week or every fortnight. Webinars are run using the Adobe Connect platform and you will need an Internet Broadband connection to attend. You will be able to hear the presenters and you can communicate with the speakers and other attendees via the chat function. You will get a copy of the slides, accompanying material and recording after each webinar session.

Two practice tasks are set during the course which are intended to support revision around certain topics and will help you to prepare for the exam. These do not count towards the final assessment but will provide feedback on your progress.

Assessment of the course is via one exam (3 hours with an extra 15 minutes reading time), taken in June and November each year. The exam paper contains six questions, of which you attempt four. Each question carries 25 marks. 

Detailed information on the syllabus, a sample exam paper and suggested answers are available below.


The recommended study time for the Health Service Governance course is 150 hours which includes the webinars, practice tasks and exam time. The course is based around a self-study model and you will be expected to study approximately eight hours per week to prepare for the exam. Most students commencing study on this course are in full time employment within the NHS and therefore we recommend that you carefully consider which exam session you are able to prepare for. 

Your course fee includes the study text, an e-copy of the ICSA Health Service Governance Handbook, and the student guide. You can buy the hard copy from the ICSA shop at extra cost. 
As an ICSA student you have access to the online student website, MyICSA, where you will find the syllabus, past papers, suggested answers and study support material. 

Course Fee £1020

Students for this qualification pay a single one-off fee of £1020, which covers the cost of the study text, a single exam registration and webinars.  

There are fees applicable for exam resits and postponements, as follows:

Additional fees (no reduced fees available)
Exam re-sit £220
HSG exam postponement £110
Late exam entry (up to five days after closing date) £100
Extra late exam entry* (more than five days after closing date) £200
Exam entry change admin fee (applicable any time after entry processing) £30
Refund admin fee (applicable if refund granted) £55
Script report £80
Student transcript £30
Ex-student transcript £55
Replacement certificate £20


Take these simple steps to register for the Advanced Certificate in Health Service Governance.

1. Complete the registration and exam entry form

 Fill out the registration form: 

2. Organise payment

The fee for the Advanced Certificate in Health Service Governance is a one-off fee. You can pay for this qualification in one of the following ways:

3. Send forms and payment

Send your completed forms along with your payment to or by post to:

Members and Students
Saffron House
6–10 Kirby Street

Once these have been received and payment authorised, you will be registered as an ICSA student.

If you have any questions, or would like to speak to someone about taking the Advanced Certificate in Health Service Governance, please contact our friendly Members and Students team on +44 (0)20 7580 4741 or email

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