CIMA Syllabus Overview
The structure of the CIMA syllabus
The CIMA professional level syllabus consists of 3 core pillars, comprising of enterprise, performance and financial, spread across 3 assessment levels (operational, management and strategic).
There are a total of 12 professional level exams for students to pass. These include 9 objective test exams and 3 case study exams.
“When combined with the required practical experience, CIMA qualified members will be capable of supporting and leading their organisations through the challenging environment of constant change. The syllabus, assessments and practical experience requirements ensure members are competent in the essential accounting, finance and business-related skills. It also provides them with the skills required to lead the finance function in a digital age.” – CIMA 2019 Syllabus Document
The CIMA certificate level exams are designed for students looking to become qualified accountants without an accountancy or business background.
The syllabus aims to make a career in accountancy accessible to everyone. It gives individuals strong fundamental accounting and business principles that can be used within the workplace.
The certificate level is a qualification in its own right but also forms a formal entry route into the professional level qualification.
There are 4 exams to be completed at CIMA certificate level – BA1, BA2, BA3 and BA4.
Find out about each of the CIMA professional level syllabus areas, as well as each of the CIMA certificate level syllabus areas, using the information boxes below.
If you have any questions about the CIMA syllabus, please head to our discussion page where you will find our syllabus discussion board as well as our list of FAQs.
The CIMA syllabus in detail
Take a look at the syllabus in more detail, using the information boxes below. You’ll find an overview of the syllabus, as well as a breakdown of the subjects that are covered and the weightings that CIMA attaches to each of them.
CIMA E3 exam
“Formulate strategy and create conditions for successful implementation…”
CIMA E3 builds on the insights gained from E1 and E2 about how organisations effectively implement their strategies by aligning their structures, people, process, projects and relationships. E3 aims to develop the skills and abilities of the strategic leaders of organisations, enabling them to create the vision and direction for the growth and long-term sustainable success of the organisation. This involves successfully managing and leading change within the process of strategy formulation and implementation.
- 15% – The strategy process
- 20% – Analysing the organisational ecosystem
- 15% – Generating strategic options
- 20% – Strategic control
- 15% – Finance interacting with the organisation
- 15% – Digital strategy
CIMA P3 exam
“Analyse, evaluate and manage strategic, operational and cyber risks…”
CIMA P3 shows how to identify, evaluate and manage various risks that could adversely affect the implementation of the organisation’s strategy. It provides the competencies required to analyse, evaluate and apply the techniques, processes and internal control systems required to manage risk. It also contains a section raising your awareness to cyber risks. This insight is then used to manage risk associates with both cash flows and capital investment decisions – two important areas of organisational life for which the finance function is responsible.
- 25% – Enterprise risk
- 25% – Strategic risk
- 25% – Internal controls
- 25% – Cyber risks
CIMA F3 exam
“Create financial strategy, evaluate and manage financial risk and assess organisational value…”
CIMA F3 focuses on the formulation and implementation of financial strategy to support the overall strategy of the organisation. Using insights gained from F1 and F2, it provides the competencies to evaluate the financing requirements of organisations and the relative merits of alternative sources of finance to meet these requirements. Finally, it develops the competencies required to value investment opportunities including the valuation of corporate entities for mergers, acquisitions and divestments.
- 15% – Financial policy decisions
- 25% – Sources of long term funds
- 20% – Financial risks
- 40% – Business valuation
CIMA E2 exam
“Mechanisms to implement decisions and manage people performance…”
CIMA E2 emphasises a holistic, integrated approach to managing organisations, from external and internal perspectives. It builds on the understanding of organisational structuring gained from E1 and is centred on the concept of strategy and how organisational strategy can be implemented through people, projects, processes and relationships. It provides the basis for developing further insights into how to formulate and implement organisational strategy, which is covered in E3.
- 30% – Business models and value creation
- 40% – Managing people performance
- 30% – Managing projects
CIMA P2 exam
Advanced management accounting:
“Making medium-term decisions and managing costs and performance…”
Focusing primarily on the long term, CIMA P2 builds on the insights about costs and their drivers (from P1) to provide the competencies needed to analyse, plan and manage costs to support the implementation of the organisation’s strategy. It shows how to manage and control the performance of various units of the organisation in line with both short-term and long-term strategy. P2 covers investment decision making and the risks associated with such decisions. It provides the basis for developing deeper understanding of various types of risk affecting the strategy and operations of organisations (covered in P3).
