MSc Accounting and Finance

ACFI7015          The Research Project

Assignment 3: Semester 2 2019-2020

Assignment title

Creative accounting: motives and methods

Learning Outcomes assessed

  1. Select and justify appropriate established research techniques in accounting and finance to analyse theoretic problems and draw conclusions
  2. Use a range of learning resources competently and appropriately
  3. Demonstrate an ability to work independently and self critically
  4. Conduct research in a systematically rigorous yet critically reflective manner
  5. Recognize the potential limitations to research investigation and application
  6. Evaluate theories from the accounting and finance literature


The assignment accounts for 20% of the marks for this module.

This assignment asks you to write an essay critically reviewing the academic literature on creative accounting.

The assignment encourages:

  • critical reading of peer-reviewed seminal academic articles;
  • develop and demonstrate an understanding of the topic area of creative accounting and its implications for accounting practice and theory;
  • apply theoretical understanding of creative accounting and its applications to the field of accounting.


You are required to undertake a structured critical review of the creative accounting literature and to address the following issues:

  • How do managers indulge in creative accounting? Your answer should provide a structured overview of approaches plus one in-depth analysis of a creative accounting issue evident in practice.
  • To what extent do accounting theories explain the incentives for management to engage in creative accounting?
  • Does it matter if company managers engage in creative accounting: What are the consequences of creative accounting?

Initial Reading List

Remenarić, B., Kenfelja, I. and Mijoč, I. (2018). “Creative accounting – Motives, techniques and possibilities of prevention”, Econview, XXX1, pp. 193-199 (a pdf is available on the moodle site)

Jones, M. (2010). Creative Accounting, Fraud and International Accounting Scandals, Wiley Financial Series. (Available as an e-book in the library).

Shah, A.K. (1998) “Exploring the influences and constraints on creative accounting in the United Kingdom”, European Accounting Review, Vol.7 No.1, pp.83-104.

Stolowy, H. and Breton, G. (2004), “Accounts Manipulation: A Literature Review and Proposed Conceptual Framework”, Review of Accounting and Finance, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 5-92.


You are not limited to the suggested reading and are encouraged to undertake your own further reading in this area. At Masters level you are expected to read widely with a strong emphasis on high quality journals. Given that this is a 4000 word review you are expected to use a minimum of 15 sources for this coursework (including those listed above).  Your work can build on your first assignment.


Submission date

Your work must be uploaded to the dropbox in Moodle by 13.00 hours BST on Tuesday 7th April 2020

Any late submissions without approved exceptional circumstances will receive a ZERO mark for this coursework

Assignment length

The maximum length of this assignment is 4,000 words excluding references, bibliography, appendices, table of contents, cover sheet, executive summary, front cover, title page.

Presenting coursework for assessment

Your assignment must be presented in the following format:

  • It must be word-processed in 11 point Arial font and double-spaced
  • All pages must be numbered
  • Margins must be as follows: Top: 1 inch, Bottom: 1 inch (2.5 cm), Left: 1.25 inches, Right: 1.25 inches (3.2 cm)
  • It should not contain your name(s)


It is expected at this level that referencing will be complete and accurate, using the Harvard method. Guides to using the Harvard method are available on the library website ‘Cite them Right’:


The university’s Upgrade service also provides some online guidance on paraphrasing, how to avoid plagiarism, write critically and other aspects of assignment writing:


The service is available for personal consultation:


If you are still in doubt about referencing or any aspect of your writing, please consult your module leader.

All references must be in English


Marking, moderation and return of coursework and feedback

We will endeavour to mark your assignment within three weeks of submission and provide you with written feedback on its strengths and weaknesses. If you require any clarification on the written feedback, it is your responsibility to contact the tutor to arrange this.

Please refer to the module guide for how this module is marked and moderated, as well as feedback arrangements.

Use of Turnitin

This assignment will be submitted through Turnitin. Turnitin is a web-based tool that supports the development of good academic practice when preparing written work for assessment. This text-matching tool allows academic staff to check assignments for improper use of sources or potential plagiarism by comparing it against continuously up-dated databases (including web-pages and other student work).

Formative use of Turnitin is available, and a drop box will be made available on the moodle site.


Assignment Length

The length of an assignment is limited by a set number of words (4000) to contribute towards the development of writing skills and to ensure all work is assessed equitably. We therefore require you to complete your assignments within the number of words specified in the assignment brief (4000).

You will need to think carefully about how best to explain your case within the permitted number of words, using, for example, an appropriate mix of text, drawings, diagrams and tables, supplemented by information contained in appendices.

Please also remember that a report can be enhanced or damaged through layout, for example, placing all tables and drawings in appendices can hamper the flow of discussion. Decisions therefore need to be made about the most appropriate place to use tables etc., to support your case.

The specified word count (4000) refers to the main body of the report and does not include front cover, title page, contents page, executive summary, reference list, bibliography or appendices.  The word count does include headings, tables and in-text citations, but not equations or diagrams.

Appendices themselves will not be marked. However, inappropriate use of appendices will be taken into consideration when awarding the final mark.

Words that exceed the maximum allowed will not be marked. If in doubt, you should discuss this with the Module Leader before submission.


Return of coursework

Provisional assignment marks will normally be provided to students within 21 working days of the assignment submission deadline. University regulations do not permit the informal release of results via the telephone. All marks remain provisional until confirmed by the Examination Committee.

Students are required to retain marked assignments and tutor feedback for reference purposes until the Examination Committee has released the results.


Feedback on your work will be provided in a range of ways at various times throughout this module, and different feedback will serve slightly different purposes. Feedback is designed to support your learning and help you to improve subsequent work, so you need to get the most out of the feedback provided.

Please note that feedback is provided throughout the module NOT JUST ON FORMAL ASSESSED TASKS. It will be provided on your work and contribution in class, on the formal assessment tasks and, in some circumstances, during staff office hours.

If you would like further information about feedback, or how to use it, please talk to your tutor on this module or your PG: Programme Lead.

Feedback will be delivered electronically via the Moodle dropbox for each assignment.  To access feedback see the Student Guide on the Moodle page:


Authenticating your coursework

You must be able to demonstrate that the course work you submit for assessment is your own. You must therefore keep all working documents (electronic and paper) that you used or created while preparing the assignment, such as photocopies of sources and internet pages, your own notes on your reading and preparation and where primary research has been conducted, completed questionnaires or interview schedules, details of the process of analysis, field notes and so on. Most importantly, you should keep the early developing drafts of your coursework as evidence of the originality of your work by saving each revision to a file with a different name. This material should be kept until after the module results have been published on PIP. Please note that you may be required to submit an electronic version of your work.


Marking criteria

  • Use of literature:

A very good piece of work should show comprehensive and detailed knowledge of the subject area and where appropriate relevant literature that integrates theory with practice.

The extent and quality of your sources will be assessed. You are expected to demonstrate that you have undertaken an independent literature search so your list of references should include more than the sources to which you have been directed by the suggested reading, with a minimum of 15 articles.  You are also expected to be able to distinguish authoritative sources: these are journal articles which have academic authority.  [20 marks].

Distinction Merit Pass Resit Fail
>14 >12 10 <10 n/a


  • Critical approach to sources:

A very good piece of work must show the student can effectively critically review evidence, draw conclusions and suggest ideas to enhance organisational processes and/or theory whilst recognising contextual limitations.

Your ability to reflect on the literature you have read will be assessed. You should be able to identify similarities and differences between authors’ arguments and methods and to use such comparisons to support your arguments. You should be able to demonstrate your own thinking where the questions set require this by presenting an argument and supporting it by reference to evidence that you have collected.  You should draw conclusions that are logically connected to your argument. [20 marks]

Distinction Merit Pass Resit Fail
>14 >12 10 <10 n/a


  • Problem solving, application of theory to issues and practice:

A very good piece of work will show the student has developed his/her own ideas based on a wide range of evidence that has been thoroughly analysed, applied and discussed. The work should be entirely focused on the assignment question and objectives.

Your ability to demonstrate understanding of issues raised in the literature, including methodological issues, will be assessed, primarily in your approach to answering the questions set. Your discussion of the issues posed in the question should reflect your understanding: you should be able to present an argument, outlining alternative views (derived from your reading) and presenting evidence that supports these and arriving at a conclusion which you have justified from the literature and from examples. Your answer to the question should be clearly focused: read the question carefully and refer back to it frequently while writing your answer to ensure that you are not wandering off the point and including irrelevant material. [50 marks]

Distinction Merit Pass Resit Fail
>35 >30 25 <25 n/a


  • Presentation:


The assignment must be presented professionally, communicate key messages and arguments with convincing substantiation and contain accurate referencing in appropriate format.


