Accounting, Organisations and Institutions

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Michael Power KSW 3.12


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Accounting, Organisations and Institutions. This course is not available as an outside option.

This course is not available to other students except in special circumstances and with the written permission of the Course Director.


There are no specific pre-requisites.  The  course does not require a background in accounting and the programme and core course are open to specialists and non-specialists alike. Pre-sessional training in the form of various intensive sessions prior to the start of term will be offered for those who need a brief 'technical' preparation for the Progamme.

Course content

The objective of the course is to provide students with an advanced, social science based critical understanding of the changing role and position of accounting practices in organisations, both public and private, and in societies more generally. Students will be exposed to advanced thinking and case materials about how accounting practices are more than a collection of routine self-evident techniques but are shaped by their institutional contexts, have behavioural consequences and can represent different values. We will focus on how the fundamental assumptions of  internal and external accounting practices are institutional in nature and are  shaped by social and political aspirations. The role of accountants and other agents involved in the production and consumption of accounting numbers will also be addressed.

The course will emphasise 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: Reporting, Calculation and Transparency; The Users of Accounting; Accounting and the Notion of "Entity"; Audit and Assurance: The Audit Society; Organisational Boundaries, Structure and Control; Accountability, Incentives and Performance; Accounting for Sustainability; Organisational Failure. Risk Management, Accountability and Corporate Governance;-Disasters, Accidents and Errors; Organisations and the Management of Uncertainty; The Risk Management Process; Mapping and Communicating Risk in Organisations; Organisations, Security and Resilience; Corporate Governance: Board Functioning, Gatekeepers, Executive Compensation, Regulation.


30 hours of seminars and 2 hours of workshops in the MT. 30 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

This course has a reading and feedback week in Week 6 of both MT and LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to produce two pieces of written work per term. This may take the form of either an essay, or the analysis of a case, and may also include in-class presentation 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); Power, Organized Uncertainty: Designing a World of Risk Management (Oxford, 2007); Hutter & Power (eds.), Organizational Encounters with Risk (Cambridge, 2005);Coffee, Gatekeepers: The Professions and Corporate Governance (Oxford, 2006); Bebchuk & Fried, Pay Without Performance (Harvard, 2004); Power, Riskwork: Essays on the Organizational Life of Risk Management (Oxford, 2016)


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (50%, 6000 words) in the ST.

This is a Long Essay which will be due early in the ST.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 26.7
Merit 46.6
Pass 15.8
Fail 11

Teachers' comment

AC424 is the core course for students on the MSc Accounting, Organisations and Institutions programme. It will introduce you to new perspectives on accounting that are likely to be challenging and provocative - you will come away from the course with a different understanding of what accounting is and what it can do. The course is taught by a variety of faculty members on topics that relate to their core areas of expertise. 

Key facts

Department: Accounting

Total students 2018/19: 44

Average class size 2018/19: 44

Controlled access 2018/19: No

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