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MSc Accounting


At a glance

MSc Accounting

Course Duration
1 year full-time
Mode of study
Full Time
Durham City
Start Date
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A one year full-time programme, it provides an opportunity for you to develop an in-depth understanding of the theory and practice of accounting as well as the critical thinking skills so valued by employers. more

Course Summary

Course Summary


Our innovative MSc Accounting programme sits within Durham’s portfolio of Masters programmes. A one year full-time programme, it provides an opportunity for you to develop an in-depth understanding of the theory and practice of accounting as well as the critical thinking skills so valued by employers. The MSc in Accounting covers key accounting topics including financial statements and their preparation, the practical limitations of financial reporting, and the regulatory framework and its complexities.

This is an ideal programme to choose if you’re looking to pursue a career in accountancy, finance and business.

Core and elective modules

You will study:

  1. Accounting Theory
  2. Auditing and Assurance Services
  3. Contemporary Issues in Accounting and Taxation
  4. Corporate Governance
  5. Corporate Reporting
  6. Financial Planning and Control
  7. Financial Statement Analysis
  8. Research Methods & Methodology in Accounting

Dissertation/Business Project

In the third term you will complete a 12,000 word dissertation which could be a specific project with an organisation. Supervised by a faculty member with relevant experience, you’ll investigate in greater detail a subject that you’ve already studied as part of your programme.

This is an opportunity for you to develop your business insight and present your analysis and ideas in a scholarly and professional manner; combine critical discrimination and a sense of proportion in evaluating evidence and the opinions of others.

Adding to your experience

As part of your programme, you have the opportunity to enjoy presentations by academics and practitioners within your chosen area of interest. Past speakers have included representatives of major global multinationals and leading academics, providing an ideal opportunity to gain practical knowledge and progressive insight.

Course Detail

Course Detail

To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University please click here.

Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.

Learning and Teaching

Course Learning and Teaching

The programme is mainly delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars, and practicals. Lectures provide key contents of a particular topic. Occasionally lectures might be delivered by guest speakers who are internationally recognised academic experts or practitioners in their field. Students can also attend the Durham Speaker Series, providing the opportunity to network with senior business leaders, staff and alumni.

Seminars provide the opportunity for smaller groups of students to solve problems and discuss and debate issues based on knowledge gained through lectures and independent study outside the programme’s formal contact hours. Practicals are medium sized group sessions, where students practice computer software, applying topics from lectures and seminars.

Students study 9 core modules including a 12,000 word dissertation to allow students to carry out independent research and develop their skills in analysis and scholarly expression, using an appropriate theoretical framework. They are supported in writing their dissertation through the study of research methods, and attending individual meetings with an allocated supervisor, who monitors their progress and provides advice.

Academic Support:

Throughout the year, students may have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. All students have an Academic Adviser who is able to provide general advice on academic matters. Teaching staff are also available to provide additional support on a one-to-one basis via weekly consultation hours.

Learning Resource:

Outside of timetabled contact hours, students are expected to undertake a significant amount of independent study in preparation for teaching sessions, assignments and other forms of assessment including exams, and general background reading to broaden their subject knowledge. All students have an Academic Adviser who is able to provide general advice on academic matters. Teaching staff are also available to provide additional support on a one-to-one basis via weekly consultation hours.



Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

Application Deadlines

Please note: The application process opens on 1 October for entry the following academic year.

There is high demand for places on these programmes – typically we receive around 10 applications for each place the University is able to offer. To maximise your chances of being offered one of these places, we recommend that you submit your application to the University as early as possible. 

In order to manage the volume of international applications received by the University to allow the University to ensure each application is properly reviewed, considered and processed, applications from candidates must be received as follows:

  • Applications from individuals resident in Mainland China must be received by 31 January;
  • Applications from any other individuals who would be required to hold a visa in order to study in the UK, must be received by 31 May.
  • Applications from those individuals who fall outside of either category specified above, must be received by 31 August.

