AAT Foundation Diploma in Accounting and Business

What it covers

This Level 2 qualification (Level 5 in Scotland) prepares 16–19-year-olds for junior and entry-level accounting roles. It delivers a solid foundation in finance administration, covering areas such as double entry bookkeeping and basic costing principles, alongside complementary business communications and personal skills.

Syllabus

Bookkeeping Transactions

This unit introduces students to the double-entry bookkeeping system and the associated documents and processes. Students will reach the stage of extracting an initial trial balance, before any adjustments are made. It provides students with the skills necessary to operate a manual double-entry bookkeeping system and provides a strong foundation for progression to more advanced manual and computerised activities.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand financial transactions within a bookkeeping system.
  • Process customer transactions.
  • Process supplier transactions.
  • Process receipts and payments.
  • Process transactions through the ledgers to the trial balance.

Bookkeeping Controls

This unit is about control accounts, journals and methods of payment. It takes students through reconciliation processes and the use of the journal to the stage of redrafting the trial balance, following initial adjustments.

It covers more complex Foundation level bookkeeping procedures, which will enable students to develop their understanding of the relationship between the various accounting records and consolidate their knowledge of double-entry bookkeeping. Students will gain the confidence they need to perform well in the workplace and the unit will prepare them for greater responsibility.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand payment methods.
  • Understand controls in a bookkeeping system.
  • Use control accounts.
  • Use the journal.
  • Reconcile a bank statement with the cash book.

Elements of Costing

The purpose of this unit is to give students a basic introduction to costing, while building a sound foundation in the knowledge and skills they need for more complex costing and management accounting units such as Advanced level Management Accounting: Costing and, later, Professional level Management Accounting: Budgeting.

Students will understand the importance of the costing system as a source of information for internal management decision making. In contrast to the more outward perspective of financial accounting, the skills developed in this unit will allow students to provide information to managers that can be used to assist in internal business planning, decision making and control.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the cost recording system within an organisation.
  • Use cost recording techniques.
  • Provide information on actual and budgeted costs and income.

Using Accounting Software

This unit provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to carry out typical bookkeeping transactions and tasks using accounting software. It teaches the practical steps for processing accounting information electronically and will allow students to reinforce their understanding of the sequence in which bookkeeping tasks are carried out.

Learning outcomes

  • Set up accounting software.
  • Process sales and purchases transactions.
  • Process bank and cash transactions.
  • Perform period end routine tasks.
  • Produce reports.

Work Effectively in Finance

This unit will help students to develop the professional skills and behaviours needed in the workplace. While this unit is set in the context of the finance function, these skills are transferable to many other working environments.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the finance function within an organisation.
  • Use personal skills development in finance.
  • Produce work effectively.
  • Understand corporate social responsibility (CSR), ethics and sustainability within organisations.

Business Communications and Personal Skills

This unit is about the various forms of communication used in the business environment. It also covers the personal skills essential for working in a business environment. It provides a framework for the development of a range of transferrable skills and aims to promote a good standard of literacy and courtesy, which are essential skills for working in a business environment.

Learning outcomes

  • Communicate in a business environment.
  • Use personal skills in a business environment.
  • Use effective communication and personal skills in different situations in a business environment.

Developing Lifelong Learning Skills

This unit enables students to become more aware of their own learning and to develop skills that will assist them in a variety of contexts. They will develop knowledge and understanding of "learning to learn" while developing the practical skills to support lifelong learning. These skills will allow students to progress and to achieve goals in both academic and vocational learning, and will assist them in both work and study in the future.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand how to use different learning methods in different situations.
  • Plan own learning.
  • Use information appropriately to meet own learning needs.
  • Evaluate learning to improve own performance.

Introduction to Business and Company Law

This unit introduces students to some of the main areas of business and company law that are relevant to the work of accountants. Its purpose is to introduce some key aspects of commercial law and to show students how the law affects the role of the professional accountant on a daily basis. It also provides students with practical knowledge about the law that they may find useful in their personal lives as well as at work.

Learning outcomes

  • Identify key elements of the English legal system.
  • Understand principles of contract law.
  • Identify key employment law issues.
  • Recognise the consequences of setting up a limited company.

Introduction to Payroll

This unit offers a broad introduction to payroll and reflects how a simple payroll process might work within an organisation. It introduces core payroll principles, calculation of gross pay and net pay, and some post-payroll activities.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand core payroll principles.
  • Understand payroll procedures for changes to employee data.
  • Calculate gross and net pay.
  • Carry out basic post-payroll activities.

Get started now

Find a local training provider to deliver your course and once you've registered with them, you're ready to register with us.

How long it takes

This qualification usually takes around one year to complete.

Read the AAT course prospectus
Read the AAT course prospectus

Find out more about where AAT qualifications can take you.

Read the qualification specification
Read the qualification specification

Download this PDF for a detailed view of the qualification and the individual unit learning objectives.

How and where to study

You can study through distance learning online, blended learning, or in the classroom. Do it in the evening, part-time or full-time, whatever suits you. You'll need to find a training provider, even if you're choosing distance learning.

Fees

Training provider fees

£600–£2,000

This fee covers your tuition (if attending a course of study) and is paid directly to your training provider.

Standard qualification fee

The standard qualification fee comprises:

  • a registration fee of £155
  • seven assessment fees of £49 each
  • one synoptic assessment fee of £52.

This gives a total of £550.

Your registration fee is paid directly to AAT and will give you access to:

  • the qualification and the assessment for 12 months
  • study support resources for the duration of your registration.

You will be required to pay the assessment fee to your training provider or assessment venue.

Note: training providers and assessment venues may charge an additional administrative fee for the assessment. The administrative fee, if charged, can vary from one organisation to another.

Check what funding options are available
Check what funding options are available

You may be eligible for support from your employer or other bodies.

Download all AAT fees
Download all AAT fees

Here's a list of all qualification-related fees in PDF.

Quick facts

  • Level:
    • Level 2 (Level 5 Scotland)
    • GCSE (grades A*–C)
    • Key Stage 5 Technical Certificate
  • Duration: 9–12 months
  • Number of assessments: 8 (learn how AAT assessments work)
  • Total credits (applies in Scotland): 34
  • Guided learning hours: 240
  • Total qualification time (hours): 460

Entry requirements

Students can start with any qualification depending on existing skills and experience. For the best chance of success we recommend that students begin their studies with a good standard of English and maths.

Already got some accounting experience? Test your knowledge with AAT Skillcheck to find out the best qualification to start with.

Exemptions

Those who can provide evidence of gaining a previous, relevant qualification from an external awarding body may not have to sit all AAT assessments.

We believe that if you've already studied qualification units featuring the same content, you shouldn't need to duplicate work. This means students can fast track onto the most appropriate AAT qualification.

Students may be eligible for exemptions if they have:

  • previous finance or accounting qualifications
  • an accounting or finance degree.
I've loved learning a new, very tangible, skill. I also feel like what I'm learning is genuinely useful and something that I can apply to many different industries and settings. When I started working for Balfour Beatty I could instantly put my learning to use and applying it in the workplace has been really helpful.
Verity Bartesch, AAT student, Assistant Accountant, Balfour Beatty

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