Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting ACCFIN4017

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: Adam Smith Business School
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course aims to develop students' understanding of the relationship between accounting, accountability, economy and society. Students will study and critique current theory and practices of social accounting, sustainability accounting, and socially responsible investment.


Three hours of lectures per week are proposed with the option to run these as 3 consecutive hours or 2+1 hours per week.

Requirements of Entry

Normally a grade D3 or above in one of the following: Financial Accounting 2; Finance 2; or Management Accounting 2.





Word Length/Duration


Degree examination


2 hours

1 and 2

Group report


3,000 words

The coursework will take the form of a group essay (3,000 words).

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The aim of this course is to develop students' understanding of the relationship between accounting, accountability, economy and society. In so doing the course will provide students with the opportunity to develop their ability to


■ Analyse key trends in the political economy of accounting.

■ Evaluate the research, theory and practice of social accounting, sustainability accounting, social audit, and socially responsible investment.

■ Evaluate emerging trends in social accounting and socially responsible investment, including new possibilities and forms and models of accounting and investment practice, and new regulatory initiatives and developments.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


1. Evaluate critically the foundations and developments in theories and practices of corporate social responsibility, accountability, social and environmental accounting, accounting for sustainability, and socially responsible investment.

2. Evaluate critically the existing practice of social and environmental reporting, reporting on sustainability, community activities, employees and suppliers.

3. Explain and evaluate competing explanations of social and environmental accounting and sustainability reporting practice.

4. Analyse critically the similarities and differences between corporate and NGO models of organisational accountability.

5. Explain the state of existing regulation and critically evaluate the need for new regulation of social and environmental accounting.

6. Critically evaluate the role of audit in relation to social and environmental reporting.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits