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CIMA - Diploma in Management Accounting - Operational Level - Operational Case Study Unit

Course Information

  • Course Code: EC353D
  • Duration: 4 weeks x 3 hours
  • Price: £250.00
  • Times: 18:00-21:00
  • Delivery Type: PT

Start Dates

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About CIMA

CIMA is the world’s leading, and largest, professional body of management accountants.  Their unique blend of management accounting, financial accounting and business-focused subjects produces competent and confident CGMAs who can lead their organisations to sustainable success.  CIMA ensures that you’re studying the most relevant qualification for a career in finance and business and they are with you every step of the way as you work towards gaining the globally recognised CGMA designation.

The Professional Qualifications focus on employability – bridging the skills gaps of newly qualified finance professionals worldwide, meeting the needs of both business and people.  The syllabus is truly competency based, enabling you to develop the skills employers are really looking for, including technical, finance and business skills as well as people and leadership skills. Our industry leading assessments test your application of knowledge in real world business situations.

Passing your CIMA exams is a demonstration to employers that you not only have the knowledge, but also the competencies and skills of a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).


Why come to Blackburn College?

  • Teacher trained and sector specific qualified tutors
  • Purpose built facilities
  • Small class sizes
  • Renowned for providing an excellent student experience with an emphasis on pastoral care throughout
  • Excellent library facilities


Why this level?

The Operational Level is the first level of the Professional Qualification suite and consists of three computer based Objective Tests and one Case Study exam.  The Operational level covers the implementation of strategy, as well as reporting on the implementation of strategy.  Its focus is short-term.

What will I study?

Operational level is the first level of the CIMA Professional Qualification and consists of three subject areas and a Case Study.


Students will learn how to:

  • Prepare financial statements
  • Provide management accounting information
  • Use appropriate tools for decision making through a broad understanding of business


Operational Case Study

The focus of Operational level is on the short term.  In the Operational Case Study exam, your role will be that of a Finance Officer.  The Case Study exam is essentially a virtual business role play. Therefore, students need to understand their role within the case study exam in order to produce a good answer, demonstrating knowledge and applying skills from across the syllabus.  

The table below provides an overview of the role students are expected to take on at Operational Study exam, who they will be seeking to influence and examples of the syllabus area they may be tested upon.


Who are you?

At Operational level, your role will be that of a Finance Officer.

Equivalent job titles in a real organisation might be:

  • Junior/Trainee accountant
  • Credit Controller
  • Assistant accountant
  • Cost accountant

What is the main focus of your role?

Overall focus
Short term


You may be involved in

  • Costing
  • Preparing budgets
  • Advising on product mix or performance
  • Variance analysis
  • Working capital or cash management
  • Producing reports of performance against budget
  • Risk assessment in short term decision making.


You will need to understand

  • The role of finance within the wider organisation
  • Who the stakeholders are
  • The regulatory environment
  • How to communicate with non-financial staff

Who is your audience/who are you seeking to influence?

Your manager (Finance Manager/Finance Director), peers within the finance department and possibly in other departments; you may need to gather information from or present budget information to non-financial colleagues.

Examples of topic areas and tasks you may be asked to look at in the exam (based on Variant 1 of the Nov 2015 Management Case Study exam)

Your role

You are a newly appointed Finance Officer in a family run horticulture company. Your predecessor has begun to set up some budgets and costings but the finance and administrative processes in the company are unsophisticated and there is little automation.


The emphasis in the Operational Case Study exam is the Performance pillar and Technical skills but all subjects will be tested. During the exam you will need to demonstrate:


Technical skills
Planning and monitoring cash flows and the use of rolling budgets (F1 C3 and P1 B4)
Interpreting variances (P1 A1)
Treatment of R&D costs in financial statements (F1 B2) 


Business skills
Show understanding of how the finance function benefits the business (E1 B2)


People skills
Explain why collaborative supply chains are useful to the business (E1 D1)


Leadership skills
Leadership skills only account for 6% at this level and no one will fail due to a lack of leadership skills in the OCS. However they are tested eg in the variance analysis task above, discussing how planning and operational variances benefit the business would have attracted leadership marks.

Competency weightings for your exam

Competency Weighting is the basis of distribution of marks from various sections in the exam. You will have to obtain minimum threshold marks (approximately 1/3) for each competency (except for Leadership skills) along with a scaled score of 80 to pass the exam.

Technical skills - 64%
Business skills - 16%
People skills - 14%
Leadership skills - 6%

NOTE: These are just illustrations to help you set the Case Study exam in context and are not exhaustive.


We’re including the following, free of charge:

  • All study texts
  • Revision cards
  • Exam kits                                                            
    • (worth over £250)


  • Career Advice & Guidance
    • In order to help students progress in their chosen finance career, we have enlisted the skills of Rachel Mitson, an experienced professional offering specialised industry knowledge from working with a variety of business’ across the North West.   Rachel will use her extensive experience of the accounting and finance industries to offer advice and guidance to all candidates on our CIMA programme.
    • She will actively support students with resourceful information, advice and techniques gathered during her 15 years’ experience in the recruitment industry in order to best develop their career. 
    • Rachel has an excellent working knowledge of all the relevant finance qualifications and is well placed to advise students on their future development within their chosen role.


Entry Requirements

To attend this course, you must have one of the following qualifications:

  • CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting
  • Degree in business or accounting
  • AAT Technician/Diploma level - level 4


Evidence of previous qualification must be provided with your application for you to be accepted onto the course.


As regards working experience, CIMA do not have requirements by year of study, but once studying you will need to gain as many of the criteria as possible stated at the link below, throughout your studies at this level and through the full professional tier of qualifications:


If English is not your first language, evidence of achieving one of the following English Language qualifications within the last two years is also required: IELTS Academic Module with an overall score of 6.5 (each component pass mark must be 6.0 or above), or Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (grade B or above is required). CIM will consider other equivalent alternatives.

How will I be assessed?

Case Study Exam Assessment:

Format:                Computer based
Availability:       February - at any of the 5,000 Pearson VUE centres around the world
Length:                 3 hours
Marking:              Human marked
Results:                Available 5 weeks after the close of the exam window


The Case Study exams are used to test a variety of skills including research and analysis, how to present information, persuasion and communication skills.  The move to more Case Study exams has been deliberate to test a wider range of skills and integrated learning across the syllabus.  Case Study exams reflect a real life business scenario, comprising a series of time bound tasks set for students to complete based on pre-seen material.

What can I do next?

You may wish to consider the full CIMA Diploma in Management Accounting qualification, or continue onto P1, F1, E1 or the Case Study as single units

For more information

For more information about this course, contact our specialist team on 01254 29 25 00 or email

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