Not available in 2020/21
AC342      Half Unit
Accounting, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Pik Kun Liew OLD.3.34


This course is available on the BSc in Accounting and Finance, BSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics, BSc in Economics and Diploma in Accounting and Finance. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course seeks to provide an introduction to the key issues that are emerging on the ‘extended’ role of accounting in society. AC342 considers the broader accountability framework of businesses, and related environmental and social accounting issues. Major concepts and practices relating to sustainability and societal responsibility such as the “triple-bottom-line” considerations of financial viability, environmental accountability and social responsibility, will be discussed and critically assessed. The course also examines the complexities that characterise the relationships between accounting, organisations and society, and between shareholders and a wide range of stakeholders. The course takes a broad approach to the role of accounting and provides students with valuable insights, aided by real-life examples and case studies, on the issues of organisational sustainability and (corporate) social responsibility.

The course aims to develop students’ knowledge of the relationships between accounting and society. Specifically, and crucially, it aims to provide students with critical awareness of the accountabilities and responsibilities of organisations and those involved in their viability and legitimacy, either as managers or investors, regulators or overseers, and the role of accounting in securing such accountability and responsibility.


30 hours of seminars in the LT.

Comprising 10 weeks of twice-weekly 1.5 hour sessions.  There will be a reading week in week 6. 

Formative coursework

The course invites students to critically reflect on recent developments in the field of corporate responsibility and sustainability accounting and comment on the correlated documents such as corporate reports and programmes, press releases, experts’ opinions. Some issues are tackled through case studies. 

Students are expected to contribute to discussions in each session.

Indicative reading

No one book covers the entire syllabus. In addition to professional and academic journals, reading will cover the following:

  • Bebbington, J., Unerman, J. and O’Dwyer, B. (2014) Sustainability Accounting and Accountability (2nd ed.), Routledge;
  • Bellucci, M. and Manetti, G. (2018) Stakeholder Engagement and Sustainability Reporting (Finance, Governance and Sustainability), Routledge;
  • Henriques, A. (2007) Corporate Truth: The Limits to Transparency, Earthscan, Taylor & Francis;
  • Hopwood, A., Unerman, J. and Fries, J. (2010) Accounting for Sustainability: Practical Insights, Earthscan;
  • Rendtorff, J.D. (2019) Philosophy of Management and Sustainability: Rethinking Business Ethics and Social Responsibility in Sustainable Development, Routledge.

Students will also be referred to relevant examples of corporate and other reports, and websites. Detailed course programmes and reading lists will be distributed at the first lecture of the course.


Project (30%), project (60%) and class participation (10%).

Assessment consists of three components:

  • Course participation and engagement: this will be assessed based on students’ engagement with course activities, including for example in-class discussions and class assignments.
  • Two individual projects: one to be submitted during the Lent Term, and the other during the week before the start of Summer Term.

Further details of all aspects of assessment and coursework, as well as feedback, will be made available on Moodle nearer the scheduled start time of the course and will be updated as the course progresses with specific instructions, guidance, and feedback.

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: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills