Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2018/2019

Accounting and Finance

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by: Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), Association of Chartered Certificated Accountants (ACCA), the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA); the Association of International Accountants (AIA).

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) Full Accreditation European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS)

Final award: MA Honours
Programme title: Accounting and Finance
UCAS code: NN43
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Business and Management
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: Dr Inger Seiferheld
Date of production/revision: August 2017

External summary

A degree which combines the study of accountancy and finance provides an extremely strong platform to build a career within or outside the commercial world.  Accountants play a crucial role in business. Their ability to measure financial information and make projections affects economic decision-making at all levels. Financial accountants report on the performance of an organisation, and management accountants provide financial information to help with planning and strategy. Accountancy is the fastest growing area of business activity. Equally the world of finance is a crucial aspect of contemporary business. This degree therefore offers a thorough understanding of both these core disciplines.

The MA Accounting and Finance is a popular joint-degree, in particular for students planning to take accountancy qualifications following graduation. Courses on this programme provide partial exemption from institute qualifying examinations, and the degree is fully accredited. The learning outcomes are complementary, in terms both of the knowledge base, such as interpreting accounting numbers, and transferable skills, such as computer proficiency, reporting and presenting.  In first year students study economics to lay the foundation for an understanding of macro and microeconomic issues.  A range of compulsory and optional courses examine accounting and finance issues in the context of businesses and other types of organisation, including, charities, voluntary organisations and the public sector. All students have the option of studying abroad in the third year at one of our international partner institutions.

Students gain specific accounting and finance knowledge, an understanding of the business world and develop a range of transferable, intellectual and study skills which are appropriate not only for those aspiring to a career in accountancy or finance but also managerial and other roles within business and other organisational settings.

Educational aims of programme

The educational aim of the MA Honours in Accounting and Finance programme is to:

  • provide students with knowledge and understanding of accounting and finance theory and practice to meet some of the accreditation requirements of the professional accounting bodies.
  • encourage students to identify problems (and suggest solutions) in the provision of financial information  in a variety of managerial decision scenarios.
  • provide students with knowledge and understanding of some of the contexts in which accounting and finance disciplines operate e.g. the legal and social environment, the accountancy profession, the business entity, and the capital markets.
  • equip students with the necessary practical, area-specific intellectual skills, such as analysis, problem-solving and reasoning, to enable them independently to achieve an understanding of accounting problems, deal with complexity, explore alternative solutions, demonstrate critical evaluation and integrate theory and practice.
  • develop students’ skills so that they can question financial management practice in a balanced manner through identifying alternatives and evaluating shortcomings as well as strengths.
  • develop general transferable intellectual and study skills which will equip graduates to make a valuable contribution both within their chosen career path and in the wider community and to encourage a positive attitude to continuing development and lifelong learning.
  • give students the opportunity to develop communication skills in the presentation and interpretation of complex quantitative and qualitative information.
  • foster the ethical responsibilities essential for professional work.
  • provide a sound basis for subsequent academic or professional qualification in accounting and/or finance.
  • develop the creative, reflective, self-aware and resilient qualities that will be of value to students throughout their working lives and encourage them to have a positive attitude to lifelong learning.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

The programme aims to allow students to analyse financial statements and to show the links between accounting statements, valuation methods and investment analysis.  Students will develop knowledge and understanding of:

  • the legal, business and social environments in which accounting operates.
  • the main current technical language and practices of accounting (e.g. measurement and disclosure in financial statements, managerial accounting; financial accounting, auditing, business law) in a market economy.
  • some of the alternative technical languages and practices of accounting and finance (e.g. alternative managerial accounting approaches to decision-making and alternative recognition rules and valuation bases).
  • approaches to recording and summarising transactions and other economic events; preparation of financial statements; analysis of the operations of business (e.g. decision analysis, performance measurement and management control); financial analysis and projections (e.g. analysis of financial ratios, discounted cash flow analysis and budgeting).
  • a range of contemporary theories and empirical evidence in the areas studied, and the ability to evaluate critically such theories and evidence.
  • global financial markets and the finance and investment industry – how different organisations interact, their roles, and factors behind success or failure.
  • how to estimate the fair value for an investment, to test assumptions and sensitivities, and to compare different investments.
  • the role of different asset classes, their behaviour in isolation and in relation to other asset classes, and an understanding of how portfolios of investments can be constructed and analysed.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

