Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme (CSQS)

Summary

The Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme (CSQS) is the benchmark qualification for governance professionals. It builds a unique breadth of technical skills that equip you for a varied career at board level and validates your knowledge with an internationally respected accreditation.

Chartered Secretaries hold a range of jobs such as Corporate Counsel, Company Secretary, and Head of Governance, Risk and Compliance. What unites them is knowledge of legal and regulatory requirements, understanding of corporate strategy and structures, and the skills to support and advise, enabling directors and the board to make the right decisions.

Find out more about being a company secretary.

Qualifying with ICSA gives you technical know-how, critical skills and validation of your professional knowledge. There are many routes through CSQS according to your needs and background. Discover which is for you.

What is CSQS?

The Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme (CSQS) is a postgraduate-level award that qualifies professionals in company secretarial practice, governance and strategic management. It is recognised across sectors and industries and offers access to a network of like-minded individuals and ongoing development opportunities through membership of ICSA: The Governance Institute.

Whether you are a recent graduate finding your way or an established lawyer seeking to build on your experience and broaden your horizon, CSQS gives you access to a fascinating and rewarding career in governance. See if CSQS is right for you.

Many people find themselves studying CSQS when swapping to a governance role mid-career, often from a legal or accountancy background. Those already in governance roles will develop the technical skills which help them in their daily work and identify opportunities for career progression.

  • 'I felt CSQS could provide me with the foundations for a challenging and varied career… I like the fact there is a broad range of expertise within the qualification, which gives scope for sustained career experience.'
    Laura Ganderton BSC, CSQS Student

Can I study CSQS?

The Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme (CSQS) has four main routes of entry. These routes take into consideration previous study, work experience and any significant exposure to the role.

Standard Route

An open, broad-based learning route for those looking to launch their career. This route comprises all eight modules and is for those who do not have a university degree or have a degree without law or finance content. Visit ‘Modules’ to discover more.

Law or Finance Exemption Routes

  • Degree Route – If you have a degree in law or finance you may be eligible for exemption from two modules.
  • Professional Route - Qualified accountants or lawyers with up to five years’ professional experience may apply for exemption from four modules.

Fast Track Route

Fast Track Professional – If you are a qualified accountant or lawyer with more than five years’ relevant professional experience you may be eligible for our fast track professional route, requiring you to complete just two modules.

If you would like to speak to someone about your route through CSQS, please contact our friendly Members and Students team on +44 (0)20 7580 4741 or email studentsupport@icsa.org.uk

Modules

There are eight CSQS modules, divided into Stage 1 and Stage 2. These are set at Level 6 and 7 respectively (see what these levels mean compared to other UK qualifications). Detailed information about each module syllabus, sample exam papers, suggested answers and study texts are available here.

STAGE ONE (Level 6)

  • Financial Reporting and Analysis 
  • Applied Business Law 
  • Corporate Governance OR Health Service Governance
  • Corporate Law 

STAGE TWO (Level 7)

  • Financial Decision Making
  • Strategy in Practice
  • Corporate Secretarial Practice
  • Chartered Secretaries Case Study 

Achieving chartered status

Successful completion of all CSQS Stage One modules allows you to apply for the Professional Diploma in Governance (or Health Service Governance if that module was selected). Find out more here.

Once you have passed all the CSQS modules required, you will become a Graduate member of ICSA and will be able to use the post-nominal GradICSA, signifying your technical and analytical knowledge. This post nominal is internationally recognised.

You can apply for chartered status once you have completed six years of appropriate professional experience or three years if you also have a degree. This experience can be gained while you are studying CSQS. When you become an Associate of ICSA you are then a Chartered Secretary and can use the post-nominal ACIS.

Find out more about chartered membership.

Exam information

Each module consists of a final three hour written exam, plus 15 minutes reading time. The pass mark for each exam is 50%. 

Exam sessions

You must register for the sessions by the deadlines below. 

Exam SessionsDeadline
November 1 October
June 1 April

See the exam timetable and dates for the next exam sessions.

We have exam centres all over the world as well as in the UK and you choose which exam centre to sit at when you enter for the exam. If there isn’t a centre in your country or area, it may be possible to arrange a special centre.

Exam entries can be changed on payment of an administration fee up to the exam closing date for each session. After this date it is not possible to change your entry.

