AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting

What it covers

The Professional Diploma in Accounting covers drafting financial statements, managing budgets and evaluating financial performance, as well as optional specialist units including business tax, personal tax, external auditing, credit management, and cash and treasury management.

It covers higher accounting tasks and can lead to a range of more senior finance roles.

Syllabus

Management Accounting: Budgeting

This unit is about the use of budgeting for planning, coordinating and authorising the activities of an organisation and for controlling costs. It provides skills and knowledge to improve the performance of an organisation by setting targets, constructing achievable plans and monitoring results.

Students will develop a range of skills within the context of planning and control. These include management accounting, statistical analysis, written communication and variance analysis. The application of standard costing and its links to budgeting is also included, although the topic is covered in detail in the Management Accounting: Decision and Control unit.

Learning outcomes

  • Prepare forecasts of income and expenditure.
  • Prepare budgets.
  • Demonstrate how budgeting can improve organisational performance.
  • Report budgetary information to management in a clear and appropriate format.

Management Accounting: Decision and Control

This unit is one of the mandatory Professional level units. It takes students from Advanced level costing principles and prepares them to be valuable members of a management accounting finance team.

Learning outcomes

  • Analyse a range of costing techniques to support the management accounting function of an organisation.
  • Calculate and use standard costing to improve performance.
  • Demonstrate a range of statistical techniques to analyse business information.
  • Use appropriate financial and non-financial performance techniques to aid decision making.
  • Evaluate a range of cost management techniques to enhance value and aid decision making.

Financial Statements of Limited Companies

This unit is concerned with the drafting, analysis and interpretation of financial statements of limited companies. This builds on the Foundation and Advanced levels, where the emphasis of the financial accounting units is on identifying and recording transactions in accounts and ledgers following the principles of double-entry bookkeeping, and drafting the financial statements of unincorporated organisations from the accounts and records prepared.

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the reporting frameworks and ethical principles that underpin financial reporting.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the key features of a published set of financial statements.
  • Draft statutory financial statements for a limited company.
  • Draft consolidated financial statements.
  • Interpret financial statements using ratio analysis.

Accounting Systems and Controls

This unit aims to enable students to demonstrate their understanding of the role of the accounting function in an organisation and the importance of internal controls in minimising the risk of loss. Students will undertake an evaluation of an accounting system to identify weaknesses and assess the impact of those weaknesses on the operation of the organisation.

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role and responsibilities of the accounting function within an organisation.
  • Evaluate internal control systems.
  • Evaluate an organisation’s accounting system and underpinning procedures.
  • Analyse recommendations made to improve an organisation’s accounting system.

Business Tax (optional unit)

This unit introduces the student to UK taxation relevant to businesses. It is about the computing of business taxation, preparation of tax returns and how taxation has an impact on the running of a business for sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.

Learning outcomes

  • Complete tax returns for sole traders and partnerships and prepare supporting tax computations.
  • Complete tax returns for limited companies and prepare supporting tax computations.
  • Provide advice on the UK’s tax regime and its impact on sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.
  • Advise business clients on tax reliefs, and their responsibilities and their agent’s responsibilities in reporting taxation to HMRC.
  • Prepare tax computations for the sale of capital assets.

Personal Tax (optional unit)

This unit is about the key aspects of taxation that affect UK taxpayers. It covers income tax, National Insurance, Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax.

Learning outcomes

  • Analyse the theories, principles and rules that underpin taxation systems.
  • Calculate a UK taxpayer’s total income.
  • Calculate income tax and National Insurance contributions payable by a UK taxpayer.
  • Account for Capital Gains Tax.
  • Discuss the basics of Inheritance Tax.

External Auditing (optional unit)

This unit is about external audits of financial statements. These audits are undertaken in accordance with International Standards on Auditing (ISA) to provide assurance to the intended users regarding the credibility of the information contained within financial statements.

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of auditing.
  • Demonstrate the importance of professional ethics.
  • Evaluate the audited entity's system of internal control.
  • Evaluate audit procedures for obtaining audit evidence.
  • Evaluate the planning process.
  • Evaluate audit procedures.

Cash and Treasury Management (optional unit)

This unit covers the skills and knowledge that students need in order to be able to identify the movements of cash within the business and make informed decisions on the best course of action to maximise the wealth of the business.

Learning outcomes

  • Use statistical techniques and financial information to prepare forecasts of cash receipts and payments.
  • Prepare cash budgets and monitor cash flows within the organisation.
  • Evaluate the principles of cash management within the context of regulation and government monetary policies.
  • Evaluate ways of raising finance in accordance with organisational requirements.
  • Evaluate ways of investing surplus funds within organisational policies.

Credit Management (optional unit)

This unit is about understanding and applying the principles of effective credit control in an organisation. Students will require an understanding of the principles of credit control in the context of relevant legislation, contract law, best practice, professional ethics and organisational policies. Students will also be able to describe remedies for breach of contract, as well as the terms and conditions of contracts with customers.

Learning outcomes

  • Analyse relevant legislation and contract law that has an impact on the credit control environment.
  • Critically analyse information from a variety of sources to assess credit risk and grant credit in compliance with organisational policies and procedures.
  • Evaluate a range of techniques to collect debts.
  • Critically evaluate credit control in line with organisational policies and procedures.
  • Present advice and recommendations to management on the credit control system.

Professional Diploma Synoptic Assessment

This asks students to apply knowledge and skills gained across the qualification in an integrated way, within a workplace context. Scenarios change over time to ensure validity.

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How long it takes

The qualification usually takes around 18 months to complete, but this will depend on study method and course timetable. It may be possible to complete it in nine months.

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.

Achieve AAT full membership

If you successfully complete this qualification you can apply for AAT full membership (MAAT).

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–£2000

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 eight assessment fees at £47 per assessment, plus one synoptic assessment fee at £54, giving a total of £430.

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

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

AAT membership fees

You need to register for AAT student membership in order to study this qualification, sit assessments and access study support resources to help you succeed. Read about the benefits of student membership.

  • £150 for UK students
  • £140 for international students

These are paid to AAT. The fees cover:

  • AAT admission fee
  • AAT annual membership fee.
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 4 (Level 8 Scotland)
    • Foundation degree
    • Higher apprenticeship (Technical – Scotland)
    • High education diploma
    • HND and HNC
    • NVQ 4/5
  • Duration: 12–18 months
  • Number of assessments: 6 (learn how AAT assessments work)
  • Total credits (applies in Scotland): 56
  • Guided learning hours: 420
  • Total qualification time (hours): 560

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.

Exemptions from ACCA, CIMA, ICAEW and others

Having passed this qualification, students will be eligible for exemptions from certain papers on ACCA, CIMA, ICAEW and other professional qualifications.

Being a professional member demonstrates to myself an achievement and demonstrates to others my competence and professionalism. My AAT qualification gave me a good foundation of knowledge to do the job and the recognition has opened doors for me.
Guy Dakin MAAT AATQB, Senior Management Accountant, Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

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