Accounting and Finance graduates will be able to:

  • understand the principles, methods, standards, values and boundaries of the accounting and finance disciplines and have the capacity to question these.
  • assess critically existing understanding about a range of areas within the field of accounting and finance and recognise the need to re-evaluate such knowledge and the limitations of their own knowledge.
  •  identify, define and analyse theoretical and applied accounting and finance problems and identify or develop approaches using appropriate quantitative or qualitative techniques to explore and solve them.
  • search for, evaluate and use information to form the basis of effective knowledge assimilation and synthesis within a number of accounting and finance areas, recognising limitations resulting from the chosen approach.
  • use practical and theoretical knowledge to both design and undertake a piece of original research and write this up as a dissertation

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

Accounting and Finance graduates will be:

  • independent learners who take responsibility for their own learning across a range of chosen areas of study, both within and outside business, and are committed to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement.
  • open to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking about issues.
  • able to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought, taking into account ethical and professional issues.
  • able to collaborate and debate effectively to test, modify and strengthen their own views.
  • curious intellectually and able to sustain intellectual interest, through individual and group work assignments, in particular during the research and writing process associated with the dissertation.
  • aware of, and able to select and effectively use appropriate business data, information sources and research methodologies to carry out research into business and management issues for projects, dissertations and presentations, either individually or as part of a team.
  • able to develop and work towards a personal vision and goals and being able to work independently towards these in a sustainable way.
  • equipped with numeracy and quantitative skills, particularly the ability to manipulate financial, statistical and other numerical data.
  • able to demonstrate skills in analysis and synthesis, particularly the ability to make reasoned inferences from structured data.
  • able to exercise independent thought and judgement.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

Accounting and Finance graduates will be able to:

  • apply written, oral and visual presentation skills in individual or group projects as well as through presentations linked to lecture courses both within and outside accounting and finance.
  • communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, using a range of media which are widely used in business.
  • make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, negotiate, create and communicate understanding during individual and group activities.
  • use communication as a tool for collaborating and relating to others in a range of settings, including lectures, workshops/tutorial and group project settings, listening to colleagues, constructing arguments, thinking on feet and convincing others.
  • further their own learning through effective use of the full range of communication approaches.
  • seek and value open feedback from academic and support staff, as well as peers, to inform genuine self-awareness.
  • use effective communication to articulate positively their skills identified through self-reflection.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

Accounting and Finance graduates will be able to:

  • reflect upon themselves to recognise their personal strengths and the situations where they can best be applied.
  • identify opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge in key areas and recognise how and where to gain experience to build personal capabilities.
  • identify, seek out or otherwise create and harness opportunities in a range of areas relevant to their studies within and outside business.
  • manage tasks and skills in time-management.
  • be confident to make decisions based upon their assimilated understandings and their personal and intellectual autonomy.
  • transfer their knowledge, learning, skills and abilities from one context to another, using their understanding of the issues relevant and appropriate to each situation.
  • work effectively with others, capitalising on their different thinking, contrasting experience and complementary skills.
  • work with, manage, and lead others in ways which value difference and equality and which encourage their contribution to the organisation and the wider community.

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

On completion of the programme, (if they so wish) students of the MA in Accounting and Finance will be able to embark on professional training in accounting and/or finance at a more advanced level than if a vocationally-oriented degree had not been taken. Students will also be equipped to:

  • analyse and make reasoned inferences from financial statements and other numerically-based management information systems.
  • correctly identify the resources necessary to the solution of a business problem.
  • be able to use quantitative information as a basis for management decision-making.
  • communicate with users of financial and statistical information and also increase unsophisticated users’ understanding through being able to interpret and synthesise such data.
  • communicate with clients concerning the role and responsibilities of accountants, auditors and management consultants.
  • make knowledgeable contributions to discussions on theories and empirical evidence in finance and accounting.
  • apply theoretical and conceptual knowledge to practical situations.
  • make effective use  of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for business applications.

