4 reasons you should complete EPSM before studying ACCA SBL

Updated: Aug 18, 2020



Assuming today you just got your Applied Skills exam result, all subjects passed!


Now, you are considering next level exam that is the Strategic Professional Module exam.


You probably heard exams in this module are difficult, yes, they are. Some papers in this module pass rate is only 30%.


You also heard it is an Ethics and Professional Skills Module (EPSM) you need to pass in order to be an ACCA member.


So, what should you do next?


ACCA advises students to complete EPSM before studying any Strategic Professional exam. Here I would like to share why you need to follow ACCA advices. In addition, I would tell you some secret tips on how the completion of EPSM can help you to pass Strategic Business Leader (SBL) exam.

A quick recap of ACCA relational diagram

In order to be qualified as ACCA member, you need to pass all required exams, pass the Ethics and Professional Skills Module and obtained required working experiences.


ACCA SBL should be the first paper to start in Strategic Professional module as some of the exam questions are referring back to the knowledge gained from prior module papers, such as Accountant in Business, Performance Management, Financial Reporting, Audit & Assurance and Financial Management.


SBL also contains 20 marks in professional skills which are new to many of you. Professional skills cannot be found in any papers studied in Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills module, but you can find them in EPSM in which I would like to share more about it in the following.

What is ACCA ethics and professional skills module

ACCA launched the new EPSM in 2017. The purpose of EPSM is to increase your employability by exposing you to realistic business situations and developing all required business skills.


Those skills are not only limited to ethics in business practice, but also skills in developing your career too. The module is made of learning, support and assessment units in an interactive environment.


Effective from 2 April 2019, total number of units in EPSM is 10 (the old EPSM is 7 units only). They include –

  1. Ethics and professionalism

  2. Personal effectiveness

  3. Innovation and scepticism

  4. Commercial awareness

  5. Leadership and team working

  6. Communication and interpersonal skills

  7. Data analytics (New!)

  8. Case study (New!)

  9. Strategic professional support (New!)

  10. End of module assessment


Some of the topics are very useful in your career development, such as organising meetings, using spreadsheets and crafting your CV (e.g. Unit 2) and communicating in the workplace (e.g. Unit 6). I will share with you what topics are useful in your SBL exam below.

How long does the ACCA Ethics and Professional Skills Module to complete

The module is made up of 10 units while Unit 1 to Unit 6 provides the learning to you on both ethics and professional skills. At the end of each unit, there will be a series of assessments to embed your learning.


Unit 8 is a case study, the professional skills developed in the previous units will be tested. A series of tasks include financial forecasting, human resource planning, organisational restructuring advice and strategic planning.


Unit 9 explains the links between EPSM and SBL and other Strategic Professional exams and how EPSM supports learning of these papers.


Unit 10 is an assessment containing 14 questions divided into 2 objective test questions. The topics are from first 7 units and pass mark is 50%. If you don’t pass then you will get feedback and you can try again.


In an interactive learning environment, you will get a lot of opportunities to respond tasks and challenges, it help to develop your professional skills in workplace, including communication, commercial acumen, innovation, analysis and evaluation.