By Lucy Hodges
Sunday 02 March 2014 03:41

What is it? A subject that teaches you how to manage the finances of a small or large business. In the first year you study modules in, for example, double-entry accounting or public accounts, as well as in assessing the profits and losses of organisations. You also learn about accounting for managers. In the second year, you take more of the same, plus a module on the published accounts of limited companies and accounting standards.

Why do it? Because you think that you might be interested in becoming an accountant, or fancy going into business and you know that being able to read a profit and loss account will be useful.

What skills do you need? Numeracy. It helps if you have an A-C grade in maths at GCSE. But you don't even need that. There is more to accounting than playing around with figures, says David Austen, examiner for the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA). You get to write reports on, say, the performance of a business. And you need to be able to talk a good talk - explain to your colleagues the importance of the bottom line.

How much practical work is there? A bit of practical, a bit of essay work. You work on case studies, solve problems and decide, for example, whether to invest in this or that project. You communicate through reports.

Ratio of coursework to exams: No coursework. All assessment by examination.

Is it hard? Pretty exacting but not as hard as maths because it's not as abstract. Everything is based on real-life situations. You have to be accurate and precise and able to handle a large volume of information.

Is it enjoyable? Yes, if you love the beautiful logic of it. And if you have a tidy mind and like order rather than the uncertainties of an arty subject.

Who takes it? Material girls and boys. Hard-headed types who are thinking of their future and are not afraid of some number-crunching.

How cool is it? Getting cooler by the year. The subject has mushroomed in the past five years in sixth forms and colleges. Sixteen- to 19-year- olds are increasingly interested in management, believe it or not. They want to study the subject at university and accounting A- or AS-level will help.

Added value: Field trips to London to visit the Bank of England and the Stock Exchange.

What subjects go with it? Business studies, economics, law. Otherwise, anything. Those who want a business career in the media could combine media or film studies with it.

What degrees does it lead to? Accounting, or accounting and finance. Or combined degrees such as accounting and law, or accounting and management.

Will it set you up for a brilliant career? Accountants earn megabucks. British accountants earn more than most. Finance directors of big companies earn pounds 100,000 plus.

What do students say? "I love it. I chose it because I want to go into retail management. I work for a large department store at the weekends and I want to do a degree in retail management and go on to become a store manager and perhaps become a director of a company." Tom Williams, 17, of Brockenhurst College, Hampshire.

Which awarding bodies offer it? OCR and AQA.

How widely available is it? Not every school or college offers it.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments