Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Accounting Theories in Research and Practice ACCFIN4082

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: Adam Smith Business School
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course provides students with a knowledge of alternative understandings of and a range of accounting theories and seeks to explain the impact and contribution of theory to research and the practice of financial reporting and accounting. The course will help students to understand how accounting theories develop and will provide students with a critical understanding of the different approaches to and components of research in the field of accounting.


One 2-hour workshop for 10 weeks.

Requirements of Entry

Normally a grade D3 or above in Financial Accounting 2 or equivalent.

Excluded Courses






Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will 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. Reassessment opportunities are provided in accordance with School policy as applied to assessed groupwork.

Course Aims

The course aims to explain the role and contribution of theory in accounting research, an understanding of the research process and the role of theory in explaining policies, regulations and practices. In this regard, the course aims to provide students with a detailed understanding of a range of theories, and knowledge of different types of theory and the underpinning methodological assumptions. In exploring and explaining different theories, the course will help students to understand a variety of contemporary accounting, financial and business issues through a theoretical lens and evaluate the contribution of theory to our understanding of such phenomenon. These might include accounting regulation, financial reporting practices, disclosure policies, corporate governance regulations, the role of accounting information in decision making practices and the development of the accounting profession. The course will help students to understand how theories develop and will provide students with a critical overview of the different approaches to research in accounting.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

1. Appraise a range of theoretical perspectives employed in accounting research and distinguish between the different methodological approaches to accounting research;

2. Explain and evaluate the appropriateness of a variety of theories that may help to explain phenomenon in accounting (such as accounting regulation, financial reporting practices, disclosure policies, corporate governance regulations, decision making practices, the development of the profession); 

3. Understand and critique the conceptual differences between normative and positive theories of accounting, inductive and deductive approaches and different epistemological and ontological assumptions underpinning research;

4. Organise and apply academic literature that utilises selected theoretical frameworks and methodologies to critically appraise contrasting opinions and to consider the value of research findings;

5. Search for, and locate, relevant literature in order to write an essay in which research papers are critically evaluated through using independent judgment in deciding the focus of analysis.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits