CIMA (Eng)

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is a United Kingdom-based professional body offering training and qualification in management accountancy and related subjects, focused on accounting for business; together with ongoing support for members.

CIMA is one of a number of professional associations for accountants in Ireland and the UK. Its particular emphasis is on developing the management accounting profession within the UK and worldwide. CIMA is the largest management accounting body in the world, with more than 203,000 members and students in 173 countries. CIMA is also a member of the International Federation of Accountants.


CIMA was founded in 1919 as "The Institute of Cost and Works Accountants" (ICWA). It specialised in the development of accounting techniques for use in the internal control of manufacturing, service and public sector operations. It developed a position as the leading professional body in the areas of product costing, budgeting, management accounting, investment appraisal and business decision making.

The institute changed its name from ICWA to the "Institute of Cost and Management Accountants" (ICMA) in 1972 and subsequently to the "Chartered Institute of Management Accountants" (CIMA) in 1986, after it was granted a Royal Charter, a globally recognised accounting qualification, based in the UK and particularly honored in Commonwealth countries. Its membership has grown from 15,000 in 1970 to 79,757 members and 92,909 students in 2009. It has played a role in founding fraternal professional bodies such as the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan, the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh, the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India and the Institute of Management Accountants (USA).

How is the qualification syllabus structured?

The course encourages a step by step development of finance and business knowledge. You will learn the skills required by today’s businesses. It has three pillars and four levels.


As a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), you won’t be just a number cruncher, you will manage the future of a business. 

The three pillars represent specific areas of knowledge (see graphic below). The content of each pillar develops as you move up the qualification. The pillars are interlinked to provide a consistent body of knowledge. They are designed to cover a range of useful business areas in addition to finance:

  • Enterprise: how to formulate and effectively implement strategy
  • Performance: how finance helps in formulating and effectively implementing strategy 
  • Financial: how to prepare and interpret financial statements to make decisions. 


The syllabus is also divided into three levels of achievement. You will progress from the Operational Level, to the Management Level and finally, to Strategic Level.

The Levels encourage a linear development of knowledge. This ensures you learn the relevant skills needed by today’s businesses.

  • Operational how to prepare financial statements, provide management accounting information, and use appropriate tools for decision making through a broad understanding of business. After successfully completing this level, you will receive the CIMA Diploma in Management Accounting.
  • Management: how to prepare group accounts, make pricing and product decisions based on a robust analysis, and manage projects and relationships. On completion, you receive the CIMA Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting.
  • Strategic: how to formulate financial strategy and manage strategic relationships while managing risk, using the competencies gained at operational and management levels

T4 - test of professional competence

The Test of professional competence comprises two component parts that must both be achieved in order to complete the test. 

Part A - initial professional development – work-based practical experience
Students prepare and submit a ‘CIMA career profile’ for assessment of their personal work-based practical experience and skills development. 

Part B - case study examination
An assessment of competence, completed within a supervised examination environment.

Parts A and B of this test bridges the gap between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’. On completion, you become a Chartered Global Management Accountant with the designatory letters ACMA and CGMA.

Download our full syllabus

How can I study?

You can study either full or part time. There are different ways to study depending on what works best for you, including:

2015 syllabus

We have introduced an updated syllabus and assessment method for the professional qualification which will take effect from January 2015, which includes a move away from paper-based assessments. 

Find out more about the 2015 syllabus.

Practice exams

Our practice exams enable you to get hands-on experience of the new computer-based assessment.