Sustainability Accounting | Abertay University

Sustainability Accounting


This module explores the limits of accounting and the interface between accounting and Sustainability/Corporate Social Responsibility.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with the ability to appraise conventional accounting as a means of discharging the public interest commitment of the accounting profession and to evaluate the relationship between Accounting on one hand and Ethics, CSR and Sustainable Development on the other hand.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Engage in discourse involving the theory of ethics including concepts of duty, rights and justice.

2.  Analyse and evaluate ethical issues in business and accounting practice.

3.  Systematically and critically evaluate a sustainability reports including an assessment of the theoretical basis/bases for preparing such a report.

4.  Assess current developments in social, environmental and sustainability accounting in theoretical, practical and historical contexts.

Indicative Content

1 Introduction to Moral Philosophy

Concept of knowledge. Ways of knowing. The language of ethics: moral development; moral duty; responsibility; rights and justice; the relation of morality and business, accounting ethics. Ethical decision-making models.

2 Professional Ethics

What is a profession? Public interest v self interest. Ethics and the business entity

3 Development & Critique of Conventional Accounting

Accounting as part of an economic, political, social, ethical and environmental system. Weaknesses of intellectual and ethical foundations of conventional accounting. The role of social and environmental accounting.

4 Theoretical Basis of Sustainability Accounting

Different theories to explain the practices of sustainability accounting, eg. accountability, decision-usefulness, stakeholder, political economy, legitimacy.

5 Social and Environmental Accounting in Practice

Development of Social and Environmental Accounting and the emergence of sustainability accoumting. The global reporting initiative. The triple bottom line approach. Accounting for sustainability. Accountability 1000. The role of audit. Impact of Social and Environmental Accounting on capital markets. Socially responsible investment.

6 Environmental Management Accounting

Environmental management, policy and audit. Accounting and the control of energy and waste costs. Incorporating environmental factors into capital investment appraisal. Life cycle analysis.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Class Contact is a mixture of lectorial and seminar-style work. Lectorials provide key input on concepts but also give the students the opportunity to interact with the material through undertaking small-group exercises. This demands a high level of independent enquiry skills which are needed for the individual assessment which comprises a case study of the extent to which a chosen company exhibits social and environmental accountability. At least 60% of lectures and tutorials will comprise enquiry-based learning. This is reflected in the learning workload below allocated to independent learning.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 14
Tutorial/Seminar 14
Supervised Practical Activity 7
Unsupervised Practical Activity 7
Assessment 50
Independent 108

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2017/18 , and may be subject to change for future years.