SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHN422790
Module Leader Daniel McGregor
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Finance and Accounting
  • B (January start)

Summary of Content

The critical accounting literature focuses attention on how large societal institutions are administered and held to account. It draws on perspectives from other social sciences in order to illuminate (and possibly transform) accounting practices. The module seeks to evaluate current accounting thinking by reference to the literature produced by proponents of critical accounting theories. Following a reassessment of mainstream accounting thinking, students re-examine the conventional accounting paradigm from a number of different perspectives. The critical accounting literature is now considerable. In consequence, some seminal papers and some current papers written from the standpoint of each of the alternative perspectives are examined.


The received wisdom and alternative perspectives. Mainstream accounting encounters interpretive research - developments out of behavioural accounting research. Challenging the mainstream through contextual and critical analysis: arguments for a social analysis of accounting. The mainstream encounters an explicitly critical stance: questioning accounting's neutrality. Alternative approaches to a critical social analysis of accounting: Marxism; Labour process; Critical theory; Foucault; Feminism.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:1. Critically analyse conventional accounting theory;2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the paradigms that compete with accounting's received wisdom;3. Evaluate the principal alternative arguments forwarded by critical theorists;4. Assess the application to accounting of alternative critical perspectives.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

Lectures are used to provide an overview of topics. The majority of the module is student-led - students are expected to read prior to coverage of a topic; most classes involve either group discussions or individual/group presentations. GCU Learn is used to support learning activities. GSBS will continue to use the advancement of GCU Learn as a blended learning tool through its teaching and learning as well as through engagement with students. GSBS will ensure that all modules are GCU Learn enabled and with the support of the Learning Technologists at the cutting edge of development of online materials. Academic staff and the Learning Technologists will continue to work together to develop and operate all modules on GCULearn to ensure student support and information sharing. Students are provided with formative and summative feedback via a variety of mechanisms. Feedback on coursework is provided within 3 working weeks of submission.

Indicative Reading

Journals Mainly journal based: Accounting, Organisations and Society Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal Critical Perspectives on Accounting. Books Best, S. (2003), A Beginner's Guide to Social Theory , Sage Callinicos, A. (1999), Social Theory: A Historical Introduction , Polity Press Gallhofer, S. and Haslam, J. (2003), Accounting and Emancipation , Routledge Harris, D. (2003), Teaching Yourself Social Theory , Sage Publications Jones, T. C. (1995), Accounting and the Enterprise - a Social Analysis , Routledge Layder, D.L. (2006), Understanding Social Theory , London: Sage Publications Lehman, C.R. (1992), Accounting's Changing Roles in Social Conflict , Paul Chapman Puxty, A.G. (1993), The Social and Organisational Context of Management Accounting , Academic Press Roslender, R. (1992), Sociological Perspectives on Modern Accountancy , Routledge Tinker, T. (1985), Paper Prophets - A Social Critique of Accounting , Holt Rinehart and Winston Online sources C.mass.apps Marxists Internet Archive Students must use online sources in researching for group presentation.

Transferrable Skills

By the end of this module students will have gained competence in the following key areas: b7 Execution of a defined project of research. This will be reflected in acquiring, analysing and communicating information for the essay; b7 Using a range of forms of communication effectively and conveying complex ideas in a well-structured and coherent form. This will be reflected in acquiring, analysing and communicating information for the essay, in seminar contributions, and in the presentations; b7 Making formal presentations about a specialised topic. This will be reflected in the presentations; b7 Practising in ways which show a clear awareness of own and others' roles and responsibilities. This will be reflected in the group presentation and in seminar contributions.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Seminars (FT) 11.00
Assessment (FT) 28.00
Independent Learning (FT) 137.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 02 n/a 50.00 35% 50% PARTICIPATION (all online)
Course Work 01 n/a 50.00 35% 2000 WORD ESSAY