University of Chester

Programme Specification
Accounting with Finance Master of Science MSc
2014 - 2015

Master of Science

Accounting with Finance Master of Science

Accounting with Finance Master of Science

University of Chester

Independent Colleges Dublin

Dublin

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

6 Years

Annual - January

No

17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Business and Management Business and Finance

QAA's Benchmark statements for Master's awards in Accounting

QAA's Benchmark statements for Master's awards in Finance

MSc in Accounting with Finance Assessment Board

Thursday 1st September 2011

Provide or reinforce a comprehensive educational framework covering the requirements and operation of the accounting and finance functions in business organisations, and the major changes taking place in their theory and practice.

Communicate to students the understanding and skills necessary for the effective management of these two important functional areas, and  their integral role in management decision-making.

Enable prospective or qualified accounting practitioners to acquire a master's level theoretical understanding of the underpinnings of the accounting and finance functions.

 


Knowledge and Understanding

Understand, and critically comprehend, the underpinning of the finance and accounting functions, their historical origins, developments, application and limitations
Develop advanced critical competencies in analysing the contexts in which finance and accounting are practiced
Identify the appropriate methods and skills necessary to carry out all areas of finance and accounting practice
Have an enhanced awareness of the roles and responsibilities of the accountant and the finance manager
Understand the nature and role of accounting standards, and the major developments taking place in this area
Have a clear understanding of the conceptual and regulatory frameworks for financial reporting
Identify and critique the current and emerging issues most relevant to the practice of finance and accounting
Thinking or Cognitive Skills

Have a critical comprehension of the methods used in financial, accounting, taxation and auditing reports and research, and an ability to rationalise and interrogate these methods
Match the appropriate tools and techniques from the disciplines of accounting and finance to satisfy the planning, control and decision-making requirements of a specific organisation, or class of organisations
Have the ability to define, critically discuss and demonstrate a systematic knowledge of a range of research paradigms, research methods and measurement techniques, including statistical analysis
Practical Skills

Know, explain and apply the methods of accounting for various business combinations
Be capable of compiling a set of standard accounting and financial statements, to the level of basic consolidated accounts
Interpret an established set of accounting/financial statements, including the qualitative aspects of financial information
Critically analyse and evaluate the ethical impact(s) of a range of accounting and finance decisions upon the company and its stakeholders
Key Skills

  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving


Communicate ideas, concepts, understanding and research findings both effectively and fluently by written, oral and visual means
Be able to articulate and communicate complex and interdisciplinary concepts and explain the contexts which govern these
Comprehend and use numerical, statistical and other forms of data, particularly in the context of analysing and presenting complex data sets
Have a full and deep understanding of the importance of planning, scheduling and foresight in meeting deadlines, identifying taske, clarifying aims and objectives, and carrying out learning activities to appropriate conclusions
Manage their own workloads, and be capable of productively engaging in and carrying out self directed and autonomous learning
Competently initiate, design, conduct and report research under appropriate supervision, and recognise its theoretical, practical, and methodological implications and limitations
Demonstrate an awareness of ethical principles in relation to personal study, particularly with regard to individual or team-based project work, research methods, and other independent research activities
Competently use of information and communications technology to a level appropriate to the modern practitioner in an up-to-date business environment
Transferable Professional Skills

Have a wide and deep knowledge of the technical and management content of the syllabi of professional accountancy bodies, such as the ACCA. This should result, after appropriate institutional engagement, with the obtaining of a number of exemptions from relevant professional examinations for graduates of the programme.

This is a standalone MSc programme, and none of the modules are shared with other programmes.

It comprises six taught modules of 20 credits each, and a dissertation (which includes a research methods component) of 60 credits, making a total of 180 credits for the award of the master's degree. All of the modules, and the dissertation, are at level 7.
All of the six taught modules are core, together with the dissertation. The basis for the programme structure is the fact that Financial Accounting, Management Accounting, Finance, together with Audit, Assurance and Financial Risk Management are the foundation disciplines of Accounting and Finance. The business strategy module contextualises these disciplines into a broader management framework, and integrates them into a holistic perspective, together with other contributory disciplines.

