ACCTING 3500 - Accounting Theory III

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2016

Topics may include theory development in accounting, normative accounting theories, positive accounting theory, accounting regulation, ethics in accounting, behavioural accounting, social and environmental accounting issues, and professional judgement in accounting.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ACCTING 3500
    Course Accounting Theory III
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Business School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3.5 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites ACCTING 2501
    Course Description Topics may include theory development in accounting, normative accounting theories, positive accounting theory, accounting regulation, ethics in accounting, behavioural accounting, social and environmental accounting issues, and professional judgement in accounting.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Janice Loftus

    Course Co-Ordinator
    Associate Professor Janice Loftus
    Location: 13:10, Level 13, 10 Pulteney Street (Nexus 10)
    Telephone: 8313 1024

    Teaching Assistant
    Jessica Yi

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    The objectives of Accounting Theory III are that students should:
    1. Develop an appreciation of accounting policies available or under consideration for application within International Financial Reporting Standards;
    2. Be able to think critically about underlying theories, concepts, assumptions and arguments in accounting;
    3. Be able to apply accounting principles and knowledge of accounting techniques and to exercise judgement in forming solutions to financial reporting problems;
    4. Be able to effectively utilise oral and written communication skills to further learning and impart understanding of accounting issues to others; and
    5. Appreciate the importance of ethical reasoning and social and cultural considerations in professional accounting practice.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Rankin, M., P. Stanton, S. McGowan, K. Ferlauto and M. Tilling, Contemporary Issues in Accounting, 2012, John Wiley and Sons, Australia.* AND

    Financial Reporting Handbook 2016, John Wiley & Sons, Australia (CAANZ Handbook).*

    * E-book is available.

    Students are permitted to use earlier editions of the Handbook but may place themselves at a disadvantage in doing so.

    Please note: The 2016 Handbook will also be very helpful to those studying Corporate Accounting III.

    At relevant sections of the course additional prescribed readings elaborate on, or supplement, items in the prescribed texts. These readings are provided via links on MyUni or are available in the Barr Smith library.
    Recommended Resources
    If you are seeking additional reading in relation to assumed knowledge you should refer to:
    • Deegan, C. (2014). Financial Accounting Theory, 4th Edition.McGraw-Hill, Australia.
    • Godfrey, J., A. Hodgson, A. Tarca, J. Hamilton and S. Holmes, Accounting Theory, 7th Edition, 2010, John Wiley and Sons, Australia.
    • Henderson, S., G. Peirson, K. Herbohn, T. Artiach and B. Howieson (2013) Issues in Financial Accounting, 15th edition. Pearson Education Australia.
    • Leo, K., J. Knapp, S.McGowan and J. Sweeting (2015) Company Accounting, 10th Edition, John Wiley & Sons Australia.
    • Loftus, J., K. Leo, N. Boys, S. Daniliuc, B. Luke, H.N. Ang and K. Byrnes, Financial Reporting, John Wiley & Sons Australia
    • Loftus, J., K. Leo, R. Picker, V. Wise and K. Clark (2013), Understanding Australian Accounting Standards, 3rd Edition, John Wiley & Sons Australia.
    Resources to assist in developing communication skills:

    The writing centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local and international students including drop-in consultations:

    An internationally recognised volunteer program is also available to provide language support for students from non-English speaking backgrounds who have an additional need to improve their oral communication: 

    Online Learning
    Students should refer to the course website for certain required readings and additional references as directed. The website also includes links to some useful websites.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    At this advanced level of study you are much more responsible for the quality of your learning than when you first entered university. Accordingly, active rather than passive learning is emphasised. For each topic there are self-study questions; and tutorial questions.

    Self-study questions

    Self-study questions facilitate your comprehension of the content of the prescribed readings. Guidance on self-study questions is provided on MyUni. Your learning will be enhanced by attempting the questions before referring to the guidance notes to assess your response.