This includes consideration of general presentation issues such as the inclusions of a sensible introduction, page layout, use of paragraphs, accurate spelling, fluency of language and compliance with presentation and submission instructions. The presentation of citations in the text and accurate referencing must also be in the correct format. If you cite sources in the text and do not include them in the list of references, the assumption will be made that you have not in fact consulted these sources but have copied material from another text which included them. This is plagiarism and attracts severe penalties. It is therefore essential that you check your text very carefully to ensure that all citations are listed as references.  [10 marks].

Distinction Merit Pass Resit Fail
>7 >6 5 <5 n/a


Marking and moderation of your work

Assessments are marked and given clear comments by one member of staff (the first assessor). A representative sample of these assessments is reviewed by a second assessor(s) from within the team, usually the module leader. This process may be informed by an analysis of marks given by each marker – averages, ranges etc.

Following internal moderation, a sample of scripts is reviewed by the External Examiner for the programme to ensure that the standards applied are comparable to those at other institutions.


Anonymous marking

The assignment will be marked without the assessor being aware of who submitted it to ensure that the work is marked fairly, without any possibility for bias. However, to ensure we can track your work electronically, please upload all files with your student number in the file name and ensure that your previous feedback is included in your submission.  Your identity will be revealed once the assessors have agreed your mark. This is to ensure that feedback on your assessed work is personalised and tailored to you. However, the marks cannot be amended once your identity is revealed. If you would like to read the full and formal regulations on anonymous marking you can find them in the University Regulations, section A3.6:




All assessments are intended to determine the skills, abilities, understanding and knowledge of each of the individual students undertaking the assessment. Cheating is defined as obtaining or attempting to obtain an unfair academic advantage. Cheating or assisting someone else to cheat (including attempting to assist someone else to cheat) may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the University’s Disciplinary Procedure. The University takes this issue very seriously and students have been expelled or had their degrees withheld for cheating in assessments. If you are having difficulty with your work it is important to seek help from your tutor rather than be tempted to use unfair means to gain marks. Do not risk losing your degree and all the work you have done.

The University defines a number of different forms of cheating, although any form of cheating is strictly forbidden not only those listed below. These are:

  • Submitting other people’s work as your own – either with or without their knowledge. This includes copying in examinations; using notes or unauthorised materials in examinations; submitting work you have paid for as your own; impersonation – taking an assessment on behalf of or pretending to be another student, or allowing another person to take an assessment on your behalf or pretend to be you.
  • Plagiarism – taking or using another person’s thoughts, writings or inventions as your own. To avoid plagiarism you must make sure that quotations from whatever source are clearly identified and attributed at the point where they occur in the text of your work by using one of the standard conventions for referencing. The Library has a leaflet about how to reference your work correctly and your tutor can also help you. It is not enough just to list sources in a bibliography at the end of your essay or dissertation if you do not acknowledge the actual quotations in the text. Neither is it acceptable to change some of the words or the order of sentences if, by failing to acknowledge the source properly, you give the impression that it is your own work.
  • Collusion – except where written instructions specify that work for assessment may be produced jointly and submitted as the work of more than one student, you must not collude with others to produce a piece of work jointly, copy or share another student’s work or lend your work to another student in the reasonable knowledge that some or all of it will be copied.
  • Duplication – submitting work for assessment that is the same as, or broadly similar to, work submitted earlier for academic credit, without acknowledgement of the previous submission.
  • Falsification – the invention of data, its alteration, its copying from any other source, or otherwise obtaining it by unfair means, or inventing quotations and/or references.
  • Custom Writing Services – this includes the use of any service which produces custom materials for a fee or other benefit. The University may consider any request placed with any form of custom writing service to be a form of cheating, whatever use is then made of the material produced, and therefore to be an offence under the Student Conduct Regulations. This extends to include any request for any piece of work (either formative or summative assessment or work which is not linked to any form of assessment or credit-bearing element of your programme) including, but not limited to, essays and dissertations (including outlines and guides), reports, exam notes, proposals, posters, presentations, the editing or improvement of existing work, statistical services and computing services including programme and code development.

Matthew Andrews, Academic Registrar
June 2011



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