The taught modules are taken in a linear fashion across semesters one and two to facilitate the gestation considered appropriate for materials at master's degree level. In addition to technical detail, theoretical understanding, critical thinking and management issues are given high priority in the programme content across all modules, and the two-semester time frame affords an opportunity to explore these aspects of the programme in depth.

 The dissertation and research methods are taken in semester three.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
BU7101 7 Business Strategy 20 Comp
BU7102 7 Financial Accounting 20 Comp
BU7103 7 Management Accounting and Performance Management 20 Comp
BU7104 7 Finance 20 Comp
BU7105 7 Audit Assurance and Risk Management 20 Comp
BU7106 7 Research Methods and Dissertation 60 Comp
BU7108 7 Business Law and Taxation 20 Comp

A Postgraduate Certificate in Accounting with Finance will be offered to those students who have amassed 60 credits in the taught modules and who choose to exit the programme prior to its normal completion. A Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting with Finance will be offered to those students who have amassed120 credits in the taught modules and who choose to exit the programme prior to its normal completion. The MSc degree is awarded on successful completion of the six taught modules, and the dissertation, totalling 180 credits.

The normal requirement for admission to the programme will be an honours primary degree in business, preferably with a strong accounting or finance component, or similar achievement in a cognate degree (e.g. economics). Consideration will be given to graduates from other disciplines, in particular those who also have relevant experiential backgrounds. Applicants with non-standard qualifications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Such candidates will be invited to attend for interview.

Overseas applicants whose first language is not English must furnish evidence of fluency in English, to the level of 6.5 IELTS.

Subject Benchmarking Statements are drawn from the publication of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (2007), www.qaa.ac.uk.

On completion of a degree covered by this subject benchmark statement, a student should normally have the following subject-specific knowledge and skills.

-  some of the contexts in which accounting can be seen as operating (examples of contexts include the legal, ethical, social and natural environment; the accountancy profession; the business entity; the capital markets; the public sector)

-  the main current technical language and practices of accounting (for example, recognition, measurement and disclosure in financial statements; managerial accounting; auditing; taxation) in a specified socio-economic domain

- some of the alternative technical languages and practices of accounting (for example, alternative recognition rules and valuation bases, accounting rules followed in other socio-economic domains, alternative managerial accounting approaches to control and decision-making)

- skills in recording and summarising transactions and other economic events; preparation of financial statements; analysis of the operations of business (for example, decision analysis, performance measurement and management control)

- financial analysis and projections

- contemporary theories and empirical evidence concerning accounting in at least one of its contexts (for example, accounting and capital markets; accounting and the firm; accounting and the public sector; accounting and society; accounting and sustainability) and the ability to critically evaluate such theories and evidence

- theories and empirical evidence concerning financial management, risk and the operation of capital markets

- An appreciation of the nature of the contexts in which finance can be seen as operating, including knowledge of the institutional framework necessary for understanding the role, operation and function of markets and financial institutions (eg the economic, legal, regulatory and tax environment, both national and international; the firm; the capital markets and the public sector).

- An ability to interpret financial data including that arising in the context of the firm or household from accounting statements and data generated in financial markets. The interpretation may involve analysis using statistical and financial functions and procedures such as are routinely available in spreadsheets (eg Microsoft Excel) and statistical packages. It may assume the skills necessary to manipulate financial data and carry out statistical and econometric tests(eg estimation and interpretation of asset pricing models; financial modelling and projections; event studies and residuals analysis; elements of time series analysis, such as serial correlation mean reversion, and stochastic volatility).

- An understanding of the financing arrangements and governance structures of business entities, and an appreciation of how theory and evidence can be combined to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of such arrangements (eg decisions as to sources of finance and financial structure; the pricing of corporate securities; the market for corporate control; corporate governance structures and mechanisms; financial planning and international dimensions of finance).

