There is a growing recognition that in addition to a common body of knowledge all managers need in order to succeed, there are critical specialist areas for managers which provide a sound understanding of all aspects of their work and a springboard for further career progression.

This is an advanced course aimed at experienced finance managers working in an organisation's finance department or those who act as financial advisors to charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Introduction by Professor Paul Palmer

This Charity degree course aims to equip students with a knowledge of:

  • Specialist charity taxation and unique tax privileges
  • The distinctive financial accounting practice and management.

Students should be highly motivated managers and will normally have a good first degree, a related professional qualification or at least three years wholly relevant experience.

Course structure and content

Postgraduate Diploma

The Postgraduate Diploma is offered on a part time basis and is taught over a period of 12 months. The Diploma consists of five core modules, common to all Centre for Charity Effectiveness postgraduate courses. These modules provide the essential underpinning of management skills. You also study three specialist pathway modules.

All courses are taught at Cass Business School and will require attendance one weekend a month commencing on the Friday afternoon at 13:00 to 21:00 and finishing on Saturday at 18:00.

Additional times of attendance will be required:

  • On the Induction Day
  • For Action Learning Set meetings (usually alternate months on the Friday morning of the teaching weekend)
  • The Resource Management module exam

Term dates

October 2015 intake


09 October 2015

Learning and Understanding the Voluntary Sector

09 - 10 October 2015

Strategy, Diversity and Governance

06 - 07 November 2015
11 - 12 December 2015

Marketing & Fundraising

15 - 16 January 2016

Resource Management

12 - 13 February 2016
11 - 12 March 2016
08 - 09 April 2016

Exam*  06 May 2016

Advanced Charity Accounting, Audit and Taxation

20 - 21 May 2016
17 June 2016

Exam*  08 July 2016

Voluntary Sector Financial Management

18 June 2016
15 - 16 July 2016

Fieldwork exercise

process to be completed by early August 2016

Course Review Day

16 September 2016

April 2015 intake - exemption route

Induction/Learning and Understanding the Voluntary Sector

17 - 18 April 2015

Advanced Charity Accounting, Audit and Taxation

15 - 16 May 2015
26 June 2015

Exam* Thursday 16 July 2015

Voluntary Sector Financial Management 27 June 2015
24 - 25 July 2015

Fieldwork Exercise

process to be completed by early August 2015

Course Review Day

05 September 2015

Strategy, Diversity and Governance

06 - 07 November 2015
11 - 12 December 2015

Marketing & Fundraising

15 - 16 January 2016

(This route is open for applicants with an ACA or FCA qualification from the ICAEW only)

*All other modules are assessed by coursework.

Module outlines

Learning and Understanding the Voluntary Sector

This module aims to enables the student to:

  • Map out your learning and development needs for the forthcoming three years
  • Set these needs within the context of the Masters (or Diploma) Programme
  • Learn new learning and study skills
  • Develop skills to research a field of study selecting relevant information whilst omitting irrelevant discourse
  • Develop skills to analyse and synthesise complex information within a coherent framework
  • Understand and grasp the skill of working in an Action Learning Set
  • The Theory of Learning
  • Assessing your learning style
  • Learning and polishing study skills
  • Making use of all the available tools
  • Drawing up a Learning Contract
  • Writing a masters level assignment utilising relevant research techniques.

Resource Management

This module aims to enables the student to:
  • Provide students with an understanding of the principles of resource management within the specialist context of charities
  • Definitions and the legal framework of charities and voluntary organisations
  • The role of the Charity Commission
  • Sources of finance for the charity sector
  • Introduction to general accounting principles
  • Charity accounts and regulatory framework
  • Understanding, interpreting and analysing charity accounting statements
  • Costing and budgeting in voluntary organisations
  • Risk assessment
  • Outsourcing
  • Appraising, appointing and dismissing auditors and other resource consultants and experts
  • IT Strategic appraisal and implementation
  • The nature of Human Resource Management
  • Human resource and personnel issues including training and development, reward and retention and effective selection and recruitment

Marketing and Fundraising

This module aims to enables the student to:

  • To provide students with the concepts, underpinning knowledge, skills and techniques to plan and develop marketing and operations systems
  • Enable students to analyse marketing needs, evaluate marketing plans, in the context of applying marketing concepts to their own organisation
  • Effective Marketing Information Systems
  • Development of a marketing strategy
  • Product/Service policy and new product development
  • Role of communications
  • Branding
  • Pricing as a value-added marketing tool
  • Capacity planning - resources planning and allocation
  • Total Quality Management
  • Stakeholder/Customer care

Strategy, Diversity and Governance

This module aims to enables the student to:

  • To develop a broad knowledge and conceptual base in the field of strategy development, diversity and governance
  • Introduce practical tools to help improve the quality of an organisation's strategic response to the changing environment
  • Introduce practical tools to help improve the ability of the organisation and its managers and leaders to build a diverse workforce
  • Enhance appreciation of the constraints and opportunities offered by the changing governance and service-delivery frameworks which affect voluntary organisations
  • Improving an organisation's strategic response by use of strategy and diversity management and theory
  • Approaches to developing strategy
  • Approaches to managing diversity
  • The changing environment of the voluntary sector
  • Case studies on the application of strategic planning and diversity

