Accounting, Organisations and Institutions

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Michael Power KSW 3.12 (MT), Dr Andrea Mennicken KSW 3.09 (LT), Dr Alexa Scherf OLD 3.12 (LT)


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 accounting pre-requisites.  This course does not require a background in accounting and both the programme and this course are open to accounting 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 and 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 scholarship  and case materials which show  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 in different jurisdictions. The role of accountants and other agents involved in the production and consumption of accounting numbers will also be addressed.

The course will equip students to understand the inter-relations between technical, organisational and institutional issues. While some technical accounting knowledge may be helpful, it is not essential and each lecture will provide the necessary technical foundations.

Indicative topics include:

Foundations: Reporting, Calculation and Transparency; Quantification and Measurement; 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; Accounting Standardisation and Harmonization; the Political Economy of Financial Reporting and Standard Setting; Accounting and Development; the Roles of Accounting in Global Financial Governance; Political, Institutional and Economic Influences in Changing National and International Financial Reporting Frameworks; Consequences of International Accounting Harmonization for Financial Statement Users, Business Entities and Wider Local and Global Stakeholders.


Teaching will be delivered in the form of two weekly 90-minute sessions over 11 weeks across both Michaelmas and Lent Terms. Each session contains a variety of technical content, practical exercises, and case analyses. This year, some or all of this teaching may be delivered using virtual classes as an alternative to face-to-face teaching.

This course has a reading and feedback week in Week 6 of both MT and LT so there is 30 hours of teaching per term.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to produce two pieces of written work in MT and one group presentation in LT. These formative assignments 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); Botzem, The Politics of Accounting Regulation (Edward Elgar, 2012); Ramanna, Political Standards: Corporate Interest, Ideology and Leadership in the Shaping of Accounting Rules for the Market Economy (University of Chicago Press, 2015); Nobes & Parker, Comparative International Accounting (Pearson, 2020); Weetman & Tsalavoutas (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Accounting in Emerging Economies (Routledge, 2020).


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

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.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 31.4
Merit 40.7
Pass 22.9
Fail 5

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, whether or not you have already studied accounting. You will come away from the course with a different understanding of what accounting is and what it can do. We consistently receive positive feedback from students after they have left LSE; they find the critical perspective of the course/programme valuable in their later careers. The course is taught by a variety of faculty members on topics that relate to their core areas of expertise.  Students enjoy being part of a small cohort who get to know each other and have good contact with, and feedback from, faculty. In addition, there is a lively alumni network.

I was very pleased with high standard of performance in the 2019 AC424 examination and the quality of long essays continues to be very high.  A report on how students addressed each exam question is available with generic feedback and observations.

I continue to explore ways to innovate the teaching materials in order to remain relevant.  For example, in 2018/19 there was a new seminar on blockchain and auditing.

I would like to emphasise that students with social science, humanities or law backgrounds are very welcome to apply for this course/programme.  

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: 58

Average class size 2020/21: 59

Controlled access 2020/21: 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