Accounting and Finance


Steve Anderson
Friday 05 August 2011 13:08 BST
(Getty Images)

What courses? Accountancy; finance; accounting & finance; accountancy studies; financial accounting; professional accounting; business administration (accounting); money, banking & finance; financial studies. Plus a whole heap of joint honours with related, and completely unrelated, subjects.

What do you come out with? Most likely a BA or a BSc, depending on the course title and university.

Why do it? "The world continues to be in financial turmoil and this underlines the need for companies and other organisations to be able to report accurately, analyse, understand and take action to navigate through this 'sea of troubles'. An accounting and finance degree provides the academic grounding, knowledge and ability to help you prepare for a career that provides challenge, excitement and reward. It will show how reporting and analysis helps to make sense of the turmoil and will give you knowledge of the tools and methodologies that allow you to take action and manage the risks." - Anthony Birts, director of studies, BSc in accounting and finance, University of Bath

What’s it all about? Money, business, and management, and how the three intertwine, covering aspects of economics, but with a more practical, professionally-orientated focus. Contrary to popular belief accountancy and finance are not one and the same – accountancy covers the provision and analysis of information for a whole range of purposes within business, while finance is concerned directly with the management of monetary funds. Depending on the title of your course, you will focus more specifically on one of these areas, although most include aspects of both. Bath's BSc (Hons) in accountancy and finance (BAF) covers both in equal measure, with core modules in microeconomics, statistics and business accounting studied in the first year, before students specialise with optional modules in the following two years, covering topics from management and human resources, to consumer behaviour and supply management.

Study options: Most courses are three years full-time study, although many universities, including Bath, Birmingham City and Loughborough, offer a 'sandwich year' in between the second and third year, in which students can apply their newly-acquired skills in a professional context during a (usually fully-paid) placement. If studied with a language, students may have to study a year abroad, and in Scotland, students can study a four-year MA straight from school. Assessment methods vary from university to university, but expect exams in all cases, as well as essays, reports, case study analysis and group work also being common features. Some universities, such as Bath, Warwick, and LSE, offer courses that count towards professional qualifications, meaning that you won't have to take certain exams later in your career.

What will I need to do it? There's a lot of numbers involved so a decent A-level in maths is required in most cases. Offers range depending on university, but you're looking at between AAA and AAB for the top courses.

What are my job prospects? Good, in terms of options, but not so great when it comes to looking at the amount of graduates in jobs. Accounting and finance graduates lend themselves to a range of positions in the business world, but many set their sights on 'the Big Four' auditing firms – Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young and KPMG – in search of their fortunes. Financial management and banking are also popular career choices. Although those who find jobs are high in graduate salary tables, with an average sum of £21,551, 12 per cent of 2009's graduates were still unemployed six months after finishing their degree, 2 per cent higher than the national average (The Times' Good University Guide 2012).

Where’s best to do it? Bath came top overall in the Complete University Guide 2012, closely followed by Warwick, LSE, Lancaster and Strathclyde. Students at Lincoln, however, said they were most satisfied with their course

Related degrees: Business and management; marketing and advertising; economics.

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