Study Accounting & Finance: A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Delve into the intricate realm of Accounting & Finance as we embark on a comprehensive journey through this dynamic subject. Whether you’re a prospective student seeking clarity on course choices or a curious mind eager to unravel the financial intricacies of the business world, our guide is your compass. Join us as we demystify key concepts, highlight career prospects, and provide expert insights, all designed to equip you for success in the captivating world of numbers and money.

accounting & finance

Table of Contents

What is Accounting & Finance?

Accounting: At its core, accounting is the systematic recording, analysis, and interpretation of financial transactions. It answers essential questions like: How much money does a company have? What are its expenses? What is the profit or loss? Accounting enables businesses to track their financial performance, maintain accurate records, and adhere to legal and regulatory requirements.

There are two primary branches of accounting:

  1. Financial Accounting: This branch focuses on preparing financial statements like balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. These reports provide a snapshot of a company’s financial health to external stakeholders, such as investors and government authorities.

  2. Managerial Accounting: Managerial accounting is more internal-facing. It provides data and insights to help management make strategic decisions, control costs, and optimise operations.

Finance: Finance, on the other hand, deals with the management of money and investments. It is concerned with the allocation of resources to achieve financial goals. Finance encompasses a wide range of activities, including budgeting, investing, risk management, and financial planning.

Key areas within finance include:

  1. Corporate Finance: This involves decisions related to how a company finances its operations, manages its capital, and evaluates investment opportunities.

  2. Investments: Investment professionals focus on selecting and managing assets like stocks, bonds, and real estate to achieve financial objectives.

  3. Financial Planning: Financial planners help individuals and families create strategies for achieving their long-term financial goals, such as retirement planning and wealth management.

Why Study Accounting & Finance?

The decision to study Accounting & Finance is a choice that opens doors to a multitude of opportunities and benefits. Whether you are considering a degree in these fields or contemplating their relevance to your career, here are compelling reasons why delving into Accounting & Finance is a wise and rewarding choice:

1. Fundamental Business Skills: Accounting and Finance are at the heart of every successful business. By studying these subjects, you acquire a deep understanding of financial principles, which are essential for managing both personal and corporate finances effectively.

2. Financial Literacy: Accounting & Finance education enhances your financial literacy. You’ll learn how to budget, invest, save, and plan for retirement, which are vital life skills in an increasingly complex financial world.

3. Global Relevance: Accounting and Finance principles are universal. A qualification in these fields is recognised worldwide, opening up opportunities for international careers and collaborations.

4. Contribution to Society: Professionals in Accounting & Finance play a crucial role in maintaining financial transparency, preventing fraud, and ensuring ethical financial practices. Your work can have a positive impact on businesses, organisations, and communities.

5. Competitive Salaries: Careers in Accounting & Finance often come with competitive salaries and attractive benefits. The potential for financial reward is substantial, especially as you gain experience and expertise.

6. Ethical Foundation: Many accounting and finance professionals adhere to strict ethical guidelines. Studying these subjects can instil a strong sense of ethics and integrity in your approach to financial matters.

Best Universities for Accounting & Finance in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest QS World University Rankings:

4University of OxfordOxford, United Kingdom
6University of CambridgeCambridge, United Kingdom
7The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)London, United Kingdom
12London Business SchoolLondon, United Kingdom
19Imperial College LondonLondon, United Kingdom
19The University of ManchesterManchester, United Kingdom
38The University of WarwickCoventry, United Kingdom
46The University of EdinburghEdinburgh, United Kingdom
51UCLLondon, United Kingdom
61University of GlasgowGlasgow, United Kingdom
65Lancaster UniversityLancaster, United Kingdom
69City, University of LondonLondon, United Kingdom
76Durham UniversityDurham, United Kingdom
76University of BirminghamBirmingham, United Kingdom
101-150Cardiff UniversityCardiff, United Kingdom
101-150Oxford Brookes UniversityOxford, United Kingdom
101-150University of ExeterExeter, United Kingdom
101-150The University of SheffieldSheffield, United Kingdom
101-150University of BathBath, United Kingdom
101-150University of BristolBristol, United Kingdom
101-150University of LeedsLeeds, United Kingdom
101-150University of NottinghamNottingham, United Kingdom
101-150University of ReadingReading, United Kingdom
101-150University of SouthamptonSouthampton, United Kingdom
151-200Aston UniversityBirmingham, United Kingdom
151-200Essex, University ofColchester, United Kingdom
151-200Newcastle UniversityNewcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
151-200University of St AndrewsSt. Andrews, United Kingdom
201-250Loughborough UniversityLoughborough, United Kingdom
201-250Queen Mary University of LondonLondon, United Kingdom
201-250Queen's University BelfastBelfast, United Kingdom
201-250University of AberdeenAberdeen, United Kingdom
201-250University of LiverpoolLiverpool, United Kingdom
201-250University of StrathclydeGlasgow, United Kingdom
251-300Heriot-Watt UniversityEdinburgh, United Kingdom
251-300University of KentCanterbury, United Kingdom
251-300University of PortsmouthPortsmouth, United Kingdom
251-300University of YorkYork, United Kingdom
301-330Brunel University LondonLondon, United Kingdom
301-330University of SurreyGuildford, United Kingdom
301-330University of SussexBrighton, United Kingdom