    Tutorial questions

    Tutorial questions are generally more challenging than self-study questions because they emphasise analysis, evaluation and synthesis of information, as well as the development of creative solutions to problems. There are two types of tutorial questions:

    • Tutorial questions that you should attempt in preparation for the tutorial; and
    • In-class activities, which are to be completed during tutorials.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students in this course are expected to attend one lecture and one tutorial class each week.
    · Lectures : 2 hours per week, commencing Wednesday, 2 March 2016
    · Tutorials: 1.5 hours per week, Tutorials START MONDAY 7 MARCH 2016.  Alternative classes
    have been incorporated in the timetable for tutorials affected by public holidays, e.g., Monday 14 March.

    The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units/semester) to devote a total of 48 hours/week to their studies. Accounting Theory III is a three-unit course and you are expected to commit 8 - 9 hours of private study outside of your regular classes.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Please consult the MyUni site for this course for more detailed information regarding the course topics.

    Week    Starting              Topic introduced in lectures
                  PART I – INTRODUCTION
    1           29/02/16            Introduction to the course, Professional judgement in accounting
    2            7/03/16              Regulatory context: true and fair view, principles-based accounting standards and the conceptual framework
    3          15/03/16              Definition and recognition of elements of financial statements
    4          21/03/16              Measurement
    5          29/03/16              Accounting policy decision model
    6            4/04/16              Mid-Semester Test (Tutorials as usual)
                                          MID-SEMESTER BREAK
    7         26/04/16                Ethics
    8            2/05/16              Agency theory
    9            9/05/16              Capital markets research
    10         16/05/16              Social & environmental reporting
    11         23/05/16              Overview and summary of the course
    12         30/05/16              Revision
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    The third-year stage of the the University of Adelaide Small Group Discovery Experience (SGDE) for accounting is implemented in this course.
    SGDE groups will be formed in tutorials in week 3.
    Several skills workshops will be provided to help you (and your small group) on your journey of discovery. The skills workshops will be accommodated within the usual lecture timetable. The skills workshops will cover analysing questions, diversity and team work, accessing on-line materials, giving and using feedback, research, oral presentation and report writing.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Summary
    A variety of assessment tasks are used to reflect your knowledge and understanding of the content covered and your progress in achieving the learning objectives for Accounting Theory III. 


    To pass this course, a mark of at least 50% must be obtained on the final exam, as well as a total of at least 50% overall. Students not achieving the minimum exam mark will be awarded no more than 49.

    Assessment Related Requirements
    These guidelines apply to both the individual assignment and the group research report.
    Assignment Guidelines including Referencing Details: Correct referencing is important because it identifies the source of the ideas and arguments that you present and helps to avoid the problem of plagiarism. This course makes use of the “Harvard” system of referencing. Guidelines for the use of this style of referencing can be found in the Communication Skills Guide for Business Programmes (look under ‘downloads’): This booklet also provides guidelines on a range of other important communication skills (including writing essays and reports, making oral presentations etc.).

    Late Assignment Submission: Students are expected to submit their work by the due date to maintain fairness and equity. Extensions will generally only be given for medical or other serious reasons. All requests for extensions must be emailed to the lecturer in charge of the course before the due date. Each request will be assessed on its merits. Unless subject to an extension (by prior arrangement) assignments will be penalised by a 10% mark reduction (10% of the maximum mark) for each day, or part thereof, that it is late.

    Extensions for assignments may be granted under special circumstances. An extension request based on illness or exceptional personal circumstances must include the Supporting Statement/Certification Form, of the Modified Arrangements for Coursework Assessment application form at:
    Students applying for an extension based on medical reasons must visit their medical practitioner, with that approved University form, and have the medical practitioner complete it. A doctor's certificate will not be accepted. Any student seeking an extension must contact the course co-ordinator PRIOR to the due date. Extensions, except on medical grounds, cannot be given after the due date.

