Certificate in Charity Law and Governance

'People in a leadership position in a medium, large or complex charity need this technical knowledge. I now have a much better sense of what the requirements and pitfalls are, what to look for and the differences between corporate and charity law. It has enabled me to effect continuous improvement within my own organisation.'
Student, CEO, Housing Trust

Free affiliateship

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


The ICSA Level 4 Certificate in Charity Law and Governance qualification (equivalent to first year undergraduate) is an introductory programme that has been developed for individuals working in charities (registered and unregistered) in England and Wales. It is ideal for those working in roles affected by legal regulation and governance issues and for those with governance responsibilities.

The qualification introduces the legal framework within which the law and regulation of charities and charitable activity in England and Wales is set, and it covers the key components of effective governance in charities in relation to issues such as generating income and managing assets.

The qualification comprises six compulsory modules followed by one exam that tests knowledge of all six modules. Successful completion of all six modules results in the awarding of a certificate.


The ICSA Level 4 Certificate in Charity Law and Governance qualification is open entry, which means you do not need any prior qualifications to register on it, although it does help to be working in a related field.

Particular job roles may include:

  • Head of Governance
  • Company Secretary/Assistant
  • Company Secretary/Clerks to the Board
  • Head of Administration
  • Charity Director
  • Charity Officers
  • Managers and Administrators


The ICSA Level 4 Certificate in Charity Law and Governance syllabus comprises six modules covering key aspects of charity law and governance:

Module 1: Charity Law

Module 2: Structures and Legal Forms

Module 3: Compliance and Regulation

Module 4: Governance

Module 5: Sources of Income (Generating Resources)

Module 6: Stewardship of Funds and Assets

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 a mixture of short- and extended-answer questions.

Detailed information on the syllabus, a sample exam paper and a mark scheme are available below:


This course is based around a self-study model, and therefore requires a significant commitment to study, on top of the provided webinar sessions.

Recommended study time for the whole course is 200 hours (which includes all webinar sessions and the examination), which is approximately 6-9 months of study. If you are considering studying for the exam in a shorter timeframe, we recommend that you discuss your choice with our Members and Students team first as they can advise on when it is best to register on the qualification. Please see ‘More info’ section for further guidance.

When registering for the course, you must pick from one of the next two exam sessions upon registration. The next available exam sitting is June 2018 (dates to be announced). 

Webinar and practice task programme

A five month course of webinars runs from January to May every year in which you can join live teaching sessions at a scheduled time or view a recording afterwards. The webinars cover the syllabus content as well as study skills and exam strategy. To take advantage of this service, you will need to have registered and paid for your qualification by mid-January at the latest. A practice task service also operates during the course of live webinars – this involves an examiner marking and providing feedback on your answers to two practice essay questions.

If you choose to register on the qualification at any other time of the year, you will have access to all of the recorded webinar sessions that have already taken place, but no practice task service. You can register on this qualification and start studying at any time during the year, although to get the most out of the resources provided, we recommend that you register in time for the start of the live webinar course in January.

Registration and exam entry


The fee for this qualification is £1,500. We will be happy to discuss payment by instalments with you – please call 020 7580 4741 or contact us

The one-off fee for the qualification includes:

  • Registration and certification fees
  • One exam entry (choice between next two available exam sessions)
  • Course webinars (and practice task service if registering before mid - January)
  • ICSA student membership throughout your course
  • E-copies of the syllabus and sample assessment materials
  • E-copy of the Charity Law and Governance study text
  • ICSA affiliate membership for one year upon successful completion of the qualification.
Additional fees 
Exam re-sit £155
Exam postponement (per exam) £80
Deferment (per exam) £30



Receive 50% off your course fee with a bursary from ICSA

Supported by The Chartered Secretaries’ Charitable Trust, ICSA are delighted to offer a £750 bursary to one eligible student for the next exam session (June 2018).

To apply for an ICSA bursary, your charity must:

  • be registered with the Charity Commission
  • have submitted its last three annual returns to the Commission on time
  • have a gross annual income in the region of £10,000 - £100,000
  • be able to provide £750 towards your qualification fee.

Please apply for your bursary here


Take these simple steps to register for the Certificate in Charity Law and Governance.

1. Complete the registration and exam entry form

 Fill out the registration form: 

2. Organise payment

The fee for the Certificate in Charity Law and Governance is a one-off fee. You can pay for this qualification in one of the following ways:

If you do not have a credit or debit card, you can download a paper application form, enclosing a cheque for the fees.

To enter for an exam re-sit, download the exam re-sit form and send with payment, either a cheque or a completed card payment form.

3. Send forms and payment

Send your completed forms along with your payment to studentsupport@icsa.org.uk 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.

More info

If you have any questions about ICSA qualifications or would like to speak to someone about taking the Level 4 Certificate in Charity Law and Governance, please call +44 (0)20 7580 4741 or contact us

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