Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ACCT40815: Accounting Theory

Department: Accounting

ACCT40815: Accounting Theory

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.
Tied to L1T509
Tied to N3K209


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with:
  • a theoretical framework for understanding the nature of accounting;
  • specialist knowledge and understanding of different theories of accounting;
  • theoretically informed critical appreciation of accounting practices.


  • The scope of accounting theory means that exact module content may vary. Examples of potential topic areas include the following:
  • Accountability and accounting;
  • Accounting as an information system;
  • The nature of accounting information in the context of conventions and standards;
  • Positive accounting theories;
  • Normative accounting theories;
  • Systems oriented theories;
  • Critical theories in Accounting
  • 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:
  • the nature and importance of theory for developing accounting knowledge and application of that knowledge to the provision of information for decision making;
  • moral values that are implicit in accountability particularly where accounting methods have to do with trust, care, and transparency;
  • different theories of accounting and their application to accounting practices.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module students should have the ability to critically appreciate different accounting theories and take a theoretically informed view of accounting practices.
Key Skills:
  • written communication
  • planning, organising 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

  • A combination of lectures, seminars, small group work and guided reading will contribute to achieving the aims and learning outcomes of this module.
  • The summative assignment 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 10 1 per week 2 hours 20
Seminars 4 1 per fortnight 1 hour 4
Preparation & Reading 126
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written assignment 2500 words max 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

Small group presentations during seminars. 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