Entry Requirements for an Accounting & Finance Degree

In the UK, the entry requirements for a degree in Accounting & Finance can vary depending on the university and the specific programme. However, here are some general guidelines and common requirements:

1. Academic Qualifications:

  • A-Levels: Most universities require students to have A-levels or equivalent qualifications. Typically, you would need A-levels in relevant subjects such as Mathematics, Economics, Business Studies, or Accounting. The specific grade requirements can vary between universities but are often in the ABB to AAA range.

  • International Baccalaureate (IB): Some universities may accept the International Baccalaureate with specific subject requirements. Again, this can vary, but it’s often around 32 to 36 points, with Higher Level subjects in related areas.

  • BTEC or Vocational Qualifications: Some universities accept BTEC or vocational qualifications in Accounting or Business. Entry requirements can vary, but you may need a Level 3 Extended Diploma with specific grades and subjects.

2. GCSEs or Equivalent:

  • You may also need to have GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and Mathematics at a minimum grade C/4 or above.

3. English Language Proficiency:

  • If English is not your first language, you may need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency through tests such as IELTS or TOEFL.

4. UCAS Application:

  • Most UK universities accept applications through the UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) system. You will need to apply through UCAS, and each course will have a unique UCAS code.

Jobs for Accounting & Finance Graduates

Accounting & Finance graduates have a wide range of career opportunities available to them in various sectors. Here are some common jobs and career paths for graduates in this field:

  1. Chartered Accountant (CA): Chartered accountants work for public accounting firms or as in-house accountants for organisations. They are responsible for financial reporting, auditing, tax planning, and advising clients on financial matters.

  2. Management Accountant: Management accountants, also known as cost, managerial, corporate, or private accountants, work within organisations to provide financial information for decision-making. They focus on budgeting, cost analysis, and performance evaluation.

  3. Financial Analyst: Financial analysts assess investment opportunities, analyse financial data, and provide recommendations to individuals, companies, or investment firms. They can specialise in areas like portfolio management, risk analysis, or equity research.

  4. Investment Banker: Investment bankers help companies raise capital through issuing stocks and bonds. They also provide advisory services for mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and financial restructuring.

  5. Financial Planner: Financial planners assist individuals and families in managing their finances, including retirement planning, investment strategies, estate planning, and risk management.

  6. Auditor: Auditors examine financial records and statements to ensure accuracy and compliance with laws and regulations. They work in public accounting firms, government agencies, or as internal auditors within organisations.

  7. Risk Analyst: Risk analysts evaluate and manage financial risks within organisations. They assess credit risk, market risk, and operational risk to develop strategies for risk mitigation.

These are just a few examples of the many career paths available to Accounting & Finance graduates. The specific roles and opportunities can vary depending on individual preferences, qualifications, and the industry or sector of interest. Additionally, with experience and professional qualifications, such as becoming a Chartered Accountant (CA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP), graduates can advance in their careers and access higher-paying positions.

Salary for Accounting & Finance Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £19,000

Medium-skilled: £21,000

High-skilled: £25,100

Topics for Accounting & Finance Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of accounting & finance and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. Cryptocurrency and Blockchain in Financial Reporting: Investigate the impact of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin on financial reporting, auditing, and regulatory compliance.

  2. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Reporting: Analyse the growing importance of ESG reporting in financial decision-making and its effects on investment strategies and corporate disclosures.

  3. The Influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Financial Analysis: Explore how AI and machine learning are transforming financial analysis, risk assessment, and investment strategies.

  4. Financial Implications of Cybersecurity Breaches: Examine the financial consequences of cybersecurity incidents on companies and their ability to recover from such events.

  5. Sustainable Finance and Green Investments: Investigate the role of sustainable finance in promoting environmentally responsible investments and its impact on financial markets.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

  • Economics
  • Business Administration or Management
  • Mathematics or Statistics
  • Actuarial Science
  • Investment and Financial Risk Management
  • Business Analytics or Data Science
  • International Business
  • Financial Economics
  • Quantitative Finance
  • Management Accounting
  • Banking and Finance
  • Corporate Finance

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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