Foundation Degree in Payroll Management (FdA)

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The CIPP Foundation Degree in Payroll Management is for current or aspiring payroll managers seeking to become qualified professionals at the forefront of the payroll industry.

Designed for those who wish to thrust into the dynamic world of payroll management, this qualification develops an in-depth understanding of payroll processes and also the legislation, contractual conditions and case-law which underpin the profession.

Alongside this, students also acquire a broad range of managerial knowledge and skills including operations management, project management, marketing principles and budget controls.

Study the UK's only university-accredited payroll management qualification

This is the only university-accredited payroll management qualification offered in the UK. Students who successfully complete the programme graduate from the University of Worcester.

Graduates of the Foundation Degree in Payroll Management are eligible for full membership of the CIPP. Students completing the course also take a significant step towards meeting the criteria for Chartered membership.

Why should I invest in this qualification?

Payroll is responsible for managing the largest expenditure of virtually all businesses. Coupled with the ever-increasing regulations and responsibilities entrusted to payroll, it is paramount for organisations to have competent and knowledgeable payroll professionals managing this function.

This payroll management qualification teaches students not only the full spectrum of the payroll profession but also imparts the skills and insight to proactively solve problems, seek improvements to workplace practices and identify incorrect processes which could lead to non-compliance penalties or tribunals if unchecked.

Students are required to readily apply their new-found knowledge to the workplace, enabling employers to realise tangible benefits whilst their employees undertake their studies and beyond graduation.

Who is this qualification aimed at?

Existing payroll managers, payroll supervisors, payroll team leaders as well as experienced payroll officers and payroll administrators who wish to progress to payroll management positions whilst gaining a UK-recognised university degree.

The programme caters for those who work in all payroll environments; from payroll service providers, accountancy firms, in-house payroll teams and sole payrollers. Completion of this payroll management course significantly enhances career opportunities in the payroll industry, enabling progression onto not only payroll management roles, but also payroll consultancy, payroll software development and positions in reward and benefits management.



Year one

Students explore in-depth the fundamentals of payroll and pension scheme processes to enable accurate and efficient calculations and administration of payments and deductions. Completion of this year equips students with the knowledge, skills and attributes required of a senior payroll administrator or payroll officer.

Students who complete this component of the degree programme are awarded the CIPP’s Practitioner Certificate in Payroll.

  • Introduction to Payroll and Pensions
    • Analysing the objectives of the payment office
    • Classifying types of UK pension schemes
    • Distinguishing payroll data categories and payment frequencies
    • Outlining obligatory right to work employment checks
    • Summarising of factors affecting employment status
  • Assessment of pay and benefits
    • Distinguishing categories of gross pay and remuneration entitlements
    • Summarising automatic enrolment and pension contributions processes
    • Distinguishing PAYE income tax allowances and tax codes
    • Establishing taxable pay and non-taxable payments
  • Working in a team
    • Employing effective communication methods and conflict resolution
    • Identifying formal and informal team structures and roles
    • Examining principles of team management and objective setting
    • Identifying principles of team development
  • Deductions from pay
    • Calculating employee and employer NICs
    • Calculating PAYE income tax
    • Administering Court order deductions
    • Calculating Student Loan Deductions
    • Administering contractual and voluntary deductions
  • Absence processing
    • Calculating SSP, SMP SAP, SPP and ShPP payments
    • Managing the interaction between statutory and contractual leave payments
    • Administering and calculating annual leave entitlements
    • Identifying other statutory and contractual leave obligations

Year two

Students progress onto more advanced payroll principles such as termination payments, employment status and overpayment recovery. This year also explores employment law, audit controls, contractual obligations and the theoretical aspects of effective first-line management. Completion of this year equips students with the knowledge, skills and attributes required of a payroll supervisor.

Students who complete this component of the degree programme are awarded the CIPP’s Advanced Practitioner Certificate in Payroll.

  • Leading the team
    • Analysing and monitoring staff performance
    • Examining and applying leadership and management theory
    • Outlining change management theory and application
    • Investigating the legislative and contractual conditions for staff management
  • Provision of effective and efficient administration
    • Critically analysing payment methods and pay distribution arrangements
    • Examining internal and external audit practices and procedures
    • Identifying relevant management reports and cost control
    • Outlining quality standards and ISO accreditation
  • Contractual aspects of payroll administration
    • Identifying relevant employment law and the impact on payroll management
    • Investigating permanent and temporary contractual changes
    • Establishing correct TUPE practices
    • Examining correct practices with leavers, redundancies and retirement
    • Outlining principles of processing foreign workers and expatriate payrolls
  • Define and manage, systems, security and risk
    • Examine payroll system requirements
    • Establishing GDPR compliance, data security and storage requirements.
    • Investigating and mitigating payroll fraud
    • Constructing effective payroll contingency plans
  • Advanced payroll processing
    • Examining pay awards, pay spines and remuneration packages
    • Examining pay structures in educational establishments
    • Analysing employment status factors and associated case law
    • Outlining benefits in kind and calculating PSAs
    • Calculating director NICs and director earning periods
    • Establishing effective salary sacrifice and OpRA arrangements
    • Ascertaining tax and NIC liabilities on termination payments
    • Identifying optimal overpayment recovery practices

Year three

Completing this final year elevates a student’s knowledge and skills to payroll operational management level. The syllabus covers benefits-in-kind, project management, marketing of payroll services, personal development planning and budgeting. Completion of this year equips students with the knowledge, skills and attributes to assume payroll managerial positions.

Students who complete this component of the degree programme are awarded the CIPP’s Diploma in Payroll Management.

  • Work-based project
    • Constructing a research design and strategy on an operational issue
    • Formulating critical judgements on applicable concepts and theories
    • Evaluating and communicating research findings to stakeholders
    • Solving live work-based problems and recommend improvements
    • Determining feasible opportunities for organisational development
  • Improving services and operations
    • Examining the role and responsibilities of operational management
    • Identifying benchmarking methods on performance
    • Examine the principles of project management and project delivery
    • Formulating improvements to operational practices
  • Flexible benefits, finance and budgets
    • Distinguishing taxable and non-taxable benefits in kind
    • Calculating taxable benefits reportable on P11Ds
    • Establishing the principles of payrolling benefits in kind
    • Identifying benefits liable to Class 1 or Class 1A NICs
    • Formulate effective expenses management procedures
    • Examining budgetary controls and budget setting
  • Understanding customers and clients
    • Examining marketing skills and techniques
    • Establishing the application of marketing within the payroll function
    • Discovering factors that influence customer behaviour
    • Identifying factors that positively influence customer experience
  • Personal effectiveness and professional development
    • Composing career plans and goal setting in a dynamic modern workplace
    • Devising opportunities for transferring and application of work-based skills
    • Compiling evidence for accreditation of prior learning and experience
    • Formulating personal development plans in conjunction with business needs


Entry requirements

  • Must be over 16 years of age.

  • Must reside in the UK.

  • Proficient in Maths and English to L2 (GCSE).

  • Preferable but not essential, should be working in a payroll environment or have responsibility for a payroll function.


The Foundation Degree in Payroll Management is delivered through blended learning. Each module consists of one module workshop, delivered face to face at specified locations throughout the UK, a tutorial which will be provided either face to face or online based on your geographical location and self-driven home study through the Heart of Worcestershire College student website. For employers with five or more learners, this payroll management course can be delivered on your work premises. For further information please email us.

We would recommend an average study time of 8-10 hours per week in addition to the attendance days.

How much does it cost?

£3,495 + VAT per year course fee.

£145.00 per year associate student membership subscription, saving you £80*.

Whilst studying with the CIPP you are required to be an associate level (or above) member of the Institute. CIPP membership provides invaluable support for your further reading and research whilst studying the qualification. If you are already a valued member of the institute at associate level or above, only the course fee is payable.

What do my course fees include?

  • Allocation of a fully qualified CIPP tutor to provide you with support during your studies, tutors are assigned to students based on geographical location to ensure maximum benefit and minimal travel requirements for students.
  • Induction session providing course information, structure and advice.
  • Module workshops (full day), one per module to review and discuss module material with a CIPP tutor.
  • Tutorials (2-3 hours dependant on module), one per module to affirm knowledge and prepare for assessment.
  • Access to the Heart of Worcestershire College student website, which provides:
    • Discussion forums so that students can support each other and where tutors can respond to any questions relevant for the whole group
    • Study material, induction, module workshop and tutorial slides, plus other relevant information
  • University registration and the Heart of Worcestershire College student membership with specialist online support.

For more information on the costs, please call 0121 712 1044 or email us.

*saving equates to a reduction of the associate member fee of £30, plus we will waive the new £50 registration fee

Exam and assignment fees: please note that there will be additional costs for deferrals and re-sits if required.

Prices valid until 30 June and reviewed annually.

Fees & timetables


  • Course fee: £3,495 + VAT

  • Assessment resit fee: £75 + VAT

  • Assessment retake fee: £150 + VAT (for third attempts at assessment only)

  • Course deferral fee: £150 + VAT


Enrolment forms

Please note that intakes are subject to meeting minimum student numbers if the minimum number of students is not achieved we will contact you to discuss your options.

To ensure the speedy processing of your enrolment form, please send a copy via email to [email protected] as well as sending by post.

Student loans

Students enrolling on the Foundation Degree in Payroll Management are eligible to apply for a student loan to assist with funding these qualifications. Student loans are available to all self-funding students in England who have not previously received a student loan. They are not based on, nor do they affect your credit rating. Students living in Scotland, Wales or Ireland are not currently within the student loan process. Students from these areas who require public support to assist with funding should apply for a part-time student grant from their respective governing body.

The benefits of a student loan to an individual would be:

  • No requirement to pay course fees upfront
  • No re-payment unless or until you reach the gross earnings threshold for student loans outlined within current legislation
  • Repayments only commence following completion of the qualification
  • No effect on your credit history

Students applying for a student loan must do so through the student loan company. Further information on student loans can also be viewed here. When applying for a student loan for the Foundation Degree in Payroll Management, you will be asked for the name of the institute. Please state the 'Heart of Worcestershire College' not the CIPP on your application form for this purpose.

Please contact the education team on 0121 712 1023 or email us before completing the student loan application to obtain the correct information.

Student loan application process



The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment is a university required assessment designed for Payroll or Pensions professionals with at least two years’ experience.

Successful completion of the RPL assessment will enable an individual to progress directly to year two of the Foundation Degree in Payroll Management or Foundation Degree in Pensions Administration and Management.

To help you gain employer support we've created a business case to support you: 

Business Case Letter for Employers in Payroll Management FD