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Keep at the forefront of pension reforms

The RQF Level 4 Award in Pensions Update is a single unit qualification that develops and tests knowledge of pension reforms and how they impact at-retirement advice.

Since the Government rewrote the rule book on pensions practice, some 8,000 financial advisers, paraplanners and those in related roles have enrolled for the Award, and over 5,000 have already passed the exam. 

The unit syllabus setting out the learning outcomes for the Award can be found on the right of this page. 

Who it's for 

The Award is particularly suitable for:

  • Retail investment advisers wanting to develop and test their knowledge of pension reforms
  • Paraplanners, technical consultants and staff in related support roles with existing knowledge and experience of pensions 

Entry requirements


Learning support

Enrolment includes everything you need for a single fee: 

  • Study text with online updates, 
  • RevisionMate online study support; and 
  • First exam entry.

Additional supporting includes audio revision, online question packs and face-to-face face revision courses.

How you're tested

The Award is assessed by a single multiple-choice on screen exam, tested year-round throughout the UK at a choice of over 40 centres. Find out more by selecting the completion requirements link to the right of this page.

Your next step

The links at the top right of this page contain all the information you need to finalise your entry. To enrol and enter for the exam, please select the R08 link.


CII qualifications involve the completion of one or more units, each covering an individually assessed topic. Assessment methods vary and depend on a unit's level and subject matter.

Assessment methods include:

  • Multiple-choice exams - the assessment method for Award, Certificate, and financial services 'R0' Diploma units assessed in the UK. Exams are delivered on-screen at a network of over 40 public centres across the UK. Sittings are available year-round, often on a weekly basis.
  • Written exams - the assessment method for some Diploma and Advanced Diploma units and all units examined outside the UK. Sittings are typically available twice-yearly in April and October at over 50 public centres throughout the UK and over 100 public centres outside the UK.
  • Coursework assessment - available for a select number of Advanced Diploma in Insurance units and the financial services unit (J09) Paraplanning, coursework assessment involves the completion of three written assignments during a 12 month period.
  • Mixed assessment - Initially introduced for unit (P92) Insurance business and finance, this has been extended to units (P05) Insurance law, (P80) Underwriting practice, (P81) Insurance broking practice and (P85) Claims practice from April 2015 and and will be extended to all Diploma in Insurance units by April 2018 (unit codes begin with the letter M). This involves the successful completion of both a coursework assignment and a multiple-choice exam. This has an 18 month enrolment period.
  • Dissertation assessment - available for the Advanced Diploma unit 991 London market insurance specialisation. This involves the submission of a dissertation proposal and an 11,000 word dissertation. This has an 18 month enrolment period. This unit should only be taken by those who have access to the necessary information and people in the London Market.

Find out more

It is essential that candidates familiarise themselves with the guidelines and instructions which are shown on the CII website under the relevant units. In addition candidates should familiarise themselves with the coursework and dissertation policies as well as exam policies (before the assessment) and notes to results (after the assessment).

Key facts

Key facts for the Pensions Update Programme


Framework of Regulated Qualifications (FRQ) Level Level 4
Number of available units 1 Diploma-level unit
Compulsory unit (R08) Pensions update
CII credits per unit R08 - 10 credits
Exam format • Online, one hour
• 40 multiple choice questions (MCQs) and 1 case study comprising 5 MCQs
Average study time per unit R08 - 50 hours
Availability of exam sessions (details shown apply to the UK. Outside of the UK exams are offered twice-yearly) Year-round
Availability varies from centre to centre, but typically weekly
Entry requirements? None
Record of Achievement issued for each exam pass? Yes
Qualification awarded upon completion Yes - Award in Pensions Update
CII/PFS membership designation n/a

Completion requirements

To complete the Award you need to obtain 10 CII credits by passing one compulsory unit: R08

Unit Credits and level  Study hours per unit * Assesment method Exam sessions Nominal pass mark ** Results notification
R08 10 - Level 4 50 1 hour exam comprising 40 MCQs and 1 case study comprising 5 multiples choice questions  Year-round 65% Immediate notification of results

* The recommended minimum study hours shown below will vary according to your experience and ability. 

** The nominal pass mark is shown, however, the actual pass mark may vary from one session to another to ensure that the pass standard remains constant.

Assessment information

It is important that candidates entering for a CII assessment familiarise themselves with our service, in particular the rules and procedures that are in place.


R08 Pensions update

At the end of this unit, candidates should understand the:

  • changes introduced by the Taxation of Pensions Act 2014;
  • changes to the State pension provision from 06 April 2016;
  • key factors to take into account when advising clients on their retirement income.