Module information

Integrated Accounting

Module description


This module examines how we can understand whether the outcome(s) of the decisions we make move us towards a state of sustainability or to a more unsustainable state. Drawing on theoretical and empirical research and your own professional experience this module explores the tools and techniques organisations currently use to provide information to decision makers; what other tools and techniques are available for use; and what issues, concerns, problems, and shortcomings the users of the information produced should be aware of. Thus this module examines the supply and demand of information in relation to issues of sustainability. There are no co- or pre-requisites and no prior qualifications are assumed.

Additional Information:


This module is focused on sustainability, which is a global issue, and draws on different perspectives from a variety of countries.

External Engagement

Guest speakers previously have covered topics such as shadow accounting and the Prince of Wales Accounting for Sustainability project.


You will deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and learn to communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences. Further, you will demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level, and learn basic accounting literacy, which are all valuable qualities and skills for employment.


The lectures, reading list, and coursework all address issues of sustainability.   All of the resources for this module are available on the ELE (Exeter Learning Environment).

Full module specification

Module title:Integrated Accounting
Module code:MBAM802
Module level:M
Academic year:2014/5
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Stephen Jollands - Convenor
Module credit:12
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:


Module aims

This module aims to examine how we can understand sustainability through an accounting lens. Its purpose is to provide you with a working knowledge of the core concepts, principles and techniques of both financial accounting and management accounting. The module will enable you to understand how to plan, control, report upon and analyse organisational activity from both financial and non-financial perspectives. You will also explore how contemporarily used and sustainability focused tools and techniques assist or detract from providing performance measurement and management control for a sustainable future.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. explain the core concepts, principles and techniques of both financial and management accounting
  • 2. evaluate the concepts underpinning social and environmental accounting and integrated reporting

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. utilise accounting/financial formulae and techniques to analyse financial statements and other accounts
  • 4. apply and critically analyse accounting/financial models in a real-world context
  • 5. locate, extract, analyse and reference data from multiple sources.
  • 6. critically assess the reporting of non-financial aspects of organisational performance
  • 7. identify quantitative and qualitative measures for assessing an organisation's financial, social, environmental and sustainable performance

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. analyse and draw conclusions from structured and unstructured problems
  • 9. demonstrate effective written communication and IT skills, particularly in the context of reporting and explaining numerical analysis
  • 10. demonstrate effective independent study and research skills

Syllabus plan

In this module we will critically engage with:

  • How to understand sustainability through an accounting lens;
  • How accounting creates visibility and invisibility over differing aspects of organisational practice;
  • Analysis and rationale for financial disclosures, management reports, social and environmental disclosures and reports of sustainability;
  • Accounting’s place within an organisations broader management control system; and
  • The importance of relative and absolute performance measurement;

As a means of developing this critical engagement we will examine many specific areas of accounting, which may include the following:

  • Fundamentals (core concepts, principles and techniques) of financial  and management accounting;
  • Balanced scorecards;
  • Management Control Systems;
  • Integrated reporting and the GRI initiative;
  • Shadow and counter accounts;
  • Ecological footprints; and
  • Full coast accounting and sustainability assessment models;

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Atrill, P., & McLaney, E. (2011). Accounting and Finance for Non-Specialists. 7th ed. Harlow: Pearsons.

Ball, A., Milne, M.J., 2005. Sustainability and management control, in: Berry, A.J., Broadbent, J., Otley, D. (Eds.), Management control : theories, issues, and performance. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire New York, pp. 314-337.

Bebbington, J., Gray, R., 2001. An Account of Sustainability: Failure, Success and a Reconceptualization. Critical Perspectives on Accounting 12, 557-588.

Dey, C., 2007. Developing silent and shadow accounts, in: Unerman, J., O'Dwyer, B., Bebbington, J. (Eds.), Sustainability accounting and accountability. Routledge, London, pp. 307-326.

Birkin, F., 1996. The ecological accountant: From the cogito to thinking like a mountain. Critical Perspectives on Accounting 7, 231-257

Wackernagel, M., Rees, W.E., 1996. Our ecological footprint: reducing human impact on the Earth. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, B.C.

WWF - World Wide Fund for Nature, 2012. Living Planet Report 2010: Biodiversity, biocapacity and better choices, Gland, Switzerland, available at


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