Studying accounting involves more than just working with numbers, and will require many things from a budget analysis, management accounting and auditing, to business strategy, professional standards and ethics and tax accounting.
Accountancy is key to developing your mathematical and technical knowledge. Studying accountancy at university provides a direct route to working in a number of accounting and other industries such as investment, banking and insurance.
What is accounting?
Accounting relates to the information analysis of a company. Accounting covers finance, mathematics, statistics and economics and teaches you about the daily flow of money in and out of a business.
Accounting can be broken down into different types:
- Auditing: Companies provide annual reports of their accounts. Auditors offer independent analysis of the financial activity. This ensures businesses are following official rules and are up to standard. You can work as an internal or external auditor.
- Financial accounting: Helping companies keep track of financial transactions. The purpose is tracking, recording and reporting on financial transactions. Financial accounting is used in most accounting jobs.
- Forensic accounting: Financial detective work. It combines auditing, accounting and investigative techniques. Forensic accountancy uses accountancy techniques to solve crimes.
- Management accounting: Similar to financial accounting and used in businesses worldwide. It’s about tracking finances and creating reports to use internally.
- Tax accounting: Ensuring businesses or individual taxpayers follow tax regulations. Tax accounting is used in the majority of accountant jobs.
What are the modules for this course?
The modules can differ depending on your university. As well as whether it’s exclusively an accounting degree or a joint account like an accounting and finance degree. In the first year, you usually study introductory topics such as financial accounting and corporate finance. Whilst in the second year, the modules can be more in-depth. Topics vary and include:
- Accounting and accountability
- Corporate and business law
- Commerce, banking and investment
- Corporate finance
- Economic theory
- Ethics in finance and accounting
- Foundations of finance
- Financial accounting
- Financial management
- Financial markets
- Management accounting
- Mathematical economics
- Micro and macroeconomics for accounting
- Reporting financial performances
- Statistics for economics and business
In the third year, you can choose subjects which suit your interests. You will cover more advanced levels of the previous modules. You will have the option of studying topics including:
- Behavioural finance
- Corporate social responsibility
- Forensic accounting
- Finance derivatives
- Risk management
- Strategic management
- Tax planning
What are the entry requirements?
Entry requirements can vary depending on the university and course. Generally, an accounting degree requires between 96-160 UCAS points. Qualifications can include:
- A-levels: A-levels requirements vary from CCC to AAB, with an average of BBB. Maths is the most useful subject to have. Other subjects include economics, statistics, finance, and business.
- BTECs: Some universities may accept BTECs, depending on the course. Expected grades range from DDD–MMP.
- Scottish Highers: Highers requirements range from BBBC to AAABB, with the average as AAABB. Universities may ask for Advanced Highers in addition to Highers, at the grade AAB.
- International Baccalaureate (IB): For students studying the international baccalaureate, the overall score expectation is 37–28.
Additionally, it’s useful to have relevant work experience and skills. Work experience can include working in a bank or accountancy practice. Alternatively, you can shadow financial advisors and learn from their everyday roles.
Studying for an accountancy degree opens you up to various career paths including accounting, finance, business, economics, and investment.
Being interested in maths is key to an accounting and finance degree. You can take online courses, and practise with maths competitions or work experience. Any additional reading is also useful such as the Financial Times, and The Economist. Also, the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) has beneficial resources such as reports, journals and articles.
How do I write my personal statement for this subject?
The key to an accounting and finance personal statement is to show your enthusiasm. Make sure you include a skills overview, interests, further studies and extracurricular activities. Describe and use examples about how you found the further studies and activities useful, and why they can help with your degree.
In the finance sector, good communication skills are critical. This can be presented by how you write your personal statement. To do this, ensure you’ve proofread it, explained yourself fully, shared examples and it’s both well-structured and error-free. You can use free grammar checkers online such as Grammarly to help with this.
Universities are interested in your dedication to further reading of accountancy. Reading or researching beyond your studies broadens your knowledge and understanding. As well as stating what you have been reading, explain what you have learnt and how you will use that in your degree. Practical experience can also put you at an advantage in this course, whether it’s shadowing an accountant or working as an intern in accountancy.
Another point to consider is discussing your extracurricular activities and achievements. Talk about how they link to an accounting and finance course. Also, talk about how what you are studying and your interests suit your future career goals.
What books or equipment do I need?
Every university will provide a suggested reading list. However, any further reading you can do beforehand can benefit you further. The range of books varies for accounting students. For example:
Money: The Unauthorized Biographyi> by Felix Martin.
The Intentional Accountant: Your Roadmap to Building a Next Generation Accounting Firmi> by Darren Root.
Accounting Changes: Chronicles of Convergence, Crisis and Complexity in Financial Reportingi> by Bob Herz.
In terms of equipment, your university will suggest what will be suitable for you. A quality laptop is useful to write up your work and take notes in lectures. Notebooks, stationery, calculator and organisation software on your laptop is also beneficial.
How will I be assessed?
Assessments differ depending on the module and your course. Generally, assessment is via:
- Dissertation (third year)
- Group assignments
- Ongoing assessments like seminar involvement
What are the career prospects?
Studying for an accountancy degree opens you up to various career paths including accounting, finance, business, economics, and investment. There’s also the option to work in auditing, corporate, risk assessment or tax. With an accountancy degree, you can transfer your skills to other industries including law, media, retail, IT, consulting or the public sector. There’s also the option to teach accounting in higher education. Some of these industries require further training such as teacher who will require a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education).
What jobs can I get with this degree?
As a transferable degree, you can move straight into the accountancy industry. Also, as another option, corporate lawyers, solicitors and other legal professionals benefit from an accounting degree.
Alternatively, you can look into other careers including:
- Accounting technician
- Chartered accountant
- Commercial analyst
- Compliance manager
- Credit controller
- Data analyst
- Financial accounts manager
- Forensic accountant
- Insurance broker
- Investment banker
- Production Accountant
- Retail banker
- Tax adviser
How does accounting change at a postgraduate level?
An undergraduate accounting degree lasts around three to four years, depending on the course you are studying. Whilst a postgraduate degree is shorter, taking around one to two years.
Postgraduate degrees are more complex than undergraduate accounting degrees. The subjects you learn at undergraduate level can be taught at the expert level. For example, some postgraduate degrees include MA in Accounting and Finance, Corporate Finance MSc, Pre-Masters Accounting or PgDip in Business Management and Accounting.
Accounting relates to the information analysis of a company.
How you are assessed is similar to various coursework and exams. However, for most postgraduate degrees, a dissertation is required on your chosen subject.
What is the average grad salary in this area?
A graduate accountant's salary is based on your employer, experience, skill and location. In the UK, on average the salary of a graduate trainee accountant is £23,000. The entry-level position's salary starts at £21,000. Whilst more experienced workers can earn up to £27,000.
On average, skilled accountants will earn around the £33,000 mark. However, the most experienced can earn as much as £61,000+. As an employed accountant, you will make a set salary. To increase your salary, work as a self-employed accountant or financial advisor. Alternatively, there's the option to open an accountancy firm.
- Graduate Trainee Accountant average salary in United Kingdom, 2022 — Talent.com Retrieved 7 November 2022.
- What is the average salary for Accounting Graduate jobs? — TotalJobs.com Retrieved 7 November 2022.