The IPA is extending its efforts to create a better-qualified agency workforce with the launch of a new training programme aimed at developing the knowledge of middle managers.
The IPA Excellence Diploma is for staff with a minimum of three years' experience who have the potential to take on senior agency roles.
Between 30 and 50 candidates are expected to take part in the course when it launches on Monday.
The programme is part of an initiative led by Stephen Woodford, the IPA president and WCRS chief executive, who has championed the return of exam-based qualifications for the industry as part of his presidential agenda.
Richard Hytner, the Saatchi & Saatchi chairman, EMEA, Gerry Moira, the former chairman and executive creative director of Publicis, and Will Collin, a partner at Naked, are among the senior industry figures who will be leading the study sessions.
They will take part in face-to-face sessions, provide online support and be part of the examination review team, with an external examiner.
Woodford said: "I know that this programme will hit the spot with our middle management, which is hungry for the knowledge that will help them hold more confident debates with their clients on the value of brand-building through brand communications."
Nick Kendall, the Bartle Bogle Hegarty group strategy director, is overseeing the programme, which will enable candidates to study case histories and to understand existing theories and practice.
"The aim is to encourage delegates to familiarise themselves with the wide range of thinking material available, in order for them to push their own original thinking," Kendall said. "We hope people will come out at the end of it with a deeper knowledge and with deeper personal points of view."
The course will comprise six modules, involving a total of 120 hours' study. At the end of the programme, candidates will write a thesis on a subject relevant to their discipline. Each candidate will have a mentor within their agency, who will function as a sounding board and help the candidate manage their workload.
The launch follows last year's introduction of the IPA Foundation Certificate, intended to give advertising newcomers a basic knowledge of the industry.