Financial Reporting in Capital Markets

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Vasiliki Athanasakou OLD 2.20, Dr Pascal Frantz OLD 3.07, Prof Peter Pope OLD 5.04 and Prof Ane Miren Tamayo OLD 5.05


This course is available on the MSc in Accounting and Finance, MSc in Accounting, Organisations and Institutions and MSc in Law and Accounting. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Other students may be admitted if they have knowledge of financial accounting acquired at undergraduate level, and only with the agreement, in writing, of the MSc (Accounting) Course Tutor. This course cannot be taken in conjunction with AC414 Financial Reporting, Capital Markets and Business Combinations.


The course is capped to three sections of around 55 students; ie, 165 total. Students on the waiting list will be admitted on a first-come first-served basis, although MSc students on the Accounting programmes will be given priority.


Course content

Corporate financial statements are a key source of information about the economic activities of a firm. This course is intended to enhance the student's ability to relate economic events to financial statements and disclosures. It also seeks to aid in developing a coordinated set of concepts and principles to serve as a framework for analysing a wide variety of financial reporting issues. The goal is to enable students to understand the mapping between underlying economic events and the information in financial statements, and how this mapping affects inferences about the economic activities and position of the firm. The course also explores the regulatory environment and political climate, and how these link with the introduction of new standards and their underlying theories. Students are encouraged to relate economic events to diverse practices in financial statements, and to think critically of ongoing controversies and debates.

The course objectives are achieved through teaching a variety of financial reporting issues and topics including the following: standard setting with respect to the conceptual frameworks; accounting for business combinations; accounting for value creation; capital markets efficiency; corporate disclosure; and corporate governance. Most topics are covered from an International Financial Reporting Standards and/or United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles perspective.

The course also covers a number of theoretical perspectives such as deductive approaches, based on the notion of financial accounting as the measurement of economic income and value (including applications to current accounting controversies); economic approaches, regarding corporate financial reporting as an information system, including signalling and disclosure, and studying the demand for and supply of accounting information in a market setting and its stock market impact; and regulatory approaches, examining the nature of and case for and against the regulation of corporate financial reporting. Illustrations are provided on how these theories are used in standard setting and in valuation.

Detailed choice of subjects will be determined by those lecturing on the course and many vary to some extent from year to year. Knowledge of basic accounting is assumed.


30 hours of seminars in the MT and 33 hours of seminars in LT.  Teaching is delivered in a 3-hour session each week. Each session is conducted in groups of about 55 students, often involving case study analyses and group discussions. This mode of teaching requires good advance preparation by the students; hence, every student should be ready to contribute to the discussion when called upon. Active participation is expected and encouraged.

Formative coursework

The lecturers set exercises, essays or case studies for class discussion each week. Many of these involve reading key papers and other writings in the financial accounting literature and illustrating their effects numerically. Four pieces of work, based on these assignments, are collected for formative assessment.

Indicative reading

Detailed reading lists are handed out at the start of the course, and will be largely based on papers in academic journals. Relevant books covering specific parts of the course are: Keith Alfredson, Ruth Picker, Janice Loftus, Kerry Clark, Victoria Wise, Matt Dyki, Applying International Financial Reporting Standards, 2nd edn, Wiley, 2009; Beaver WH, Financial Reporting: An Accounting Revolution, 3rd edn, Prentice-Hall, 1998; Scott W, Financial Accounting Theory, Prentice Hall, 1997; Watts RL & Zimmerman JL, Positive Accounting Theory, Prentice-Hall, 1986; David Alexander, Anne Britton, and Ann Jorissen, International Financial Reporting and Analysis, 5th edn, Thomson.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours and 15 minutes) in the main exam period.

The first 15 minutes is reading time.

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19.7
Merit 36
Pass 32.8
Fail 11.6

Key facts

Department: Accounting

Total students 2014/15: 168

Average class size 2014/15: 19

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 80.8%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)