Should you miss the deadlines specified above, then it may be possible for the University to add your application to a waiting list, which may be consulted in the event that following review and processing of all applications received prior to the deadlines, vacant places remain available on the programme. 

The University is under no obligation to make any offer of a place on the programme to any applicant, nor is the University obligated to fill all spaces available on the programme.

Consideration of any application received by the University after expiry of the deadlines specified herein, shall be made at the sole discretion of the University.

The MSc Accounting is designed for new or recent graduates in any subject or discipline.

What do I need first?

The equivalent of a UK first or upper second class honours degree. Check the full list of equivalent qualifications

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

NB Chinese Applicants: Applications will be accepted from students who have graduated from a prestigious university in China. Entry requirements may vary depending upon the reputation of the university you have graduated from and the academic programme you have applied for. As a guide, applicants are expected to have achieved an overall average of 85%.

How do I apply?

You will need to complete an online application form.

Fill out the online application form

To support your online application form, you will need to provide the following documents.

  • Two academic references using our standard form (Download the form - Word format
  • Official transcript of marks
  • Copy of degree certificate (if available)
  • Copy of English test results (if available).

You can either upload your supporting documents with your online application or email them to the Postgraduate Admissions Office using the contact details below.


Only files of type .doc, .docx, .gif, .jpg, .pdf, .png, .rtf are permitted to be uploaded.
The maximum file size is 5MB.

Application fee

Once we receive your online application form, you’ll get an automatic email within 48 hours asking you to pay the £60 application fee* which is required to progress your application.

You’ll need to follow the link in the email to the webpage where you can confirm your details and make the payment using a debit or credit card. This is a secure website operated by Secpay, which will send you an automatic receipt of payment.

Once we receive confirmation that your application fee has been paid, we’ll be able to progress your application. If you do not pay the application fee your application will be automatically withdrawn.

College membership

If you’re applying for a full-time programme you’ll need to become a member of one of our Colleges as well as being accepted by a department. Here’s more information about how the college system works. Once you accept your programme offer, the College Postgraduate Office will get in touch with you to arrange accommodation. Please note that demand for college accommodation usually exceeds availability, so please try to arrange it as soon as possible.

Admissions process

Here are the steps in the admissions process:

  1. We will let you know when we’ve received your application.
  2. If applicable, you will be asked to pay our application fee.
  3. Once we’ve received all of your supporting documents, we will email you to let you know our decision.
  4. If the decision is to make you an offer of a place on the programme we will let you know by email. Please note we do not issue hard copy offer letters as these are not required to obtain a student visa.
  5. If you have requested university accommodation on your application form, the college will contact you direct. They will send you an accommodation application form, which you should complete and return direct to the college.
  6. You should confirm acceptance of your offer as soon as possible. In order to secure your place, you are required to pay a deposit within six weeks of the date of your original offer (check your offer documents for details of payment methods).
  7. International students requiring a student visa will receive a CAS (Certificate of Acceptance of Studies) via email once all offer conditions are met, acceptance and deposit have been received and you are within five months of the start date of your programme.

Note: The University is under no obligation to make any offer of a place on the programme to any applicant, nor is the University obligated to fill all spaces available on the programme.

Consideration of any application received by the University after expiry of the deadlines specified herein, shall be made at the sole discretion of the University.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Fees and Funding

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £14,500.00 per year
Home Student £14,500.00 per year
Island Student £14,500.00 per year
International non-EU Student £23,000.00 per year

Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding

Open Days and Visits

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits


Professional accreditation


MSc Accounting now carries exemptions from both ACCA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) as follows:

ACCA exemptions

F1 Accountant in Business
F2 Management Accounting
F3 Financial Accounting
F4 Corporate and Business Law

CIMA exemptions

BA1 Fundamentals of Business Economics
BA2 Fundamentals of Management Accounting
BA3 Fundamentals of Financial Accounting
BA4 Fundamentals of Ethics, Corporate Governance and Business Law
P1 Management Accounting
F1 Financial Reporting and Taxation

In addition, graduates of MSc Accounting who also have an undergraduate degree majoring in accounting, or those who are part-qualified accountants, can join CIMA via the Master’s gateway route. This route will allow graduates of MSc Accounting to take the CIMA Master’s gateway assessment following which, if successful, CIMA will grant 11 exemptions from CIMA’s certificate, operational and management level exams.

