ACM008-Accounting for Sustainability

Module Provider:
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2023/4

Module Convenor: Dr Maggie Cooper

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This is a dynamic module, introducing students to the rapidly changing area of sustainability accounting. The module considers accounting for sustainability as a social and institutional practice and focuses on wider social implications of corporate reporting. Students will gain a broad view of how sustainability reporting has grown, how it is used now and potential future developments.  The course also explores the regulatory environment and political climate, and how these link with the development of existing standards and the introduction of new standards. Students will be introduced to a coordinated set of concepts and principles to serve as a framework for analysing a wide variety of sustainability reporting issues.  

The module covers a number of theoretical perspectives to give a broad overview of the complexity and diversity of accounting for sustainability, from internal processes to external reporting.   

Students will study the demand for and supply of sustainability information and its potential stock market impact.  Students will discuss the nature of and cases for and against the regulation of corporate sustainability reporting.  


  • Students will critically evaluate the relationship between economic events and the information in sustainability reports, and how this affects inferences about the economic activities and position of the firm. 

  • Students will discuss the wider social and political implications of sustainability reporting practice, viewing sustainability as a social and institutional practice. 

  • Students are encouraged to relate economic events to diverse practices in accounting for sustainability, and to think critically of ongoing controversies and debates. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to: 

  • Critically appraise the content of key frameworks and reporting standards. 

  • Discuss accounting for sustainability as a complex social practice. 

  • Explain the role of political, cultural and institutional factors in the production and application of sustainability accounting.

  • Critically appraise academic and professional arguments relating to the content of sustainability frameworks, standards and the standard setting process. 

  • Analyse, summarise and synthesise selected relevant academic and professional literature. 



Additional outcomes:

The module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills, and the students’ effectiveness in group situations. Structured activities are designed to develop independent learning skills. Students are encouraged to develop additional IT skills by use of relevant web resources and communication techniques, including Blackboard.

Outline content:

  • A range of theoretical and practical perspectives related to accounting for sustainability: 

  • The measurement of economic income and value (including applications to current accounting controversies). 

  • The demand for, and supply of accounting information in a market setting and its stock market impact.

  • Social and institutional practices including the nature of, and case for and against the regulation of corporate financial reporting. 

  • How these theories are used in the production of accounting policies and regulation. 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Lectures will be used for the exposition of the major concepts, principles and techniques under consideration. Workshops will be used for to discuss relevant articles, case studies, practical applications and student-led presentations or discussions. A reading list will be provided that covers key academic and professional papers and other writings in the accounting for sustainability literature.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 20
    Wider reading (directed) 60
    Preparation for seminars 20
    Essay preparation 25
    Reflection 45
Total hours by term 0 200 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 30
Report 70

Summative assessment- Examinations:

No examination.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

A portfolio containing reviews of four academic articles (each review 250 words) 

2,000 word (+ / - 10%)  written report to be submitted at the start of the summer term.

Formative assessment methods:

Quizzes in seminars will help students to evaluate their performance. Discussion of academic articles in seminars will enable them to assess their own work on their literature portfolio and their understanding of key issues.

Penalties for late submission:

The below information applies to students on taught programmes except those on Postgraduate Flexible programmes. Penalties for late submission, and the associated procedures, which apply to Postgraduate Flexible programmes are specified in the policy “Penalties for late submission for Postgraduate Flexible programmes”, which can be found here:
The Support Centres will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A minimum weighted average mark of 50% is required for a University pass.

Reassessment arrangements:

Reassessment is through written report.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

A textbook will be required costing approximately £50.

Last updated: 30 March 2023


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