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Durham University

Postgraduate Modules 2019/2020

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run in each academic year. Each module description relates to the year indicated in the module availability box. Please be aware that modules may change from year to year, and may be amended to take account of, for example: changing staff expertise, disciplinary developments, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback.

Department: Economics and Finance

ECON48315: Accounting Theory

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20
Tied to L1T509 Accounting
Tied to N3K209 Finance (Accounting and Finance)


  • 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
  • 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 this 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
  • 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 written examination will test students' knowledge and understanding of the material covered in the module, their critical evaluation and analytical skills.

Teaching Methods and Contact 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 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

    If you have a question about Durham's modular degree programmes, please visit our User Guide. If you have a question about modular programmes that is not covered by the User Guide, or a query about the Postgraduate Module Handbook, please contact us using the Comments and Questions form below.