Career Support

Key to your career

Whatever your specialist interests, you’ll find our careers team is one of the most useful resources to support you on your way to your target career. Now more than ever, it’s the skills you’re able to demonstrate in addition to your academic abilities that will make you shine in a fiercely competitive jobs market.

That’s why our facilities and services are designed to complement your course and help you develop essential professional and practical skills – from personal resilience and self-awareness to CV writing and interview techniques.

We work in partnership with the University's Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre to connect you with events, organisations or individuals to help kick-start your career.

One-to-one career support

As a Business School Masters student, you can take advantage of one-to-one appointments with a specialist Masters Career Consultant to help you with specific issues, from finding a route into your career to applying for your dream role.

Career development programme

Our Career Development Programme has been designed alongside our core academic programme to help you achieve your career goals and develop the skills that employers are looking for.

This starts at the beginning of Term One with our Careers Weekend. This weekend will provide insight and enable the development of essential career management skills. Covering a wide range of topics, the event will support career planning, facilitate skills development and enhance your knowledge of the full recruitment cycle. The weekend will be actively focused on identifying, preparing and securing employment opportunities throughout your studies.

Sector specific presentations

Our Career Insights sessions are delivered by external professionals with expertise and knowledge of their particular sector which provide insights into working in areas that are popular with our students.

Previous guest speakers have delivered presentations on working in banking, professional services, and management development programmes within international companies.

Business Projects and Placements

The business project or placement is a great way to gain practical work experience and develop consultancy skills. We can help you choose from a range of regional, national and international organisations of different sizes in different sectors or you can source your own project – some target an organisation they’d like to work for. However you tailor the project, it will help you to put new knowledge and skills into practice and influence real life business issues.

International opportunities

We’re proud of our strong international connections. Helping you get an inside perspective on global business is a key part of the programme. That’s why you’ll have the opportunity to go on the optional International Study Tour to a European destination in March/April. This self-funded, one-week programme is a great way to immerse yourself in the country’s business environment, providing the chance to make new contacts and helping you stand out in the competitive jobs market.

If you are interested in carrying out research or a business project in an international location for your dissertation, we may also be able to connect you with our international partner institutions.

Support for International Students

We recognise that many of our students will progress their careers outside of the UK once they finish their studies, and our career development programme is designed with this in mind. We offer events focused on career opportunities in China and are continually developing relationships with international recruiters.

If you’re an international student interested in working in the UK after your studies, the careers team works closely with Durham University's Student Immigration & Financial Support Office to provide you with information related to immigration. Their advisers are dedicated to helping our students understand the requirements and restrictions of their visas during their studies and can provide limited advice on post-study visa requirements.

You can access English language support from English Language Centre.

Online resources

Through the Career Development Programme you will have access to a huge range of career resources including an interview simulator with a bank of interview questions, a CV builder, and our international Jobs Board.

Alumni career support

You can continue to make the most of our specialist career development advice after you graduate, including on-going one-to-one support from our Masters Career Consultants, workshops in our key locations, and continued access to our online career resources.

Meet the Faculty

Academic excellence

The Business School is a hub for business thinking, with a faculty assembled from a range of international backgrounds. Each of our team brings their own diverse expertise and experience, and have a common drive to share their knowledge and prepare you for success at the highest level.

Meet the Faculty

Core module overviews

Please note: The module content below applies to the current academic year and is intended as an indication only as it may be subject to change in the future.

