Accounting, Organisations and Society (893N1)

15 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

The major aims of this module are several. The first is to increase your knowledge of controversies over what constitutes legitimate accounting knowledge and practice, research methods, its social role, and how practice and policy, research, and methodological assumptions are intertwined. The second is to raise awareness of how and why accounting impacts constituencies beyond organisations and their management, and to evaluate possibilities of its reform in the public interest. The module is research led, entails considerable self-reflection and guided self-study, and is interdisciplinary in nature.

The module commences with an intensive lecture series (weeks one to four) that will outline why and how accounting research has adopted a variety of conflicting social science theories and methods, detail their fundamental assumptions and findings, and illustrate how they raise or cast fresh light on important issues on the role and effects of accounting upon individuals, organisations and society.

The second half of the module (weeks five to eight) will be less structured as you will embark on research essays chosen from a variety of topics drawn up by the course convenor. These may change over time due to faculty interests and expertise, your choices and preferences, and emergence of new issues. An indicative list would include: does accounting merit the status of a profession? Have accounting practices contributed to the rise of an `audit society'? Can accounting address issues of ecology and sustainability? Are the structures and processes of standard setting in the public interest? Are the assumptions of modern finance theory and positive accounting theory justifiable and why have they become influential and to what effect? Have accounting reforms in poor countries enhanced their economic development? Can accounting provide `a true and fair view'? To what extent is culture, either nationally or locally, important for the design and operation of accounting systems? Why is accounting integral to `New Public Sector' management and has its effects met the aims of policy-makers?

For the workshops you will be grouped according to common interests in a topic. The workshops will be relatively unstructured and devoted to refining individual essay titles/topics, advice on literature and searches, and helping you construct a suitable essay that should: identify and review a selection of significant research articles on their topic, compare and contrast their assumptions about ontology, epistemology, and involvement in social change; which topics they investigate, and their empirical findings on these and common topics, clearly justify and identify the methodological criteria adopted by the writer to evaluate this work and make reasoned and considered choices and recommendations for changed practices and policies or justify why they are unnecessary.


100%: Practical (Workshop)


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 117 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.