Please check your exam entries carefully to confirm you are entered for the correct session, module and exam centre.

How do I study?

CSQS is highly technical and set at a high level, so students are advised to commit approximately 150 hours study for each module. Consistent learning practices are strongly recommended and incorporating a study plan allows for comfortable student progression.

Tuition or self-study options are available to all CSQS students, and students who register for tuition are more successful in achieving their goals on the course.

TUITION (RECOMMENDED)

CSQS students who study with a tuition provider have a higher chance of passing the exams. This is the recommended study route for CSQS, providing an additional support network for students.

As well as higher pass rates, benefits include:

  • Ability to submit practice papers for continued feedback and guidance
  • Attending sessions with facilitators to help set the pace of study
  • Fast, practical answers to any queries throughout the course
  • Regular contact with an expert tutor

You can purchase tuition from one of our registered tuition providers with options to suit your situation and budget, including distance learning, face-to-face classes and blended learning.

Be sure to also register with ICSA to confirm which modules you need to take and to enter for your exams.

SELF-STUDY

Self-study is also an option, where you prepare for the exam yourself without purchasing any tuition.

This route has proven to be more challenging and requires self-driven individuals and commitment to a realistic study plan. However, there is flexibility with study texts provided for each module along with online tools such as webinars, past papers and a study skills e-book. Study support is also available to each student.

How much will it cost me?

Registration fees: If you are starting CSQS there is a one-off fee to register as an ICSA student.

Subscription fees: Paid annually by all students. The first payment is due upon registration and is calculated according to the ICSA membership calendar.

DescriptionUK and overseasReduced rate countries*
One-off registration £130 £72
Annual subscription (1 Aug – 31 July) £180 £125
Half year subscription (1 Feb – 31 July) £90 £62.50

Exemption fees: Applicable once your route has been confirmed and payable within six weeks of the date of registration

DescriptionUK and overseasReduced rate countries*
Exemption fee (per module) £220 £150

Exam fees: Payable when you want to sit an exam (by 1 April for the June exams and 1 October for November exams).

DescriptionUK and overseasReduced rate countries*
Exam fee (per module) £220 £150
Resit fee (per module) £220 £150
Postponement fee (per module) £110 £75
Chartered Secretaries case study fee £300 £228

Fast track professional fees: The package price includes: an initial registration fee, one year annual subscription, all exemption fees, one exam entry per module and six months access to CSPOnline

DescriptionUK and overseasReduced rate countries*
Fast Track professional fee £1800 £1200

The complete list of costs is available here.

Reduced fees

Reduced rates apply for CSQS students living, registered and sitting their examinations in a number of countries. See all countries that are eligible for the reduced rate.

The reduced subscription includes a digital version of Governance and Compliance (G&C) magazine and all other student benefits. Printed copies of the Governance and Compliance magazine are available to students living in these countries for a subscription fee of £30 per year. Please email our friendly Student and Members team at studentsupport@icsa.org.uk to arrange this. 

Why study with ICSA?

Every ICSA registered student gets the following study support:

  • Access to past papers, suggested answers and other study materials via MyICSA, the secure area of our website especially for ICSA students and members.
  • Access to module-specific webinars and recordings, presented by the examiner of the module.
  • A comprehensive study skills e-book
  • Free study support webinars in areas such as planning your study and exam techniques.

Register

Apply Online

Complete your registration and start your CSQS student journey today. By completing a few simple questions, we can look at your skills and experience to find the right route for you.  

If you wish to apply for exemptions, you must submit certified copies of your academic or professional qualifications and transcripts and/ or evidence of membership of relevant professional bodies. 

Register now

Students are required to abide by the Student rules and regulations and follow the Code of professional ethics and conduct.



Paper Application

If you would prefer to send your application by post, please download, print and complete the following application forms. Submissions for exemption routes must include certified copies of your academic or professional qualifications and transcripts and/ or evidence of membership of relevant professional bodies. 

Payment

You can pay your registration and subscription fees in one of the following ways:

Submission

Please send the relevant forms and accompanying payment details to:

Members and Students
ICSA
Saffron House
6–10 Kirby Street
London UK
EC1N 8TS

If you would like to speak to someone about your best options for CSQS, please contact us

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