Fieldwork Exercise

This module aims to enables the student to:
  • Develop a different perspective on the role and environment at senior management level in a different organisation
  • Consider the ethical and environmental issues faced by a senior manager
  • Look at optional and compulsory roles when overseeing an organisation
  • Provide an opportunity to study at close hand the way change is managed in another organisation
  • Provide the opportunity to apply theory in practice
  • Design of Shadowing/Fieldwork Exercise proposal linked to Learning Contract and negotiation with senior manager of shadowed organisation
  • Five days shadowing senior manager or fieldwork consultancy exercise - observing and learning from the experience
  • Reflections using all the theories and models learnt on the programme
  • Preparation of reflective report containing analysis and recommendations for improved effectiveness

Advanced Charity Accounting, Audit and Taxation

This module aims to enables the student to:

  • Provide students with advanced knowledge of charity accounting, audit and taxation principles and practice requirements
  • The SORP and regulatory framework
  • Statement of Financial Activities
  • Branch accounting consolidation, mergers and associates
  • Disclosure of accounting policies
  • Accounting for smaller charities
  • Audit/independent examination of charity accounting statements
  • Main tax exemptions
  • Tax effective giving
  • Charity trading
  • VAT

Voluntary Sector Financial Management

This module aims to enables the student to:

  • Provide you with an in-depth grounding of the principles of financial management applied to the charity sector
  • Strategic Financial Management and the role of the Finance Director
  • Managing, including outsourcing the finance function
  • Social accounting, audit and ethical investment
  • Internal audit and control
  • Reporting to trustees and stakeholders
  • Working with, appointing, reviewing and dismissing financial advisors and services
  • International Financial Issues
  • Banking and Insurance
  • Investment planning and decision makingThe module links the technical knowledge in Charity Accounting through the fieldwork exercise in delivering the management component of the module

MSc conversion

Upon successful completion of the diploma, you will be given the option to continue to the MSc. This requires completion of the Research Methods for Managers module.

This can be followed by a further six months of personal, supervised research and the presentation of a 15,000-word dissertation.

Alternatively, you can opt to take a taught Masters which allows you to choose specialist modules from one of the other Charities programmes.

Term dates

Research Methods for Managers

January 2016 (for April 2015 Intake) 

January 2017 (for October 2015 Intake)

Dissertation or Taught Masters Option

completion by the end of September 2016 (for April 2015 Intake)

completion by the end of September 2017 (for October 2015 Intake)

Our course professionals

The Course Director is Professor Paul Palmer, who is also the academic leader on the Charity Accounting and Financial Management course. The course team draws upon staff in the Centre for Charity Effectiveness like Caroline Copeman, and the wider Business School including Professor Jenny Harrow, Peter Grant (Grantmaking, Philanthrophy and Social Investment academic leader), Professor Stephen Lee (Marketing and Fundraising academic leader), Professor John Hailey (NGO Management academic leader and Atul Patel (Voluntary Sector Management academic leader).

The internal course team is supported by leading sector practitioners, for example Geraldine Peacock, Stuart Etherington and Stephen Bubb together with professional firms, all of whom bring their skills to each of the courses.


Students for all five courses in the Charities Masters Programme will be highly motivated individuals who bring with them a wide range of professional competence, skills and experience from a wide range of charitable and not-for-profit organisations. Gender is evenly balanced across all the courses and there are no age barriers.

Students will normally have a good first degree, a related professional qualification or at least three years, wholly relevant experience. If you have more than three years relevant experience, two professional references are acceptable.

Course fees and expenses

Course fees

The course fees for all five courses are payable at the start of the academic year. The fee for the Postgraduate Diploma is £5,850. A deposit of £400 is payable on acceptance of a place. For self-paying students, the balance is payable in two instalments, the first during the registration process September and the second at the end of January. For those converting the Diploma to MSc a further £3,150 is payable in one instalment at the beginning of the second year.

Students who are sponsored by their employer will need to complete a sponsorship form as part of the application process. An invoice for the full fees will be sent to the employer in October. If the employer is a charity, they can request payment in two instalments by contacting the person named on the invoice. This arrangement allows the charity to spread the fees across two financial years.

Salary Sacrifice Scheme

Please note that self-funded students are able to gain substantial savings on the cost of course fees if they participate in a 'Salary Sacrifice Scheme' with their employer. Students who set up a salary sacrifice scheme with their employer will also need to submit a sponsorship form as part of their application process.

Cass Business School cannot legally provide individual advice on how to benefit from this government scheme. For more information, see below.

Find out more about the Salary Sacrifice Scheme [pdf]

Course expenses

The weekend modules will incur additional accommodation and subsistence expenses for those participants living outside London.

Application deadline

There is no application deadline for this course. However, we advise you to apply well in advance, as competition for places is high and applications are considered on a continuous basis.