AC412      Half Unit
Accountability, Organisations and Risk Management

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Michael Power KSW.3.12 and Dr Tommaso Palermo KSW.3.07


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, Global MSc in Management, Global MSc in Management (CEMS MiM), Global MSc in Management (MBA Exchange), MBA Exchange, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in Accounting and Finance, MSc in Economy, Risk and Society, MSc in Public Administration and Government (LSE and Peking University), MSc in Public Policy and Administration and MSc in Risk and Finance. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Other students may be admitted only with the agreement, in writing, of the MSc (Accounting) Programme Director.

Course content

This is an advanced course focusing on the organisational and institutional settings within which risk is managed.

First, the course explores the intersections of risk and corporate governance, by focusing on the risks that arise at the top management and board of directors level, including risks of misconduct, gatekeeper failure,  performance-insensitive executive pay and non-diverse board composition.  Second, the course deals with key issues in organisational responses to risk and uncertainty, including the impact of disasters and accidents,  and the growing formalisation and standardisation of risk management practice and the increasing emphasis on resilience.

The overall purpose of the course is to provide students with a critical appreciation of the management of risk as an organisational and social process. The course is necessarily cross-disciplinary, drawing on scholarship within accounting, organisational sociology and regulation studies. The course content is updated yearly to reflect topics of contemporary relevance. Recent examples are risk culture in the financial sector, safety culture in aviation, cybersecurity risks and responses to pandemic crisis.

This course is recommended for students who wish to develop the critical-thinking skills to make strategic decisions about risks, uncertainty and corporate governance, especially those targeting roles in consulting, business management or regulatory agencies. It is equally applicable to develop the skills needed for further academic studies in different areas of the social sciences such as accounting, management, sociology, public administration.


30 hours of seminars in the LT.

This course has a reading week in Week 6 of LT.

Formative coursework

Two pieces of written work will be assessed during the term. The grades for this work will not count towards the overall course assessment.

Indicative reading

No single book covers the entire course. Key readings include: Bebchuk & Fried, Pay Without Performance (Harvard, 2004); Coffee, Gatekeepers: The Professions and Corporate Governance (Oxford, 2006); Hutter & Power (eds) Organizational Encounters with Risk, (Cambridge, 2005); Power, Organized Uncertainty: Designing a World of Risk Management (Oxford, 2007); Vaughan, The Challenger Launch Decision, (Chicago, 1997); Short & Clarke (eds) Organizations, Uncertainties and Risks (Westview, 1992); Weick & Sutcliffe, Managing the Unexpected: Assuring High Performance in an Age of Complexity (Jossey-Bass, 2007). Power, Riskwork: Essays on the Organizational Life of Risk Management, (Oxford, 2016).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 25.8
Merit 43.3
Pass 27.5
Fail 3.3

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: 55

Average class size 2019/20: 53

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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