    Marking of Assignments: Staff will aim to complete marking communicate feedback and grades to students within two weeks of submission.
    Assessment Detail
    Assessment Detail
    A summary of the assessment components are as follows (full details can be found on MyUni):

    Individual Assignment 8%
    Due Date: Wednesday 13 April 2016, on or before 6.00 pm

    Mid-semester Exam (Week 6) 16%
    A 50-minute test will cover topics one to four, inclusive, and include both short-answer style and multiple-choice questions. Materials permitted are as per the final exam. This assessment task relates to learning objectives a) through e). Further details, including location(s), will be posted on MyUni. Please monitor MyUni for information about arrangements for the lecture for week 6.

    Tutorial Activities: 12%
    This assessment task relates to learning objectives a) – e). Marks are NOT awarded for merely attending tutorials. Tutorial participation marks will be awarded for participation in various activities, including:

    Short-answer writing tasks (average of two) (4 marks)
    Homework (average of four) (4 marks)
    Engagement in general class discussion and in-class activities (4 marks).

    Short-answer writing tasks: The writing tasks are intended to help develop your written communication skills. The first writing tasks will be held during tutorials from Friday 18 March (Week 3) to Thursday 24 March (Week 4). The second writing task will be held during tutorials from Monday 16 May – Friday 20 May (Week 10). Each writing task will be based on the topic to be covered in tutorials in the week in which the writing task is conducted. They will be scheduled at the beginning of tutorial classes, unless specified otherwise by your tutor. Writing tasks can only be taken in your enrolled tutorial.  and missed tests cannot be 'made up' on another occasion for any reason (including medical). Requests for special consideration may be made in accordance with University policy and, if granted, will be addressed by reweighting of assessment.

    Homework: Completed homework must be uploaded on MyUni each week by 6.00 p.m. on the day before your scheduled tutorial. The homework will be assessed four times per semester. Students are not given prior knowledge of the weeks in which homework will be assessed.

    Engagement in general discussion: This is an assessment of your ability to answer questions when your tutor directs a question to you as well as contributing to general class discussion and in-class activities. Demonstrating that you have prepared answers to tutorial questions and being willing to discuss them in class is an important part of tutorial participation. Your participation will be assessed on how often you engage in class discussion of tutorial questions, the quality of your contribution and the extent to which you comply with appropriate tutorial etiquette (refer to MyUni). The full range of the marking scale may be used – if you attend every tutorial but make no contribution, you will be awarded zero for this assessment item.
    The mark will be an average mark of the following two intervals:
    Weeks 3 – 7 inclusive (results released in week 8);
    Weeks 8 – 12 inclusive

    Report on Small Group Discovery Experience (14%)
    Assessment of your participation in the SGDE will be based on a group research report comprising:
    Individual contribution to a group presentation in tutorials in week 12     (4 marks)
    Group mark awarded for written submission due 6.00 p.m. on Monday 6 June 2016 (10 marks)

    Each group will also give a 10-minute presentation of their SGDE proposal (research questions and methods) in tutorials in week 7
    for formative feedback:
    Feedback on your research proposal from your group’s mentor; and
    Feedback on your presentation skills from your tutor.
    This assessment task relates to learning objectives a) – e).

    Final Exam 50%
    There will be a three-hour exam. This assessment task relates to learning objectives a) – e). The Financial Reporting Handbook will be permitted in the examination (Hard copies only; e-books not permitted). This must be unannotated and contain no inserts, tabs, or other material. It is permissible for the Handbook to include highlighted text and/or underlining. Handbooks will be checked and offenders may face penalties for cheating. In this course, only calculators incapable of storing text are permitted in the examination. You are not permitted to take a DICTIONARY (English or English-Foreign) into the examination. Legible hand-writing and the quality of English expression are considered to be integral parts of the assessment process. Poor or illegible handwriting may result in marks not being awarded.

    Presentation of Assignments and Research Reports
    The assignment relates to course learning objectives (a) to (e) but with an emphasis on objectives (b) and (d). Criteria for assessing the assignment will be provided with the instructions.

    The SGDE research report relates to course learning objectives (a) to (e).

    Assignments and SGDE research reports must be submitted electronically through MyUni Turnitin Assignments, which is a computer programme that detects plagiarism.
    Please retain copies of your submitted work.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    Students were asked to respond on a range of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) to
    the following statements:
    The course
    a)  has clearly identified learning outcomes
    b)  is well organised
    c)  Workload is appropriate to achieve learning outcomes
    d)  Uses appropriate strategies to engage me in my learning
    e)   Uses appropriate online resources and technologies to help me achieve its learning outcomes
    f)   Uses methods of assessment that help me achieve its learning outcomes
    g)   Helps me develop thinking skills (e.g., problem solving and critical analysis)
    h)   Has a learning environment that takes into account student diversity
    i)  My learning in this course is supported by effective feedback
    j)  Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this course

    In 2015 the median response to the all statements was 6 and mean responses varied from 5.89 to 6.13, which reflected continuous improvement 2014 (4.15 – 5.03 in semester 1; 5.13 – 5.61 in semester 2). In semester 1 of 2016, the median was 6 for all questions, except items (f) and (i), for which the median was 5. However, there was broad agreement on both of these items.

    While measures were introduced in semester 1 to provide more feedback on the participation mark (the first-half of the tutorial participation mark communicated in week 7), there was a delay with marking the individual assessment task. The nature of the task will be modified this semester to facilitate more timely feedback.

    We acknowledge the contribution of feedback from past students in our endeavours to providing a more effective learning environment.

    Individual comments are dispersed and sometimes contradictory, reflecting the diversity of learning needs and approaches to learning within the enrolment (or at least within the 30 – 35% of the enrolment who responded to the survey). Frequently
    recurring comments and course response (in italics) are summarised below:

    The SGDE report was the best part of the course.

    Staff allocation of students to SGDE groups is dumb. While there was a recurring recommendation for students to be able to choose their own SGDE groups, this is not feasible for both logistical reasons and the days of staff time that are consumed by
    relying on students to ‘self-report group membership. In contrast, some students welcomed being allocated to a group by staff and reported that it reduced problems with ‘free-riding’.

    It was a bit too much to have the small group assignment as we were really busy with revisions for other course but we still
    have assignments to deal with for this course when it is week 12 or 13.
    While other tasks on the course were reduced, and linked to the SGDE project, to avoid workload problems, further consideration is being given to workload issues in designing assessments in semester 2. We have also brought forward the presentation to facilitate better time management for finalising the report in response to feedback at the presentation.

    Workload is sufficient.

    The self-study questions are very helpful. We are pleased to hear that the self-study questions are an effective tool and
    will increase the extent of self-study questions in those topics that students find most difficult.

    A recurring comment was that people felt unsure about what they were being asked in assessment tasks.  More surprisingly,
    some people claimed that no guidance had been provided. Students are reminded of the guidance on answering questions provided in the first week of lectures, which was reinforced through an in-class activity in tutorials in week 2. Further guidance was provided in the context of the assignment feedback (general feedback) and the revision lecture and exam preparation workshop.  Students are reminded to take advantageof general feedback on assessments task, in addition to the individual feedback and seek further help in consultations, if required.

    Some people would like heavier weighting on tutorial work to reflect the effort they had made to prepare for tutorials. Tutorials are part of the learning process, as is the work that you do to prepare for them. The knowledge acquired and the skills developed through preparation for, and participation in, tutorials is assessed in other components of the assessment, in addition to being directly assessed through the tutorial marks for participation and writing tasks. In response, the assessment from semester 2 2015 onwards was modified to include a tutorial preparation (homework) component.

    More feedback on homework would help Tutors go through the questions in tutorials. It is the responsibility of students to self-assess their homework based on the class discussion.

    Some people would like model answers to tutorial questions. These are not provided because many of the questions and problems considered in the course do not have a unique correct answer or solution. The emphasis of many questions and problems is on the exercise and justification of judgement. However, expansion of self-study material, as discussed above, has alleviated the concerns raised.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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