The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) is launching the world's first international diploma in risk management in October. 'As well as being the first international qualification in this area, the Diploma will also offer the most integrated approach to managing risk across a whole organisation,' says IRM chief executive Steve Fowler.

'This is a fundamental change from the way the profession has operated in the past, when people have usually viewed risk management as vocational,' says Fowler. 'They have tended to ask what skills they need to do a particular job in a particular organisation, rather than how to acquire the skills to demonstrate a broad knowledge of the art and science of risk management.'

The new diploma – called the IRM International Diploma in Risk Management – is a post-graduate level distance learning qualification that replaces the IRM Diploma in Risk Management. It is designed to meet the needs of a wide range of professionals, including risk managers and those working in risk-related disciplines, and anyone wishing to demonstrate their professional standing and enhance their career prospects.

A collaborative process

The IRM spent the first 18 months of its work to recast the diploma gaining input from nearly 70 academics and practitioners around the world. It asked this 'faculty' of risk specialists what skills and competencies risk professionals would need in 10 years' time, and developed the new syllabus in response to their comments.

Professor Peter Young, chairman of the IRM's diploma faculty, explains: 'Everyone is aware that the field of risk management has changed in the last decade, a lot more than many other fields. The scope of what risk professionals need to know has expanded tremendously. Rather than updating the diploma in its current form, we wanted to step back and think about what the programme is supposed to be doing.'

As a result of this research, the IRM designed a completely new diploma that would cater to the current needs of risk professionals, as well as anticipating their future challenges. Of the five core modules, the first three aim to give an academic and practical grounding in risk expertise, while the next two modules are geared towards how to apply this expertise within an organisation. These are followed by two specialist modules and a practical assignment.

Fowler says: 'Practical application is critical to the design of the new diploma programme. In the workplace, companies require people who have the right professional training and background, and people who are able to apply their knowledge. The diploma therefore sits between an academic approach to risk and the application of those theories'

“Everyone is aware that the field of risk management has changed

The course involves flexible distance learning, allowing students to work at their own pace, and most students will take four years to complete it. 'With the launch of the new diploma, we are creating an online university environment, where students can find and download the published material they need, question examiners, network with fellow students and get advice on their studies,’ says Fowler.

International outlook

Giving the new diploma an international outlook has been key. 'We believe that anyone working in risk management needs to be able to give senior management a truly international perspective on the exposures their organisations have,' explains Fowler. 'Multiple corporate governance and regulatory regimes mean that global enterprises, and smaller companies alike need to know what approaches to risk management apply in the markets where they are doing business.'

This need is reflected in the new syllabus. For example, the corporate governance module encompasses the Turnbull Guidance and the Combined Code on Corporate Governance, Sarbanes-Oxley, and the mixture of codes being implemented in Asia.

'The diploma qualification will also be the first risk management qualification that is truly holistic and integrated,' says Fowler. 'This will play an important role in ensuring that the risk profession comes to be properly recognised as playing a broad managerial role in any organisation.

'It will also be important for individuals, because a narrower vocational training can limit the range of jobs open to them and the salaries they can achieve. A broad professional background and wide knowledge is likely to denote someone who can contribute to the business overall, rather than purely as a technician.'

Find out more

Students can enrol for the diploma from September. To find out more or to enrol, please visit

What is the course structure?

Level 1 core modules
- Principles of risk covering the background to risk management
- Risk and organisations examples of how risk affects different organisations
- Risk decisions techniques for risk and decision analysis
- Risk leadership risk programme development, including governance and ethics
- Risk solutions practical solutions to risk issues, including risk control, risk financing, business continuity and project risk management

Level 2 specialisms (two modules must be taken)

Technical modules

Project risk
Business continuity and crisis
Risk financing
Information risk
Physical risk control
Environmental risk
Occupational safety and health

Sector modules

Public sector
Retail, logistics and supply chain management
Sports and entertainment
Legal risk
Financial services
International business

Level 3 Practical Assignment
Level 3 will enable students to display the knowledge and skills they have gained through studying levels 1 and 2, as well as demonstrating their ability for critical appraisal.