SQA Advanced Certificate/Diploma Accounting

The SQA Advanced Certificate and SQA Advanced Diploma in Accounting cover the competences that employers require when recruiting accounting staff. In addition, these qualifications enable learners to progress to further academic and professional qualifications, either prior to taking up an accounting position or in parallel with it.

The SQA Advanced Certificate in Accounting (SCQF 7) includes recording financial information, preparing financial statements, using financial accounting software, cost accounting, and management accounting using information technology.

In addition to the above, the SQA Advanced Diploma in Accounting (SCQF 8) includes financial reporting and analysis, accounting for specialised transactions, management accounting for planning and control, management accounting for decision making, and business taxation.

These qualifications are available through a growing number of colleges and universities around the world. Typically, an SQA Advanced Certificate takes one year to complete and an SQA Advanced Diploma takes two years.

Alternative assessment guidance 2023-24

This subject will not have alternative assessment guidance for session 2023-24. You should refer to the Group Award/Unit specifications for detailed delivery and assessment information. For general support on delivery and assessment see the HNVQ assessment guidance 2023-24.

Why deliver this qualification

SQA Advanced Certificates and SQA Advanced Diplomas have been developed by SQA in partnership with colleges, universities and industry - so employers recognise that they provide sound evidence of ability.

The unit-based structure supports flexible delivery. A unit is typically 40 hours of timetabled learning.

The SQA Advanced Certificate and SQA Advanced Diploma are based on standard accounting practice. They have up-to-date relevance and appeal for those seeking employment in the accounting sector.

The qualifications can be delivered flexibly to meet the needs of learners - eg through open or distance learning (as long as there is access to the appropriate software).

Who does this qualification suit

The SQA Advanced Certificate in Accounting and the SQA Advanced Diploma in Accounting are designed for people who wish to take up a career in accounting and/or financial administration, or who wish progress to further study. They are suitable for employees and for those who are not yet employed in the sector.


Access will be at the discretion of the centre. Examples of appropriate formal entry qualifications are:

  • any two relevant National Courses at Higher together with three supporting passes at National 5
  • an SVQ 2 in Accounting or other relevant area
  • different combinations of relevant National Qualifications, vocational qualifications and equivalent qualifications from other awarding bodies may also be acceptable, as would suitable vendor qualifications at an appropriate level

Candidates should have some prior knowledge of numeracy and communication, although formal qualifications may not be necessary if suitable experience had been gained informally or through work experience.

Mature candidates with suitable work experience may be accepted for entry provided the enrolling centre believes that they are likely to benefit from undertaking the award.


The SQA Advanced Certificate in Accounting is aimed at those employed, or wishing to become employed, in roles such as accounts assistant, trainee accountant and financial administrator.

The SQA Advanced Diploma in Accounting can provide advanced entry to degree-level study. For further information please refer to the SQA university agreements.

With relevant options, the courses provide exemptions from examination papers for some professional accounting bodies, including the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

Offer this qualification

Centres with devolved authority for approval should use their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority require to come forward for approval and should contact SQA's Business Development Team for guidance.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA's general requirements for technical/occupational competence as outlined in the Systems and Qualification Approval Guide.

How to assess

Each unit specification gives detailed information on the evidence requirements and approaches to assessment for the unit.

Ongoing course assessment will apply. 

Qualification structure

SQA Advanced Certificate in Accounting

Group award code: GM96 47 (96 SCQF credit points)

The SQA Advanced Certificate in Accounting at SCQF level 7 consists of nine mandatory units and three optional units.

SQA Advanced Diploma in Accounting

Group award code: GM8G 48 (240 SCQF credit points)

The SQA Advanced Diploma in Accounting at SCQF level 8 consists of 19 mandatory units and 11 optional units.


For further information on the structure and units for this course please refer to the arrangements document - GM9647 GM8G48 (826 KB).

Unit Specifications

Support materials

Qualification Verification Summary Reports