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Accounting Theory


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor and tutor: to be confirmed
  • Prerequisite: Introduction to Accounting
  • Assessment: a 2000-word essay (70%) and a 20-minute group poster presentation (30%)

Module description

In this module we consider accounting theories that make up the foundation of current accounting practice. We look at key topics in accounting research such as:

  • the lobbying of accounting standard-setting bodies
  • incentives for, and consequences of, earnings management
  • the latest attempt to improve environmental and social reporting through integrated reports.

Both lectures and seminars are highly interactive with discussion, group work, group presentations and simulation of accounting research methods, and you will engage with extant research both through reading and discussing academic articles, and undertake your own research. You will be given the opportunity to look deeper into questions that interest you.

The module will provide you with the core skills and knowledge to recognise common unethical behaviour in financial reporting practices and how to deal with such situations, and to engage in the debate around accounting standards development.

Indicative syllabus

  • Relevance and reliability: the conflicting principles
  • Conceptual framework: normative theory
  • How fair are fair values? The controversy surrounding fair value accounting
  • International accounting: differences and reconciliations
  • Accounting standard setting: how does current practice evolve?
  • Earnings management: why are earnings managed and what are the consequences?
  • Disclosure and the readability of financial reports
  • Integrated reporting: a solution to green washing?

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • critically evaluate current accounting practice
  • appreciate the economic consequences of various accounting practices
  • understand current challenges in global accounting standard setting, including why they arise and how they are resolved.