Foundations of Accounting, Organizations and Institutions

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Michael Power KSW 3.12


This course is compulsory on the MPhil/PhD in Accounting (Track 1). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is also offered for students from other MPhil/PhD programmes, with the approval and written permission of the PhD in Accounting Programme Director.

Course content

The object of the course is to provide students with an advanced understanding of the changing role and position of accounting practices in organisations, both public and private, and societies more generally. Students will be exposed to advanced thinking about how accounting practices are much more than a collection of routine techniques but are shaped by their institutional contexts, have behavioural consequences and can represent different values. We will focus on how efforts to design internal and external accounting practices are both a function of specific economic and political interests, but are also shaped by social and political aspirations. The role of accountants and other agents will be addressed.

The course emphasises the inter-relations between technical, organisational and institutional issues. While some technical accounting knowledge will be helpful, it is not essential and each lecture will provide the necessary technical foundations.

Indicative topics include:

Foundations of Reporting, Calculation and Disclosure; Transnational Regulation and Standardisation; Accounting and the Notion of "Entity"; Audit and Assurance: The Audit Society; Organisational Boundaries, Structure and Control; Performance, Accountability Incentives; Accounting for Sustainability; Organisational Failure as a Process.


10, 3-hour seminars in weeks 1-10 of MT and a 2-hour essay workshop in week 11 of MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to produce two pieces of written work. This may take the form of either an essay, or the analysis of a case, and may also include in-class presentations and team-based work. This work will be assessed, but the grades will not count towards the overall course assessment.

Indicative reading

Chapman, Cooper & Miller (eds), Accounting, Organizations and Institutions (Oxford, 2009); Hopwood & Miller (eds), Accounting as Social and Institutional Practice, Cambridge, 1994; Power, The Audit Society, Oxford, 1999; Roberts, The Modern Firm, Oxford, 2004.


Essay (100%, 6000 words) in the ST.

MPhil/PhD in Accounting students must pass the course examination, normally with high Merit (at least 65%) or Distinction marks, to proceed to the next year of the programme.

Key facts

Department: Accounting

Total students 2015/16: 1

Average class size 2015/16: 1

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness