Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)

Module BUSI55615: Interpreting and Improving Management Accounting Information

Department: Economics, Finance and Business (Business)

BUSI55615: Interpreting and Improving Management Accounting Information

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap
Tied to N1KG07
Tied to N1DL07
Tied to N1DE07
Tied to N1DB07
Tied to N1KG12
Tied to N1DL12
Tied to N1DE12
Tied to N1DB12
Tied to N1KG14
Tied to N1DL14
Tied to N1DE14
Tied to N1DB14


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • Medium sized organisations and departments usually have established financial systems in place but these are often underused and usually supported by the help of external, qualified accountants. This module seeks to give the students the communicative competence to deal with the specialist in the finance sector - including accountants, banks and venture capitalists.


  • The content of this module is set with a medium sized organisation or department context and covers the following areas:
  • Strategy, Planning and Finance Linkages
  • The Accounting System - designing account codes and responsibility centres
  • The Statutory and Management Profit and Loss Statements including an understanding of gross profit, gross margins, depreciation net profit etc.
  • The Statutory and Management Balance sheet Statements including an understanding of fixed assets, working capital and debt or equity funding
  • Cash Flow Statement and Forecasts including an understanding of managing debtors
  • The Difference Between Cash and Profit.
  • How the three financial statements interact
  • Using Financial Ratios
  • Costing including an understanding of costing methods and their strengths and limitations

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students should have an advanced knowledge and critical understanding of:
  • the inputs to a management accounting system
  • the nature of management accounting information
  • the use and misuse of financial ratios
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students should be able to:
  • Critically evaluate the format in which their accounts are currently prepared.
  • Critically evaluate the importance of historical financial information.
  • Link financial forecasting to strategic business planning, accounting for sales, gross margin, employee costs and marketing.
  • Monitor and evaluate financial performance using key financial ratios.
  • Critically evaluate the influence of cost drivers on pricing policies.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students should be able to:
  • Communicate with financial experts
  • Communicate financial information to people in their organisation

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures and seminars, supported by guided reading, will be used to introduce and explore the key concepts and theories.
  • Financial exercises and bespoke case studies will help them develop their ability to apply the various techniques and calculations in a wide variety of circumstances.
  • Directors and senior managers in medium sized organisations and departments need to be able to understand the origination, calculation and interpret the presentation of financial statements. This modular unit provides participants with understanding and knowledge of traditional financial reporting, providing them with the ability to compile and interpret reports and understand limitations and conventions.
  • After developing this basic understanding of accounting convention and financial reporting, directors and senior managers must effectively analyse the data for decision-making purposes. this modular unit gives students the ability to use the tools and techniques of financial analysis which influence key decision, making throughout budgeting, investment, costing and pricing processes.
  • The summative assignment will require the student to analyse the Financial Systems and Financial Reports in their own organisation and comment on how these aid (or not) the organisational decision making process. This assignment allows students to consider the practical application of the subject covered. Progressive completion of the Learning Log allows progress towards achieving learning objectives to be monitored throughout. Together, the Personal Statement and Learning Log provide a framework for reflection that is then incorporated within the final Presentation.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 2 In 2 day consecutive residential session 18
Tutorials 1 Once 5 hours 5
Mentor visits 2 Twice 5 hours 10
Visit by students to the place of work of one of the other students 1 Once 5 hours 5
Preparation & Reading 112
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Exercises and case studies throughout the workshops develop the knowledge and skills to allow students to apply the same techniques in the own organisations for the summative assignment

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University