Foundation Programme

Every journey has a beginning


Start your path to Chartered Secretary or Governance Professional status with the ICSA Foundation Programme.

If you do not have the academic or professional experience to meet the requirements to begin studying on the qualifying programme at Part One, our Foundation Programme is there to give you the relevant skills and knowledge to get you started. The Foundation Programme is your first step to completing the ICSA qualifying programme which is designed to put you on the path to a career as a governance professional or company secretary.


This programme is open entry. This means no prior qualifications are needed to start the Foundation Progamme. We welcome applications from the UK or internationally.

The Foundation Programme has been especially devised to support you if you do not have a law or finance background and have fewer than five years' experience in a governance or company secretarial role. It is a Level 4 qualification, set at the same academic level of a first year undergraduate degree to prepare you to meet the demands of study at Part One and Part Two of the qualifying programme as you progress towards qualifying as a chartered secretary or governance professional.


The Foundation Programme comprises four modules covering the following subjects:

  • Business environment – how businesses are organised and run and how the external environment affects business activities
  • Law – an introduction to corporate and business (commercial) law and the legal framework within which businesses operate
  • Company compliance and administration – introducing legal, ownership and management structures for companies, how companies are incorporated and routine company compliance and governance obligations
  • Finance – the basics of bookkeeping and how to understand the components of financial documentation as well as the principles of financial decision making.


We recommend up to 200 hours of study this course which will take around six to nine months.

Your assessment will consist of one exam of 3 hours with 15 minutes reading time covering all four modules and can be taken in June and November each year. The exam paper contains a mixture of short- and extended-answer questions with a pass mark of 50%.

The syllabus and sample assessment materials will be available from June 2018 and the first exam session takes place in November 2018.


UK and overseas

Reduced rate

Exam fee (per module)



Cost to achieve GradICSA



You will also need to join ICSA as a student member to sit our exams. Learn more about the benefits of ICSA membership.


Register from 3 April

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