Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)


Department: Business School (Economics and Finance)


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap None. Location Durham
Tied to N401
Tied to N404
Tied to N406
Tied to N402
Tied to N403
Tied to N405


  • Contemporary Issues in Financial Accounting BUSS3051; Financial Planning & Control BUSS3061


  • Research Project

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • acquire and demonstrate a specialist knowledge and understanding of the different theories of financial 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
  • Conceptual framework projects
  • Positive accounting theories
  • Systems oriented theories
  • Social and environmental factors in financial reporting
  • Critical perspectives on accounting
  • Methodological issues in experimental and market-based accounting research

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students should have a specialist knowledge and critical understanding of:
  • Accounting regulation.
  • Positivist approaches to accounting theory, including decision theory and agency 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, Organisation and Time Management
  • Problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Summarising 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

  • Learning will be facilitated by lectures, seminars and support for private study.
  • Formative assessment will be by means of preparation of a written assignment (1,500 words maximum).
  • Summative assessment will comprise a written examination to test students’ subject-specific knowledge and understanding, and a written assignment requiring students to undertake a critical evaluation of the different accounting theories and their linkages to different research methodologies.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Once a week 2 hours 20
Seminars 4 Once every fortnight 1 hour 4
Preparation, fieldwork and reading 176
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Exam 2 hours 100%
Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written assignment in the form of a critical evaluation of accounting theories and their linkages to research methodologies 3000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students will receive written comments on a formative written assignment of 1500 words. 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