- An understanding of financial service activity in the economy, and an appreciation of how finance theory and evidence can be employed to interpret these services (for example, information asymmetry, adverse selection and moral hazard could be employed to analyse the fundamental nature of services, such as insurance, pensions, bank lending and consumer credit, and also explore fundamental problems arising in such financial service provision. Efficient market hypothesis could be used to explore evidence for fund manager performance and the effectiveness of equity and bond saving services).

- An ability to understand financial statements, and a basic appreciation of the limitations of financial reporting practices and procedures (eg financial statement analysis; the relation between cash flow accounting and accrual accounting; discretionary accounting practices; and the nature of accounting measures of financial performance). 

 

The design of the MSc in Accounting with Finance programme, its curriculum content and structure, and the learning, teaching and assessment strategy is informed by the following underpinning principles:
  • A recognition of the need to produce critically thinking Level 7 accounting and finance graduates who can demonstrate the rigour of their academic level of achievement but who are also able to meet the challenge of changing external and internal business environments;
  • A recognition of the need to develop individuals who are thinking creatively and innovatively and are capable of devising solutions to problems, and applying these for the benefit of the business and organisational contexts in which they will develop their careers; or in continuing academic contexts; or as individual professional practitioners; and also within their broader contributions to society in general.
  • Acknowledgement that reflection on outcomes, processes, the experience of others as well as personal learning experience is important in order to maximize the opportunity to learn;
  • A commitment to raising awareness of the ethics, values and assumptions underpinning practices in accounting and finance as well as the other functional areas,  and contexts in which business organisations operate.
Lectures, seminars, tutorials, project workshops and discussion groups all play a part in the mode of delivery. Active and remote learning are encouraged with a number of modules using ICT. The extensive use of Moodle as a learning platform plays a fundamental part of our strategic approach to the use of new technology within the Learning Environment. Moodle acts as a foundation stone for supporting module delivery and enables the learner to take responsibility for their interaction with Programme materials and within on-line discussion. 

 The taught modules will be principally taught in linear or longitudinal format over two semesters through formal lectures and tutorials. Lectures will be used to deliver the key concepts, theories and examples. Tutorials will be used to expand on the topics covered in lectures, and will include practical applications. Case studies will also be used to improve the understanding of the topics and how  the theory can be applied in different business situations. The learning and teaching strategy for the module will allow students to develop an understanding of, and an appreciation for, the subject area. The assessments for the module will allow students to use the knowledge gained to address the various issues arising in the business world.

We shall also introduce a series of seminar-symposium type presentations delivered in an Independent Colleges Business Faculty Conference Week. This will take place  in the first week of the Second Semester. The video records and content of the Conference Week are related to the programme, and the teaching is seen as an integral part of the programme. The Conference Week format will normally take the form of three days of presentations which are agreed around a thematic format at the commencement of the academic year, followed by a day of synthesis, critical appraisal and summation by learners. In addition to Independent College business faculty, speakers will be drawn from:-
  • Academia: External speakers from the academic subjects which contribute to the cognate  discipline and subject areas taught within the Programme
  • External professional speakers drawn from businesses and other organisations, and the variety of sectors which make these up (including the public and private sectors)  
Suitable themes might for example include: -
  • Financial Services Sector Regulation – ‘light touch’ or ‘heavy touch’?
  • Emerging trends in global accounting standards – issues and implications
The learning experienced in the Conference Week is not separately assessed. Assessment is incorporated in the Modules which influence the content of the Conference, and will typically be relevant to one of the minor assessment components indicated in Section 28, ‘Assessment Strategy and Methods’, in this document.

The Conference Week is fully recorded on video and will be used as a study resource for programme participants.

In line with the Independent Colleges Quality Assurance Framework requirements, learners will be provided with regular and detailed formative academic advice and summative feedback on academic performance, and formal academic approval and agreement will be required to be given at all academic study decision points as learners progress through the Programme.