Programme structure and features

The MA Accounting and Finance degree is an Honours degree taken over four years. It consists of two years of pre-Honours courses totalling 240 credits at SQCF level 8 and two years of Honours courses totalling 240 credits at SQCF level 10. The structure for each year is as follows:

  • 1st year: compulsory courses in Global Challenges for Business (20 credits), The Business of Edinburgh (20 credits), Introduction to Financial Markets (20 credits), Accountancy 1A (20 credits) and Accountancy 1B (20 credits) and Economic principles (20 credits).
  • 2nd year: compulsory courses in Business Research Methods I: Introduction to Data Analysis (20 credits), Introduction to Corporate Finance (20 credits), Accountancy 2A (20 credits), Accountancy 2B (20 credits); Business Law (20 credits); one further 20 credit course in Business Studies (20 credits) from a choice of two (Business Analytics and Information Systems or Applications of Finance); one compulsory non-credit bearing course, Career Development Planning (0 credits).
  • 3rd year: compulsory course in Business Research Methods II: Applications and Analysis (20 credits), Investment and Securities Markets (20 credits) Advanced Financial Accounting (20 credits), Auditing (20 credits) and Management Accounting Applications (20 credits); and one Finance/Management Science course from a choice of courses (20 credits) as specified in the Degree Programme Table (DPT) for the degree; one compulsory non-credit bearing course, Research in Management (0 credits) to support preparation of the Dissertation.
  • 4th year: Management Honours Dissertation (40 credits) and course in Corporate Finance (20 credits); one Finance/Management Science course from a choice of courses (20 credits) and two Accounting courses from a choice of courses (40 credits) as specified in the DPT for the degree.

For full details of the degree programme and structure see the Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study  http://www.drps.ed.ac.uk

For details of the entry requirements see http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/undergraduate/applications-admissions/entry-requirements

Progression requirements for entry into Honours (3rd year):

Entry into third year honours normally requires (i) passes in all courses (240 credits) in the first two years, (ii) a mark of 50% or above at the first attempt in Introduction to Corporate Finance and a mark of 50% or above at the first attempt in either Business Analytics and Information Systems or Applications of Finance in second year, and (iii) a pass in each of Accountancy 2A and Accountancy 2B and an average of 50% in both at the first attempt.

For full details of the learning outcomes and assessment practices for each course see the Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study  http://www.drps.ed.ac.uk. More detailed information on course content is provided in course handbooks which are distributed at the start of each course. In addition to the individual course handbooks, the DRPS publishes details of 2nd year courses and Honours to assist students in their course choices. A Dissertation handbook is also published each year.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and learning strategies employed within the Business School and in other School where students take courses outside the business area, embrace of a variety of different methods appropriate to the programme aims. The graduate attributes listed above are met through a teaching and learning framework (detailed below) which is appropriate to the level and content of the course.

  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Lectures Yes Yes Yes Yes
Computer laboratories Yes Depends on choice of option courses Yes  
Workshops Yes      
Tutorials Yes Yes    
Problem-based learning activities Yes Yes Yes Yes
Independent study Yes Yes Yes Yes
Peer group learning Yes Yes Yes Yes
poster presentation Yes      
Group projects Yes Yes Yes Yes
One-to-one meetings with course lecturers/tutors/Personal Tutors Yes Yes Yes Yes
Independent research for the Honours dissertation research     Yes Yes

Facilities within the School

  • Information technology and other computer-based sessions are delivered in the Business School’s IT Teaching Lab at 29 Buccleuch Place.  The lab is equipped with 60 networked PCs which provide access to an extensive range of software packages and applications to support learning through teaching and independent study.

Non-Teaching Weeks Semester 1: Mon 23rd October – Friday 27th October 2017. Semester 2: Mon 19th to Friday 23rd February 2018

#make your mark During the semester 1 non-teaching week, the Business School will be running #makeyourmark - https://www.business-school.ed.ac.uk/makeyourmark/. A non-curricula event, #make your mark is run by University of Edinburgh Business School as part of its mission is to develop responsible leaders. It is a team based social enterprise challenge (spread over 2.5 days – Tues 24th-Thurs 26th Oct 2017) which aims to inspire students to view business as part of the solution to addressing today’s global challenges.

Students will work in groups (with students from the Business School and beyond) and are challenged over 2.5 days to develop their social enterprise business ideas which help to tackle inequalities and transform local communities. With #makeyourmark, we aim to contribute to Scotland’s leading role in social enterprise, research and innovation and is supported by a wide variety of corporate and social enterprise partners. Find out more about #makeyourmark 2016/2017 from the students who participated - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbcxhdwdeAM&feature=youtu.be

Festival of Creating Learning http://www.festivalofcreativelearning.ed.ac.uk

The University of Edinburgh’s Festival of Creative Learning will include a programme of events and activities running throughout the academic year, together with a week-long programme of events in February 2018 (Semester 2 - Week 6; 19 – 23 February 2018). During this week ‘normal’ teaching is suspended which provides space for staff and students to explore new learning activities outwith and complementary to the regular curriculum.

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 126740
Year 221790
Year 315850
Year 410900

Assessment methods and strategies

Courses can be assessed by a diverse range of methods and often take the form of formative work which provides the student with on-going feedback as well as summative assessment. The most common methods of assessment are identified in the table below.  A very small number of courses are assessed using only a single, written examination or coursework assignment: most courses employ two or more different forms of assessment, and a growing number combine both individual and group-based activities to develop both subject-specific knowledge and subject-specific and transferable skills.

  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Written Examinations (seen and unseen) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Essays Yes Yes Yes Yes
Group/individual project Yes Yes Yes Yes
In-class Tests Depends on choice of option courses      
On-line class tests Depends on choice of option courses Depends on choice of option courses    
Poster presentations Yes      
Oral presentations   Yes Yes Yes
Dissertation     Yes Yes

The classification of the Honours degree is based on performance in both of the Honours years (3rd year and 4th year), unless the third year is spent studying at an overseas partner institution, when the degree classification is based on performance in the final Honours 4th year only.

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 164036
Year 280020
Year 366232
Year 445451

Career opportunities

A key aim of our degrees is to combine academic knowledge with transferable skills and competencies in order to enhance employability. Graduates with knowledge and skills in accounting and finance are highly valued by employers across the world and the employment record of graduates of the School is evidence that graduates from our programmes are highly sought after by a wide range of employers particularly those from within the accounting profession. Our graduates also secure employment in a diverse range of other fields such as investment banking, financial analysis and consulting.

During the second year of the programme all students take the Career Development Planning course which encourages early thinking about possible career paths ensuring there is ample time to reflect on how best to develop appropriate knowledge, skills and experience to maximise the likelihood of securing employment in the chosen field.

Other items

  • All students on the programme are allocated a Personal Tutor, whose role is to provide advice and guidance on academic and personal matters.
  • All students have e-mail, which facilitates easy communication with academic and administrative staff.  Generous office-hour provision allows easy personal contact with teaching staff outside formal classes. We encourage all our students to regularly check their University of Edinburgh email address.
  • Opportunities are available to study abroad in the 3rd year on a Business School exchange or University exchange at a partner university Business School; the Business School currently has around 50 exchange partners in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia.
  • First year students participate in an induction programme in Welcome Week for general orientation and introduction to study skills and learning resources. All students are invited to a School induction event at the beginning of the academic year.
  • Peer-Assisted Learning scheme (PALs): 1st year students are encouraged to take advantage of the School’s BizPAL scheme which consists of student leaders (usuually senior students) who are trained to support and facilitate study sessions for those is earlier years. The BizPALs leaders plan a number of peer-facilitated activities to develop autonomous and enquiry-based learning and encourage students to maximise their academic potential.
  • Library, IT, computing and study-skills information packs, backed up by extensive advice and guidance on-line and in general.
  • All students are provided with e-learning and course materials via Learn.
  • In addition to the School’s IT Teaching Lab there are extensive library and related IT and data resources in the nearby University Library.  Additional computing resources are available in extensive open access labs run by the University Computing Service, located in the Central Area as well as at the Pollock Halls of Residence.
  • • University support services include the Advice Place (run by the Students’ Association), the Student Counselling Service, Chaplaincy Centre, the Student Disability Service, Accommodation Services, Edinburgh Global and the Student Employment Service.
  • Active student societies including: the Business Society BizSoc; AIESEC (an international business society); the Student Industrial Society; the Trading and Investment Club (EUTIC) and the Entrepreneurship Club.
  • Careers advice is provided by the University Careers Service; the School runs a compulsory course Career Development Planning in Year 2 of the programme.