Elements of Accounting and Finance

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Saipriya Kamath OLD 2.11, Dr Farooq Mahmood and Dr Elisabetta Bertero OLD M2.13


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Accounting and Finance. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

This is a one-unit course that introduces students to fundamental principles of accounting and finance. The course consists of three parts: financial accounting (for external reporting), management accounting (for internal decision making), and finance (to provide funding).

Financial Accounting: The course starts with a discussion of the framework of financial accounting: its nature, intents and purposes, and the context and environment in which it operates. This includes, and eventually entails, the need for, and various sources of, accounting regulation and “accounting standards”. AC100 also unpacks various core financial accounting concepts and conventions. The course also looks into the processes used to record, summarise, and present financial accounting information as well as, crucially, its interpretation. Thus, and essentially, this part of the course focuses on the preparation, interpretation, and limitations of company financial statements for external reporting, and the regulatory framework in which financial reports are prepared.

Management Accounting: This part of AC100 moves into internal decision making and starts with an introduction to management and cost accounting. This includes the discussion of key concepts of cost calculation and various techniques of costing (such as absorption and variable costing approaches), as well as other alternative costing systems relevant for decision making. The aim is to help students understand how accounting information can help managers to make crucial decisions, such as about the pricing of products or services, or even whether to offer or discontinue a product or service, or whether to expand the product/service range or to invest in new product development. In summary, this part of the course focuses on the basic knowledge of management accounting—specifically, costing.

Finance: The final part of AC100 provides a brief introduction to key concepts in finance and an overview of the financial system. It presents how households and firms approach financial decisions and some techniques to evaluate these decisions. It also discusses what function the financial system plays in an economy.


This course is delivered through a combination of weekly lectures and classes in the Michaelmas, Lent, and Summer terms. Each teaching session contains a variety of technical content and practical exercises. This year, some or all of this teaching may be delivered by a combination of online recorded (asynchronous) lectures and virtual interactive (synchronous) classes as an alternative to face-to-face teaching.

Formative coursework

There will be several online tests (“quizzes”) to test the student’s knowledge and progress on a formative basis for feedback. Written answers to numerical problems and discussion questions will be expected weekly; some of the written work will be collected during classes for marking and feedback. 

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list will be made available on Moodle for each part of the course nearer the time of its scheduled start. Illustrative texts include Atrill, P. and McLaney, E. (2016) Financial Accounting for Decision Makers, 8th edition, Pearson; Atrill, P. and McLaney, E. (2018) Management Accounting for Decision Makers, 9th edition, Pearson; Atrill, P. (2017) Financial Management for Decision Makers, 8th edition, Pearson; Hillier et al (2017) Fundamentals of Corporate Finance, European Edition, McGraw–Hill; and Cecchetti et al (2017) Money, banking and financial markets, McGraw–Hill.


Exam (70%, duration: 3 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.
Class participation (10%) in the MT and LT.
Case analysis (10%) and online assessment (10%) in the LT.

The exam duration is 3 hours and 15 minutes. The first 15 minutes will be reading time.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
First 64.2
2:1 15.9
2:2 8.5
Third 7.3
Fail 4

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Accounting

Total students 2019/20: 114

Average class size 2019/20: 16

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills