CIPS syllabus changes – global focus moves away from public sector

CIPS (the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply) recently announced major changes to their qualification structure and syllabus. These are the most significant for many years, and follow a wide consultation process. The new qualification structure will take effect from March 2013, but there are transitional arrangements in place to ensure no-one currently studying will be disadvantaged. The five levels will be:

  • Professional diploma in procurement and supply
  • Advanced diploma in procurement and supply
  • Diploma in procurement and supply
  • Advanced certificate in procurement and supply operations
  • Certificate in procurement and supply operations

There are a number of major changes from the previous set-up that are worth highlighting.


The Graduate Diploma is now the Professional Diploma in Procurement and Supply. CIPS says: “Feedback received from the consultation suggested that the Graduate Diploma was not reflecting the professional nature of the qualification.  CIPS have benchmarked with other professional institutes before making this change”.

I’m not sure this is that big a deal, but I wouldn’t argue – Graduate Diploma maybe sounded a bit lightweight.  All the qualifications now refer to Procurement rather than Purchasing. Again, that seems sensible, and I wonder whether this presages a change in the Institutes name – the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, anyone?


The new syllabus has been designed to be more standardised globally. “The existing International certificate and International advanced certificate will cease and be replaced by new and up-to-date qualifications, which will be the same for everyone around the world.  There will no longer be a distinction between UK and international qualifications”.

On one level, that again seems very sensible. However, might it lose  something in the process? (See the comments below on the public sector issue).


Each level has three compulsory modules and candidates choose two more modules from a choice of three. There will be less choice within exams. “ There will be no optional questions in examinations and to improve accessibility there will be fewer case study formats”.

I guess case studies tend to be culturally specific, an issue if you’re seeking a truly global approach, and the lack of choice probably increases rigour, although that’s only my interpretation.

Public  Sector

Specific UK public sector modules (units) have been discontinued. So goodbye to these units:

  • The machinery of government
  • Contracting in the public sector
  • Public sector stakeholders and governance
  • Strategic public sector programme management

There’s a passing mention of public procurement law  in the “Legal aspects in procurement and supply (UK)” optional module at level 6, but no specific public sector modules at any level.

Interesting – how does the UK public sector itself feel about this, we wondered? We’ll have some answers to that question tomorrow...!

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Voices (5)

  1. Mwalili joshua:

    As for me very little has changed but anyway they(cips) are doing a nice job . What is worrying me is will the old past papers still be available ? I have had a look at them and they are very nice for revision purposes .

  2. Last Muzenda:

    Wonderful job by cips staff on updates.

  3. bitter and twisted:

    CIPS courses should be more modular so you can concentrate on a particular sector.

    You should be able to race ahead to a high level in the aspects that interest you.

    Or would that contradict the current dogma of the ‘professional’ who can buy anything?

  4. Gordon Murray:

    The dropping of the public sector seems bonkers but just reflects the ‘what goes around comes around’ nature of CIPS. To me CIPS needs to understand potential customers and employers needs – and we know the public sector has been a big customer. if we drop the public sector aspects are we really saying to the public sector that the CIPS professional qualifications transfer across or are we expecting the public sector to develop their own? I spent years trying to help non-public sector MCIPS and FCIPS understand that the public sector is different and mentoring those who found the shift not as easy as expected.

    Just out of interest, do you know what this means to those who completed the ‘Professional Qualifications’ – what designation of qualification are we now expected to say we have?

  5. Paul Wright:

    The devil is as usual in the detail of how this is applied. I have taught the International Certificate in the Middle East, and some of the provided material and syllabus is too focused on the uk as things are. Harmonising is great as long as we do not end up with something that does not meet the diverse needs of the two constituencies.

    The public/private is the same, but with an even larger difference between the two sectors (in my opinion). It is not just a matter of legislation but philosophy, objectives and approach. If the new syllabus explores those it wil be fine – if it attempts to use a single approach it will not meet the needs of one group.

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