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ACC3041 Sustainable Accounting and Finance

Semester 2, 2012 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business and Law
School or Department : School of Accounting, Economics and Finance
Version produced : 30 December 2013

Contents on this page


Examiner: Christina James-Overheu
Moderator: Geoff Slaughter


Pre-requisite: ACC3116 and FIN1101

Other requisites

Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at


Business is now under increasing scrutiny by both the public and governments and is being called to account for activities that have social and environmental implications. Fundamentally however, the business objective of profitability and thus maximising returns to shareholders must still apply, hence the triple bottom line approach where business needs to be managed both for public benefit and private good. This course focuses on the external reporting aspects of corporate social and environmental sustainability. It begins by examining the ethical considerations and corporate social responsibility issues of environmentally sustainable and unsustainable business practices. This theme is embedded in an exploration of business activities including how investors and lenders evaluate the sustainability of business activities before committing funds; the issues surrounding the reporting of environmental impacts of a business's operations and its sustainability initiatives to external stakeholders on a voluntary and legislative basis; the processes and methods by which these external reports can be verified for accuracy and integrity; and the internal and external issues that are likely to challenge sustainable business strategy in the future.


On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. demonstrate ethical research and enquiry by critically evaluating issues relating to corporate social responsibility and ethics in the context of environmentally sustainable business activities
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the relevance of sustainable business activities for investors, lenders, employees, consumers, governments and the wider community and appreciate the global nature of sustainability
  3. demonstrate academic and professional literacy by understanding and critically evaluating current accounting methods and processes that are used to report greenhouse emissions under Australia's National Greenhouse Reporting Regulations (NGER), including those methods currently required by the International Accounting Standards Board
  4. demonstrate academic and professional literacy by understanding and critically evaluating proposed emissions trading schemes and other proposals for emissions reduction
  5. demonstrate problem-solving skills through the identification and resolution of issues with external reporting processes for environmental sustainability relating to financial and non-financial aspects of business activities with the aim of making more informed, appropriate choices
  6. demonstrate the use of problem-solving skills to understand and apply the auditing and assurance framework to resolve issues in the context of corporate environmental sustainability and legislative requirements
  7. demonstrate an understanding of the strategic and financial implications of business sustainability and what future challenges are likely to emerge in terms of community expectations and legislative regulations
  8. demonstrate the capacity for written communication using the appropriate format and structure.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Business ethics: a social and environmental sustainability perspective 10.00
2. Sustainable financing and investing 20.00
3. Sustainable operating and reporting – global perspective and GRI 20.00
4. Sustainable operating and reporting – Australian perspective; NGER and ETS 30.00
5. Sustainable auditing and assurance services 10.00
6. Future directions for corporate sustainability 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • There is no set text book for this course, but readings will be made available via the course Web site. The course is designed to be highly topical and relevant, therefore new materials may be added via the Web site. Students will be expected to access the course Web site on a regular basis.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Brohé, A, Eyre, N & Howarth, N 2009, Carbon markets: an international business guide, Earthscan, London.
  • Des Jardins, JR 2007, Business ethics and the environment: imagining a sustainable future, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.
  • Grace, D & Cohen, S 2005, Business ethics: Australian problems and cases, 3rd edn, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria.
  • Hopwood, A, Unerman, G & Fries, J (eds.) 2010, Accounting for sustainability: practical insights, Earthscan, London.
  • Kroninsky, C & Robins, N (eds.) 2008, Sustainable investing: the art of long-term performance, Earthscan, London.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 40.00
Directed Study 56.00
Private Study 69.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ONLINE QUIZ 5 5 08 Aug 2012 (see note 1)
ASSIGNMENT 1 10 10 22 Aug 2012 (see note 2)
ASSIGNMENT 2 25 25 08 Oct 2012 (see note 3)
2-HOUR EXAMINATION 60 60 End S2 (see note 4)

  1. multiple-choice/short-answer questions
  2. written response to stimuli (articles, etc)
  3. case study and report
  4. The examination is scheduled to be held in the end-of-semester examination period. Students will be advised of the official examination date after the timetable has been finalised.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    If you are an international student in Australia, you are advised to attend all classes at your campus. For all other students, there are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks. (Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.)

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without prior approval of the examiner, then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    This is a closed examination. Candidates are allowed to bring only writing and drawing instruments into the examination. Students are not permitted to take mobile telephones, pagers or other electronic means of communication into the examination room.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. Assignments: (i) The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the examiner. (ii) Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within 24 hours if required by the examiner. (iii) In accordance with university policy, the examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances. (iv) Assignments are to be submitted in the appropriate assignment folders. (v) The examiner will normally only accept assessments that have been written, typed or printed on paper-based media. (vi) Students who do not have regular access to postal services or who are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner to negotiate such special arrangements. (vii) In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next day. Students are to note on the assignment cover the date of the public holiday for the examiner's convenience.

  2. Referencing in assignments: Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide at

  3. Course weightings: Course weightings of topics should not be interpreted as applying to the number of marks allocated to questions testing those topics in an examination paper. The examination may test material already tested in assignments.

  4. Deferred work: Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded: IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination); IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

Other requirements

  1. Computer, e-mail and Internet access: Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at