AC502      Half Unit
Foundations of Accounting, Organisations and Institutions

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Michael Power KSW 3.12 and Dr Andrea Mennicken KSW 3.09


This course is compulsory on the MRes/PhD in Accounting (AOI) (Accounting, Organisations and Institutions Track). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is also offered for students from other MPhil/PhD or MRes/PhD programmes, with the approval and written permission of the PhD in Accounting Programme Director (Accounting, Organisations and Institutions Track).

Course content

The object of the course is to provide students with exposure to advanced analyses of the accounting process within and between organisations, both public and private, and across societies more generally. Students will be required to engage with studies of accounting practices to understand how they are shaped by their institutional contexts, have behavioural consequences and can represent different values. The course will focus on how efforts to design internal and external accounting practices are both a function of specific economic and political interests, but are also shaped by social and political aspirations. The role of accountants and other agents of accounting processes will be addressed.

Overall, the course is intended to cultivate an understanding of the inter-relations between technical, organisational and institutional issues. While some technical accounting knowledge will be helpful, it is not essential and each seminar will provide the necessary technical foundations.

Indicative topics include:

Foundations of Reporting, Calculation and Disclosure; Transnational Regulation and Standardisation; Accounting and the Notion of "Entity"; Audit and Assurance: The Audit Society; Organisational Boundaries, Structure and Control; Performance, Accountability Incentives; Accounting for Sustainability; Organisational Failure as a Process.


10, 3-hour seminars in weeks 1-10 of MT and a 2-hour essay workshop in week 11 of MT.

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 week in Week 6 of MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to produce two pieces of written work. This may take the form of either an essay, or the analysis of a case, and may also include in-class presentations 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;  Mennicken & Espeland, “What’s new with numbers” Annual Review of Sociology (2019); Power, Modelling the microfoundations of the audit society: Organizations and the logic of the audit trail. Academy of Management Review (2019).


Essay (100%, 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.

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: 2

Average class size 2020/21: 2

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness