AC341      Half Unit
Corporate Governance, Risk Management and Financial Audit

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Julia Morley OLD.3.09


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

What constrains the behaviour of profit-seeking corporations? What are the regulations that seek to prevent corporate disasters? This course attempts to answer these questions by critically examining the institutional and legal landscape of governance and accountability in which corporations operate. It takes students on a deep dive into the day-to-day practices of those charged with financial control and risk management within the organization. In addressing the financial accountability of corporations to their external stakeholders, the course critically evaluates the theory and practice of external financial audit, highlighting the structure of the market for audit, the practices of audit firms and the limits to the effectiveness of audit.

Some of the questions we will be asking are:

  • How do organizations try to control operational and financial risk?
  • What do studies about corporate disasters tell us about risk management? (e.g., the cases of Challenger and Boeing 737 Max)
  • To what extent does current risk management address global phenomena such as pandemics?
  • What does a chief risk officer really do and why?
  • Given recent financial collapses (e.g. Carillion), what’s the point in corporate financial audit?
  • How should auditors respond if the viability of many businesses is uncertain (e.g. as a result of Covid-19)?
  • How might technology disrupt the market for risk management and corporate financial audit?

The course will critically evaluate academic studies and practitioner guidance to establish the “rules of the game” for corporate governance and accountability, but will also examine media coverage of corporate governance and auditing. Senior practitioners will speak to students during the course, offering insights into the practice of risk management and auditing. It should be noted that the course is grounded in the social sciences – it does not provide practical training in the application of risk management or auditing techniques and is not recognised for exemptions by the professional accountancy bodies.


Teaching is delivered in weekly seminars over 10 weeks across Michaelmas Term. Pre-recorded weekly lectures will introduce students to the core materials and readings for each topic.  Seminars will contain a variety of concept-focused content, practical exercises, and case analyses. This year, some or all of the seminar teaching may be delivered using virtual sessions as an alternative to face-to-face teaching due to social-distancing or other pandemic-related restrictions that may need to be observed. There will be no teaching during reading week (Week 6).

Formative coursework

Students will submit one 1,000-word essay in week 5 on which they will receive written feedback.

Indicative reading

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

  • Andersen (2019). The Routledge Companion to Strategic Risk Management (Routledge Companions in Business, Management and Accounting).
  • Power (2016). Riskwork: Essays on the Organizational Life of Risk Management. Oxford University Press.
  • Gray, Manson & Crawford (2019). The Audit Process: Principles, Practice and Cases (Cengage 7th Edition).
  • Power (1999). The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification. Oxford University Press.

Students will also be provided with relevant examples of corporate and other reports and referred to relevant websites.

Detailed course programmes and reading lists will be distributed at the beginning of the course.


Project (40%) in the MT Week 11.
Take-home assessment (60%) in the MT.

The details of the assignment and project will be made available on Moodle nearer the scheduled start time of the course.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 116

Average class size 2020/21: 59

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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