Accounting Theory

  • 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

Auditing and Assurance Services

  • An introduction to audit and other assurance services
  • Standards, materiality, and risk
  • Audit reports
  • Professional ethics
  • Audit evidences
  • The audit process and detecting fraud
  • Audit sampling
  • Other assurance and attestation services
  • Compliance and internal auditing
  • Auditing for the public sector

Contemporary Issues in Accounting and Taxation

  • Professionalism, reputation and ethics in accounting
  • Narrative disclosures, impression management and communication clarity
  • International accounting and harmonisation of accounting standards
  • Advanced financial risk management techniques and ethical issues in financial management
  • Corporate tax planning and regulatory responses
  • International taxation systems
  • Implications of technological developments on accounting and taxation
  • Research agendas in accounting and taxation

Corporate Governance

  • Corporate governance and the theory of the firm
  • The Board of Directors
  • The rationale for, and impact of, best practice codes for corporate governance
  • Investors and corporate governance
  • Insider ownership and corporate performance
  • Executive and Board remuneration decisions
  • The market for corporate control: theory and evidence
  • Corporate governance and corporate finance: capital structure and investment decisions
  • International aspects of corporate governance

Corporate Reporting

  • Presentation of financial statements
  • Ethical duties of accountants
  • Non-financial, environmental and social reporting
  • Reporting the financial performance of entities (international accounting standards (IAS/IFRS))
  • Financial statements of groups of entities
  • Analysis and interpretation of financial statements

Financial Planning and Control

  • Understanding cost behaviour
  • Strategic planning and short term budgeting
  • Resource allocation and capacity costs and pricing decisions
  • Activity-based costing systems and activity-based management
  • Financial measures of performance, international dimensions and advanced ynvestment appraisal techniques
  • Strategic management accounting and balanced scorecard
  • Incentive measures and performance

Financial Statement Analysis

  • Revision of financial statements
  • Basics of analysis
  • Liquidity of short-term assets; related debt-paying ability
  • Long-term debt-paying ability
  • Profitability
  • Decision-making and statement of cash flows for investors
  • Extended analysis: specific industries
  • Voluntary disclosures
  • Accruals and earnings management.

Research Methods and Methodology in Accounting

  • Accounting research philosophies
  • Methods of accounting research
  • Techniques of critical analysis
  • Accounting research ethics
  • Using programming software for accounting research purposes (e.g. STATA)

What our students think

MSc Accounting one-year full-time

Juilin Zhang

I chose Durham because of its reputation around the world. Msc Accounting is focused on accounting learning which will help me enter the profession.

The course includes accounting skills such as auditing, corporate reporting, financial statement analysis, and business management such as corporate governance. From a broad and basic perspective, we learned accounting theory and business thinking. Other modules covered contemporary issues in accounting such as sustainable reporting and integrated reporting.

I have now joined EY in China, and know that what I have learned and experienced at Durham University will be really useful.

MSc Accounting one-year full-time

Bingqing Fu

I chose to study the MSc Accounting programme at Durham University Business School due to its prestigious reputation and its close connections with the ACCA.

The programme covers both theory and practice. Our sessions were delivered by both academics and senior managers from a number of companies, providing me with an in-depth understanding of accounting from different perspectives.

The School is highly focused on student career and skills development, and the Careers Centre provides a variety of services, including networking with businesses, latest job opportunities and tailored career consultations.

I know my Durham MSc in Accounting will enable me to reach my career goals.

One-year MSc Accounting at Durham University

Mei-yuk Wong

The Durham MSc Accounting programme has not only provided me with a holistic accounting and business education, it has inspired me to focus on my future career. This diverse programme has further developed my knowledge, shown me the most up-to-date international accounting reporting practices, and given me career advice and support. With motivating academic and professional staff across the School, I know I made the right choice to study at Durham.

From September 2018 the University's Accounting, Accounting and Management, Accounting and Finance, and Finance programmes will move from Stockton to Durham. It is possible that some changes will happen later than we currently anticipate, but planning is underway with this date in mind. Find out more.

"The programme covers both theory and practice. Our sessions were delivered by both academics and senior managers from a number of companies, providing me with an in-depth understanding of accounting from different perspectives."

Bingqing Fu
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Professional accreditation - CIMA