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

Become an Affiliated member

Students who successfully complete the Advanced Certificate in Health Service Governance are eligible to become Affiliated members and continue to benefit from the knowledge and support of our governance and compliance community.


The only qualification of its kind in the sector, this Advanced Certificate (graduate level) course provides insight into the specific governance issues facing the NHS in England, which are significantly different from commercial or other public sector organisations. The qualification will enable you interpret the legal and regulatory frameworks and governance structures within the NHS, helping you to support the development of effective governance practices across your organisation.


This qualification is designed or those working in a management or administrative role in the NHS, usually in CCGs, NHS Trusts or Foundation Trusts, with responsibility for health service governance/administration, or for those wanting to work in the health service sector 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 in 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 course includes a programme which starts in September and is supported by live webinars until the following May.

Please note that if you intend to enrol onto this course after 1 November, you will need to contact the Learning and Support Manager at

Webinars are delivered at least once per month and are run using the Adobe Connect platform (you will need an internet 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. 

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

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. 

The ICSA Health Service Governance Handbook, 2nd edition is available to buy from the ICSA shop.

Course Fee £1045

Students for this qualification pay a single one-off fee of £1045, 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 £225
HSG exam postponement £113
Late exam entry (up to five days after closing date) £103
Extra late exam entry* (more than five days after closing date) £205
Exam entry change admin fee (applicable any time after entry processing) £30
Refund admin fee (applicable if refund granted) £57
Script report £82
Student transcript £30
Ex-student transcript £57
Replacement certificate £20


Take these simple steps to register for the Advanced Certificate in Health Service Governance. Please note that if you intend to enrol onto this course after 1 November, you will need to contact the Learning and Support Manager at

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, ICSA, Saffron House, 6–10 Kirby Street, London, EC1N 8TS

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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