Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module ECON43615: Accounting Theory

Department: Business School (Economics and Finance)

ECON43615: Accounting Theory

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.
Tied to L1K209
Tied to L1K309
Tied to L1K709
Tied to L1K809
Tied to L1K609
Tied to L1K509
Tied to L1K109


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enable students to:
  • acquire and demonstrate a specialist knowledge and understanding of the different theories of accounting;
  • appreciate the arguments for and against the existence of accounting regulation;
  • develop a critical understanding of the rationales for regulation;
  • understand the relevance to the accounting standard setting process of potential economic and social impacts arising from accounting regulation;
  • critically assess accounting practices;
  • understand and critically assess theoretical issues and recent developments in accounting.


  • The financial reporting environment
  • The regulation of financial accounting
  • Normative theories of accounting 1: Accounting for changing prices
  • Normative theories of accounting 2: Conceptual framework projects
  • Positive accounting theories
  • Systems oriented theories
  • Social and environmental factors in financial reporting
  • Critical perspectives on accounting
  • Methodological issues in accounting research

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students should have a specialist knowledge and critical understanding of:
  • the history of the accounting profession and accounting regulation;
  • alternative methods of accounting for changing prices;
  • the foundations of positivist approaches to accounting theory;
  • how stakeholders’ perceptions can influence the disclosure policies of an organisation (as represented by systems oriented theories such as legitimacy theory, stakeholder theory and institutional theory);
  • various theoretical perspectives that can explain why organisations might voluntarily elect to provide publicly available information about their social and environmental performance;
  • how disclosure (or non-disclosure) of information can be construed to be an important strategy to promote and legitimise particular social orders, and maintain the power and wealth of elites.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should be able to:
  • identify, explain and critically evaluate various projects aimed at developing an accounting conceptual framework;
  • appreciate differences in methodological approaches to address research questions.
Key Skills:
  • written communication
  • planning, organising and time management
  • problem-solving and analytical skills
  • computer literacy
  • summarizing and critically assessing professional reports, statements and academic articles.

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

  • A combination of lectures, seminars and guided reading will contribute to achieving the aims and learning outcomes of this module.
  • The summative written examination will test students' knowledge and understanding of the material covered in the module, their critical evaluation and analytical skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 1 per week 2 hours 18
Seminars 4 1 per fortnight 1 hour 4
Preparation & Reading 128
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination 2 hours 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

Students will receive written comments on a formative written assignment. Additional formative assessment, and feedback, may take a number of forms such as oral feedback on work prepared by students for seminars; answers to questions either discussed during a seminar, or posted on DUO; discussions with teaching staff during consultation hours, or via e-mail.

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