 

 

 



All of the taught modules will be delivered in a linear fashion, spanning two semesters.

For most of these modules, there will be three assessment components. The first of these will be a term paper, with a word count in the range 800 to 1,000 words, due at the end of Semester 1. This will normally take the form of a critique, or an evaluation, on a particular theme, development, or application specific to the subject matter of the module in question, and related to real-world situations. It will test the student's comprehension of the material delivered, and require the student to apply a logical framework in synthesising or analysing materials and techniques central to the module. This component will also provide an early warning for tutor and student if difficulties are arising on the part of the student in assimilating and/or applying module content. The Semester 1 submission will count for 20% of the module grade.

The second assessment component will require a slightly  shorter submission, of the order of 600 to 750 words, due during  Semester 2. The due date will be either in mid-February, or towards the end of March, the specific timing varying by module to eliminate peaks in workload, and to support load levelling for participants. This again will require students to exercise their critical faculties, through, for example,  a written proposal on how to improve the application of a particular technique, or a critique of some recent development that is relevant to the module content, or the solution to case study problems. The piece of work involved must be presented and justified by the student to the class and tutor(s). This submission will count for 15% of the module grade.

The third assessment component will normally be a written examination, of three hours duration, which will be sat after the end of Semester 2. This will count for 65% of the module grade, and will examine the student's knowledge of the totality of material covered during the module. Reasonable choice will be provided for students on the examination paper.

The exceptions to the above pattern will be the Business Strategy module, and the Dissertation/Research Methods which do not involve a formal written end-of-module examination.

Business Strategy will be assessed through two assessable components. The first of these will be a written submission of approximately 1250 words, required at the start of Semester 2. This will typically take the form of a piece of analytical work, such as a literature review, to establish the situation in relation to some aspect of the theory of business strategy. This will count for 20% of the module grade. The second assessment component will take the form of a longer submission, of approximately 3,500 words. The purpose of this is to synthesise and  integrate the broad range of concepts and approaches dealt with in the module. This will be due at the end of Semester 2, and will count for 80% of the module grade.

Accounting professionals must understand the economics of business arrangements in order to present managers, shareholders and other stakeholders with the kind of financial statements that transparently reflect the economics of these arrangements.  These arrangements have become, and continue to become, exponentially more complex, resulting in substantial challenges for the accounting and related professions.  Students can no longer be adequately prepared for a high-level career in accounting and finance by simply studying textbook details of such traditional topics as basic financial recording, inventory control and asset management.  We believe that a masters-level qualification is appropriate for the ambitious accounting and finance student.

This programme provides students with a broader and deeper understanding of how accounting and finance function within organisations.  Students develop critical and analytical thinking, as well as reinforcing the strong technical skills required for professional qualifications such as ACCA, CPA Ireland and ICAI.  Our graduates will be equipped with an advanced academic formation, highly developed practical professional skills and confidence in their ability to enter the workplace and both provide and maintain professional standards.

The target audience comprises pre or post-experiential candidates with an honours primary degree in business, accounting or cognate areas, or an equivalent qualification. Our proposed MSc programme is intended to equip participants with a solid grounding in the knowledge and skills of finance and accounting, and contextualises such specialist knowledge and skills  into the broader business frameworks in which they are applied.

This will enable graduates of the programme to operate effectively in management roles in finance, accounting and related areas. It will also serve as an ideal springboard for progressing to study and  qualification with specialist professional   accounting institutions, should that be a career aspiration for participants, and relevant professional exemptions will be pursued in this context.

This programme of study to be delivered at Independent Colleges Dublin fully embraces the University of Chester’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity.  We seek to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. We also aim to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.  The ultimate objective of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for. 

 In addition, the programme is developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:

  • Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. 
  • Each module and programme is developed in line with the policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.  
  • The programme induction activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic and support staff aware of any issues.  Students are made aware of avenues of support if they have any issues regarding diversity and equality. 
  • Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills.
  • In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements.
  • All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.

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