What you’ll learn
Accountants are the backbone of the financial world: they are numerate, articulate, analytical and understand how companies work. An accountant’s advice can sway how bosses make important decisions. This sounds like a huge amount of responsibility – and it is – but a degree in this field can give you the skills, background knowledge and confidence to succeed. Remember, though, that it is possible to become an accountant without a degree.
Modules vary between universities, but most cover the same core topics: an introduction to the principles of finance, accounting and bookkeeping. Courses are also likely to cover statistical methods, business law, macroeconomics, and the basics on how organisations are structured. Optional modules might include taxation, pensions or public sector accounting.
Students will leave university with an understanding of accountancy practices, an awareness of how business or public sector organisations are run, and an ability to think critically and interpret data. Most courses will introduce you to the IT tools used by the business world to collect, present and analyse financial information.
How you’ll learn
Students are taught through lectures and seminars. Some institutions also offer sandwich courses, where undergraduates can spend a year on an industry placement learning on the job. Assessment will involve coursework and written exams, as well as group projects and presentations. Some universities, such as the University of York, allow you to choose your own assessment breakdown in the final year.
As well as learning from full-time academic staff, most courses will include lectures from visiting professors who work in industry and can talk about the current challenges facing businesses.
Some Russell Group universities require maths at A-level (or equivalent). Business studies and economics should help your application. Requirements vary by university.
What job can you get?
To work as a chartered accountant after graduation you will need to study exams set by major professional bodies. Some degrees are accredited, so you may be exempt from sitting some official tests. Although it can take several years to become fully qualified, chartered accountants can earn up to £60,000 during training, according to careers website Prospect.
Career paths – and consequently salaries and workload – vary. As well as working in professional accountancy, many graduates find roles in management consultancy, investment banking and financial management. There are lots of employment opportunities at the big four accountancy firms (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers), smaller companies, and the public sector. Many graduates also work in private practices.