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MN30508: Contemporary issues in accounting practice

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2012/3
Follow this link for further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: School of Management
Follow this link for further information on credits Credits: 6
Follow this link for further information on unit levels Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Follow this link for further information on period slots Period: Semester 2
Follow this link for further information on unit assessment Assessment: CW 25%, EX 75%
Follow this link for further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment: Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Follow this link for further information on unit rules Requisites: Before taking this unit you must take MN30315 and while taking this unit you must take MN30469
Follow this link for further information on unit content Description: Aims:
To give students an appreciation of the practice of accounting and the influences shaping, and likely to shape in future, the work of accountants, through a critical examination of developments in business practice and broad social/political/economic drivers of change.
As well as drawing together the separate accounting disciplines and broadening the student�s academic perspective on accounting, the course equips students with a practical understanding of the roles of accountants, particularly in audit firms and businesses, in maximising shareholder value through supporting:
* achievement of organisational objectives,
* accountability and assurance to financial and non-financial stakeholders, and
* good governance (including ethical practice),
that will assist their transition to the workplace. In this context, the skills element of the course focuses on those which have been identified as critical in career progression but which are not generally developed by professional training programmes in their early stages, especially communication with non-experts and the ability to identify relevant issues and make well-founded recommendations in relatively complex practical situations.
The content has an international perspective but the focus is on the legal/regulatory position in the UK as a model exhibiting the explicit impact of the above drivers of change.

Learning Outcomes:
On completion of this unit students should be able to:
1. Evaluate the institutional framework governing the demand for and delivery of services provided by professional practitioners in terms of supporting market efficiency and maximising shareholder value by ensuring full accountability to stakeholders, good governance and ethical practice,
2. Identify potential conflicts of interest in accounting and reporting by firms, the relationships between firms and professional service providers and within such service providers, and critically discuss which elements in the institutional framework are relevant to particular conflicts and their potential effectiveness,
3. Critically discuss arguments for broadening the scope of the corporate accounting and reporting regime, methods that have been proposed for implementing such change, and the response of businesses in terms of current practice,
4. Appraise arguments for the development of the role of professional accountants in business and the contribution they can make to the achievement of business objectives, especially in terms of supporting operational and strategic decision-making,
5. Evaluate methods for implementing accounting role change in a business setting with particular reference to organisational design, cross-functional working and skill development methods, and
6. Identify managerial options in the context of practical situations involving one or more of the issues covered in (1) to (5) above, and make relevant recommendations.

Intellectual skills
* Contextualise institutional mechanisms in terms of their contribution to market efficiency and shareholder value (TFA).
* Evaluate arguments for change in the context of a given decision framework (TFA).
* Adopt a critical perspective taking account of possible future developments in assessing practice (TFA).
Professional/Practical Skills
* Analyse practical situations to identify issues of principle and connect them to sources of relevant guidance (TFA).
* Make recommendations balancing the interests of the decision-maker�s organisation, authorities, the practice of peers and other context-dependent considerations (TFA).
* Convey the findings from analysis and make recommendations on accounting-related matters in a non-technical form readily accessible to management (TFA).
Transferable/Key Skills
* Undertake analysis in practical cases involving relevant and irrelevant information (TFA).
* Design practical business communications in a form appropriate to thee audience (TFA).
* Basic exercise of judgement in conditions of uncertainty (FA).

1. Institutional framework: Actors and their roles, markets (for accountants and accounting-related services), legislation and regulation governing reporting and professional practice.
2. Theoretical modelling of audit pricing and empirical research, especially on the influence of non-audit services and market power on audit fees and relationships.
3. Threats to competition and thus audit reliability from market concentration and the risk of firm failure. Responses by the Competition Commission and the European Commission.
4. Principles of corporate governance and the roles of reporting and accounting ethics. Illustration by reference to recent cases of large-scale failure (e.g. Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers) and the current tax management debate.
5. Concepts of accountability beyond historic financial results: forward-looking business information, corporate responsibility reporting and its mechanisms, such as the GRI and the DEFRA guidelines.
6. Theories of voluntary disclosure and empirical research on the determinants of practice in social and environmental reporting and its value relevance.
7. Developments in the role of the accountant in business practice - the "business partner" concept. Distinctive capabilities of the professional accountant and limitations on business integration (the need for independence/objectivity in business as well as professional practice).
8. "Business partnering" in context - the continuing demand for traditional services of the finance function and the roles of shared services and outsourcing. Implications for competence requirements in maximising the accountant�s contribution and career progression.
Follow this link for further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

MN30508 is Optional on the following programmes:

School of Management
  • UMMN-AFB02 : BSc (hons) Accounting and Finance (Full-time) - Year 3
  • UMMN-AKB02 : BSc (hons) Accounting and Finance (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 4
  • UMMN-ANB01 : BSc (hons) Business Administration (Full-time with Thin Sandwich Placements) - Year 4

* This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2012/13 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2013/14 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2012/13.
* Programmes and units are subject to change at any time, in accordance with normal University procedures.
* Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.