- 20% – Managing the costs of creating value
- 35% – Capital investment decision making
- 30% – Managing performance of organisational units
- 15% – Risk and control
CIMA F2 exam
Advanced financial reporting:
“Analysing and communicating insights about the performance of the organisation…”
CIMA F2 builds on the competencies gained from F1. It covers how to effectively source the long-term finance required to fund the operations of organisations, particularly their capital investments. It also deepens the coverage of financial reporting to more complex aspects of group accounting and analyses the rules governing the recognition and measurement of various elements of the financial statements. Finally it shows how to analyse financial statements to provide insights about the financial performance and position of the organisation over time and in comparison with others.
- 15% – Financing capital projects
- 25% – Financial reporting standards
- 25% – Group accounts
- 10% – Integrated reporting
- 25% – Analysing financial statements
CIMA E1 exam
Managing finance in a digital world:
“How the finance function is organised…”
CIMA E1 focuses on the structuring of organisations in a digital world. It covers the structure and principles underpinning the operational functions of the organisation, their efficient management and effective interactions in enabling the organisation to achieve its strategic objectives. It lays the foundation for gaining further insight into both the immediate operating environment and long-term strategic future of organisations, which are covered in E2 and E3.
- 20% – Role of the finance function
- 20% – Technology in a digital world
- 20% – Data and information in a digital world
- 20% – Shape and structure of the finance function
- 20% – Finance interacting with the organisation
CIMA P1 exam
“What the finance function does…”
CIMA P1 stresses the importance of costs and the drivers of costs in the production, analysis and use of information for decision making in organisations. The time focus of P1 is the short term. It covers budgeting as a means of short-term planning to execute the strategy of organisations. In addition it provides competencies on how to analyse information on costs, volumes and prices to take short-term decisions on products and services and to develop an understanding on the impact of risk to these decisions. P1 provides the foundation for cost management and the long-term decisions covered in P2.
- 30% – Cost accounting for decision and control
- 25% – Budgeting and budgetary control
- 30% – Short-term commercial decision making
- 15% – Risk and uncertainty in the short term
CIMA F1 exam
“What the finance function does and its implications…”
CIMA F1 covers the regulation and preparation of financial statements and how the information contained in them can be used. It provides the competencies required to produce financial statements for both individual entities and groups using appropriate international financial reporting standards. It also gives insights into how to effectively source and manage cash and working capital, which are essential for both the survival and success of organisations. The competencies gained from F1 form the basis for developing further insights into producing and analysing complex group accounts (covered in F2) and formulating and implementing financial strategy (covered in F3).
- 10% – Regulatory environment of financial reporting
- 45% – Financial statements
- 20% – Principles of taxation
- 25% – Managing cash and working capital
CIMA BA1 exam
Fundamentals of business economics
BA1 focuses on the economic and operating context of business and how the factors of competition, the behaviour of financial markets and government economic policy can influence an organisation. It also deals with the information available to assist management in evaluating and forecasting the behaviour of consumers, markets and the economy in general
Students will gain an understanding of the areas of economic activity relevant to an organisation’s decisions and, within this context, the numerical techniques to support such decisions.
- 25% = Macroeconomic and institutional context of business
- 30% = Macroeconomic and organisational context of business
- 20% = Informational context of business
- 25% = Financial context of business
CIMA BA2 exam
Fundamentals of management accounting
BA2 teaches students fundamental knowledge and techniques that underpin management accounting. It identifies the position of the management accountant within organisations and the role of CIMA. The subject portrays the role of management accounting in the contexts of commercial and public sector bodies and its wider role in society.
- 10% = The context of management accounting
- 25% = Costing
- 30% = Planning and control
- 35% = Decision making
CIMA BA3 exam
Fundamentals of financial accounting
In BA3 students will obtain a practical understanding of financial accounting and the process behind the preparation of financial statements for single entities.
These statements are prepared within a conceptual and regulatory framework requiring an understanding of the role of legislation and of accounting standards. The need to understand and apply necessary controls for accounting systems, and the nature of errors is also covered. There is an introduction to measuring financial performance with the calculation of basic ratios.
- 10% = Accounting principles, concepts and regulations
- 50% = Recording accounting transactions
- 30% = Preparation of accounts for single entities
- 10% = Analysis of financial statements
CIMA BA4 exam
Fundamentals of ethics, corporate governance and business law
In BA4 students will gain an understanding of the professional standards to be demonstrated for the benefit of all stakeholders. With this in mind, the place of ethics and ethical conflict is an essential underpinning for commercial activity. It includes the role of corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and audit; and their increasing impact in the management of organisations.
Wherever business is conducted the legal and administrative framework underpins commercial activity. With this in mind the areas of contract law, employment law, administration and management of companies is considered.
- 30% = Business ethics and ethical conflict
- 45% = Corporate governance, controls and corporate social responsibility
- 15% = General principles of the legal system, contracts and employment law
- 10% = Company administration
Find out more about the CIMA exams: