Undertaking a professional qualification like CSQS is a big decision and requires careful consideration. This page is offers things to consider before registering for CSQS, plus tips for preparation if you think you might need a bit more background information before making a decision.

You can also discuss the relevance and suitability of your qualifications and experience with our Members and Students Team, call +44 (0)20 7580 4741 or contact us

Think about...eligibility

Entry requirements
To register as an ICSA student you must be 16 years of age or over. CSQS is open-entry qualification; we leave it up to you to decide whether your previous qualifications or experience are suitable.

That said, it's worth bearing in mind that CSQS is set at levels six and seven on the UK Higher Education Framework – the equivalent of a final year undergraduate degree and a masters programme, respectively. If you have no degree-level qualifications or relevant professional experience, think about the level and breadth of the qualification before registering.

All ICSA study material is produced in English. All examinations are all conducted in English.

If English is not your first language, we recommend a score of six or above on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or equivalent. It will help if you have previously studied other subjects or have done essay-style assessment in English before.

Think about...time commitment

The vast majority of our students study whilst they work, so it's good to think about time commitment required for CSQS and how it might fit into your existing schedule.

We recommend 150 hours of study per module – incorporating tuition, reading the study text, wider reading, online support, study time with other candidates, practice assessments and the exam. Exam are held twice a year in June and November. You can take a maximum of two exams in a single session.

Thinking about how many modules you will be taking and how many hours per week you can dedicate to study will give you an indication of how long it might take to complete CSQS. 

For example, if you took the standard route and did a single module at every exam session, that would require a minimum of six hours' study per week. If you passed the exam each time, you could complete CSQS in as little as four years.

Think about...existing knowledge, qualifications and experience

CSQS covers subject areas including law, governance, finance, accounting and business strategy, with the modules corporate governance and corporate secretarial practice at its core.
Many ICSA students have previously studied some of these areas but may feel less confident about other modules.

If there are subjects that you haven't studied at all, or perhaps just not for a while, then consider doing some preliminary reading or study at an introductory level before starting those modules.

For example, someone with a legal background and working in a company secretarial department may have the theoretical knowledge and practical experience to take the law, governance and secretarial practice modules, but for the finance modules, however, it may be worthwhile for them to read an introduction to accounting book or taking classes in preparation for studying these subjects.

If you feel like you'd benefit from some preparatory study, then here are our suggestions to guide you in the right direction.

  1. Reading – Check the recommended study texts for the CSQS modules. This will give you a good indication of module coverage and the level. You can check our background reading list too. If you don't want to buy lots of books, you could enquire at your local university library and see if you can gain access to the books there.
  2. Online research – There are a number of archives of educational material freely available online. Check the iTunes U website, which contains complete business study programmes from Yale, Stanford and the Open University.
  3. Training courses – ICSA run a variety of introductory half- and one-day training courses in subjects including company law, governance and company secretarial practice. Check our training courses page.
  4. Introductory qualifications – If you'd benefit from an introductory qualification, we run a number of certificate-level courses that incorporate elements of finance, law, business strategy and company secretarial study. Our Professional Development Awards – Company Law and Compliance in Listed Companies, Company Law and Compliance in Unlisted Companies and Core Skills for Support Staff – comprise four training days, giving a solid foundation on the law and regulation within which the work of governance and compliance is undertaken. 

Think about...tuition

If you think you're ready to start studying CSQS, it's worth considering how you want to study: either buying tuition with one of our registered tuition providers or taking the self-study route.

There is no requirement that you sign up for classes to study CSQS, so you may decide that studying with the recommended text and other sources on your own is sufficient preparation, especially if you have studied and passed exams in the subject area before. 

However, ICSA strongly recommends that as well as registering with us, you sign up with one of our Registered Tuition Providers (RTPs) to study for the course – you may wish to contact more than one of our RTPs to discuss your study options before registering.

Think about...terms and conditions

It's the bit that people often prefer to skip over, but make sure you've read our terms and conditions and student regulations before applying.

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