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Changes To The CIMA Syllabus

When and why does the syllabus change?

Changes to the CIMA syllabus are designed to keep the CIMA qualification as up to date and as relevant as possible in the modern world. This means the qualification that you recieve is always viewed upon as a respected and comprehensive qualification.

The most recent professional level syllabus update came with the introduction of the 2019 syllabus. This update used the previous (2015) syllabus as it’s base level, but the impact of changes varied between each of the specific exams. We’ve provided some more details about the changes between the 2015 and 2019 professional level syllabus further down this page.

In 2017, CIMA certificate level received an update. This update changed the structure of the qualification more so than the professional level syllabus update, and resulted in 5 exams being reduced to 4, with content from the previous exams being distrubuted amongst the new exams.

As usual, CIMA will provide plenty of notice for any future updates to the syllabus, reducing the impact on current students. CIMA typically release a transition guide with any new syllabus too, which is designed to help you find the best path between the old and new exams.

What changed with the 2019 professional level syllabus update?

In the 2019 syllabus update, CIMA have recognised the importance of digitalisation within the world of finance, hence the inclusion of more IT related modules throughout the updated syllabus. Here are the reasons behind CIMA’s overhaul of the old syllabus and how it will help you in your accounting career:

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Future-proofing accountants

  • With the rise of AI and computer based systems the role the accountant is changing
  • You will learn how to be effective as a modern day accountant and use advances in IT to your advantage
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Keeping content relevant

  • The updated content will be more relevant to the Management Accountantrole you will eventually find yourself in
  • CIMA aim to continue to develop global, multi-skilled, dynamic professionals

Increase your employability

  • The up to date CIMA qualification will be more attractive to employers
  • The skills you develop will be exactly what employers are looking for in the digital age of accountancy.
CIMA 2019 Syllabus - Why the change - document

To find out more details about the syllabus itself, including how it affected each module, download the CIMA syllabus document.

Here’s how each exam was affected…

To help you get to grips with the CIMA 2019 syllabus, our tutors created a summary of the key changes from the 2015 syllabus.

Some modules were subjected to more changes than others with the introduction of the 2019 CIMA syllabus.

The first diagram here shows all modules, with green highlighting modules that have received minimal change, red highlighting modules that received significant change and orange showing modules with some change.

CIMA E3

New content & some old content dropped

CIMA E2

New content added & old content dropped

CIMA E1

New content & orientation

CIMA P3

New content & some old content moved to F3

CIMA P2

Same broad areas but with digital focus

CIMA P1 

Same broad areas but with digital focus

CIMA F3

New content from P3 & digital focus for old

CIMA F2

New content & digital focus for old content

CIMA F1

Minimal change

CIMA E1 – Managing finance in a digital world

The focus of the E1 syllabus has changed considerably. The main additions cover developments in data use, new technologies and the increasing roles each of them play in modern business management. The new syllabus also explores their importance and value for the finance function. Parts of the syllabus focused on non-finance areas such as HR and Marketing have also been adjusted to focus more on how a finance professional would interact with and support these business areas. Finally, a number of topics such as change management have been removed from the E1 syllabus.

CIMA E1 - 2019 Syllabus Changes

CIMA P1 – Management accounting

The broad areas of the P1 syllabus remain fairly similar to the 2015 syllabus, however a general theme running throughout is a greater focus on digital issues in costing.

Some specific areas such as TQM and JIT are no longer examinable, and new areas such a big data analytics, stress testing budgets and the use of computer or spreadsheet planning models to assist decision making, have been included.

CIMA P1 - 2019 Syllabus Changes

CIMA F1 – Financial reporting

The 2019 F1 syllabus has been gutted with the complete removal of consolidated accounts. Additionally, several key standards (IAS 8, IAS 21, IAS 34 and IFRS 8), intangibles assets (IAS 38), employee benefits (IAS 19) and external audit have all been dropped.

The only new content will be IFRS 17 Leases and it will only be examinable from the perspective of the lessee.

CIMA F1 - 2019 Syllabus Changes

CIMA E2 – Managing performance

The broad themes of the 2019 syllabus are similar to that of 2015, although there is a greater emphasis on business models and value creation whilst the focus in the human aspect of the syllabus has moved towards the management of people.

CIMA E2 - 2019 Syllabus Changes

CIMA P2 – Advanced management accounting

The P2 syllabus remains fairly unchanged compared with some of the other papers in the syllabus. However, some specific parts are being cut down or removed such as learning curves and budgeting.

There will also be more focus on responsibility centres and activity based management. A general theme to the small changes in the P2 syllabus is that the content will have more of a focus on digital products and companies.

CIMA P2 - 2019 Syllabus Changes

CIMA F2 – Advanced financial reporting

The removal of group accounting from the new F1 syllabus means that the introduction to and production of consolidated financial statements, now features more prominently at F2. This is at the expense of more complex topics like group disposals, which have been removed.

There are also several changes to accounting standards to reflect the real life updates to some of these standards in the old syllabus. For example IAS 18 Revenue, which has been replaced by IFRS 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers. Finally several new topics have been included such as IAS 38 Intangible Assets (previously featured in F1) and Integrated Reporting (previously featured in F3).

CIMA F2 - 2019 Syllabus Changes

CIMA E3 – Strategic management

As the 2019 syllabus continues to look at the management of an organisation’s strategy it is very similar to the previous syllabus.

However, what is new to the syllabus is it’s focus on an organisation’s digital strategy and the way that new technology has impacted on it.

CIMA E3 - 2019 Syllabus Changes

CIMA P3 – Risk management

Cash flow risk and capital investment risk (encompassing currency risk, currency hedging techniques, interest rate risk, and investment appraisal risk) have been moved from the old P3 syllabus to the new F3 syllabus.

In their place, there is now cyber risks, which shows how to identify, evaluate, remedy and report risks to an organisation’s cybersecurity.

CIMA P3 - 2019 Syllabus Changes

CIMA F3 – Financial strategy

F3’s content has remained mostly the same with some additions. First and foremost, there is a smaller focus on hedge accounting (reporting). In addition to this, F3 has absorbed the content that has been removed from P3 – financial risk and hedging techniques (greater depth).

In short, F3 has been kept very similar but with an even greater focus on the strategic applications of financial accounting.

CIMA F3 - 2019 Syllabus Changes

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