Accountants are critical employees in all sorts of organisations from airlines to farms, manufacturers and movie studios to wineries and zoos. Our graduates have found work here in New Zealand or overseas – there are even accounting jobs at Scott Base on Antarctica!
UC's Bachelor of Commerce offers majors in Accounting, and Accounting and Taxation. These will lead you to be a chartered accountant in Australia or New Zealand or an equivalent overseas country as our courses meet the requirements for professional accounting bodies. At postgraduate level we offer an MCom in Accounting, and a Master of Professional Accounting (for graduates with a degree in another discipline).
Our qualifications consist of accounting, auditing and taxation with vital support components in law, economics, management, mathematics and statistics, communications and information systems.
Accounting knowledge and skills don’t just run to financial statements, spreadsheets and accounting software. They can be about raising investment capital, deploying it wisely, being a steward and exercising professional expertise and judgement. Accountants need to be able to understand, utilise and analyse information for organisational purposes, whether it's for small business and community organisations, a national or multinational company, city council, charity, Government or public agency.
On our accounting programme, you’ll not only learn these skills, but you’ll learn how to maintain and enhance them as technology, economies, societies and accountancy work changes in the decades ahead. To be work ready when you graduate you will do some in-depth and engaged learning on wide ranging topics, including:
- Accounting and finance in governments, public bodies and public services
- Accounting firm practices, including audit, tax and business consulting
- Accounting, sustainability and corporate social responsibility
- Accounting for social and environmental organisations
- Business sector management accounting, at operational and strategic levels
- International corporate, governmental and non-governmental financial reporting.
Accounting is also available as a minor in the Bachelor of Arts degree.
First-year introductory Accounting and Taxation courses include ACCT102 Accounting and Financial Information, ACCT 103 Accounting and Taxation, and ACCT 152 Law and Business.
UC Accounting and Taxation courses cover a diverse range of current topics such as Financial Accounting, Management Accounting, Public Management and Governance, Law of Business Contracts, Social and Environmental Reporting, Taxtion, Auditing and more. Explore the full list of courses offered in Accounting
UC’s Accounting Programme also comprises higher level qualifications at master's and doctorate level. These involve study and research into the wider area accounting. Higher level qualifications are open to graduates with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting who want to add an additional year of study, and those who want to return to study full-time or part-time, including chartered accountants and certified practising accountants.
- See our full list of postgraduate qualifications or contact the Accounting postgraduate coordinator:
The Department of Accounting and Information Systems offers the Master of Commerce in Accounting and in Taxation. Adding a postgraduate degree will allow you to take the basic body of knowledge from your undergraduate studies and any experiential learning from working, and raise your technical, critical thinking, research and presentation skills to new levels in demand in the economy.
- The programme offers considerable flexibility to graduates wishing to blend accounting, tax, and/or information systems with studies in wider socially relevant subjects like sustainability, corporate governance, organisational leadership, politics, and law, for example.
- With half of the programme dedicated to a research thesis, prospective students get to pursue a particular issue of interest to them in great depth under expert supervision.
- It also offers flexibility in the time of study, so that this may be blended with employment and other ways of earning a living.
Requirements for admission to the 180-point MCom are:
- B+ average in final-year courses relevant to the subject areas (i.e. accounting, taxation), or other 300-level courses approved by the Dean of Business.
The MCom is offered as a 180 point Master’s degree and the broad objective is to offer you an individually tailored, research-oriented programme, with an emphasis on rigour, scholarship and relevance.
While undergraduate courses are set according to the basic body of knowledge for the discipline, postgraduate study allows the courses to be adapted according to the latest issues, events and cases. Courses generally include a mixture of reviewing the latest research, completing inquiries and writing and presenting results all at the level expected in global businesses and governmental organisations. Many of the graduates from our postgraduate courses say that it was their master degree that prepared them for further challenges in their career.
For the MCom you will choose advanced study courses (60 points total), undertake a course in research methods incorporating preparing a research proposal (30 points), and then undertake the research project and write and present your results (90 points). Up to 30 points of advanced study can come from outside Accounting and Taxation. For example, you may want to include courses in information systems, marketing, politics, the arts, engineering, computer science etc, that provide the opportunity to build a relevant inter-disciplinary base for your planned research project.
As an example, a student might blend studies in sustainability reporting, corporate governance, socially responsible leadership, and environmental politics, giving them a unique basis on which to pursue a research project on integrated reporting. Alternatively, they might blend macroeconomics, governmental finance and accounting, and health administration providing a platform to research hospital policy systems.
During your Master’s study, you will work closely with an academic supervisor on a topic of your choice and gain expert knowledge in your field. The professors in our department are world renowned in their fields and the opportunity to work alongside such experts will provide you with a unique UC post-graduate experience.
To determine whether suitable supervision is potentially available, please consult the Department’s researchers.
Duration and start dates
The MCom can be completed full-time within one calendar year or part-time over three years. Students can commence studies in February and July each year.
For the 180 points MCom, students must take ACCT614 Research Methodology and Epistemology, which is a course in which they develop the project they will go on to complete in order to round out their master degree. At the moment ACCT614 is only offered in Semester 1, and so probably the more desirable date of entry for the 180 points MCom is February. However, someone may enter the programme in July, in which case they could take the postraduate papers on offer in Semester 2, and then complete ACCT614 in the following semester and finish their programme in the third semester, or afterwards if studying part-time.
Students with a research background (i.e. equivalent to an Honours degree) can undertake the MCom by thesis (120 points) at any time.
For mature graduates of UC and all other recognised universities in New Zealand and around the globe, including those who are members of accounting bodies such as Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand, study for the MCom is recognised for continuing professional development, and gives you an additional highly regarded qualification.
For recent undergraduates who intend following the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand programme, study in the MCom programme counts as one year of professional experience. This means that the time between graduating from the BCom degree and taking the final exams for the professional qualification is the same whether you study for another year or work for a year. The study option, though, gives you an additional qualification along the way, and fast-tracks your later career options.
PhD study is an integral part of the research activity within the Department of Accounting and Information Systems (ACIS). The PhD is an advanced research degree that involves the preparation of a research thesis under the close supervision of a faculty member. It is possible to be enrolled in our department and have an associate supervisor in another department, including Management, Economics or Computer Science. Your thesis must make an original contribution to knowledge in the area under study. To determine whether suitable supervision is potentially available, please consult the Department’s researchers.
Acceptance into the ACIS PhD programme depends mainly on:
- Attaining high grades for a BCom(Hons) degree (normally first class or upper second).
- Identifying a research topic that is appropriate for PhD research and suited to the candidate’s background.
- Having a person within the ACIS department who is keen and able to act as supervisor.
An Honours degree (or equivalent) is the normal entry requirement for the PhD. The BCom(Hons) can give immediate entry to the PhD if a student has already shown an ability to manage a large research project, e.g. by completing ACCT 680 with a high grade and on time. Otherwise, students with a BCom(Hons) are encouraged to enrol for the MCom to start a PhD. Subject to significant satisfactory progress, a student who already has an Honours degree can transfer at any time from MCom to PhD and backdate the PhD enrolment to the start of the MCom. If a student does not have an Honours degree but is doing an MCom, it would be very unusual to transfer to the PhD, but not impossible if the standard of work for the MCom convinced the department that the student had attained the standard of Honours.
The PhD typically requires the equivalent of 3–4 years full-time study.
Enquiries and applications
Your letter of application or email should be addressed to the ACIS PhD Programme coordinator.
Your letter must include:
- An outline of your intended research area (initially one page will suffice but we need details, e.g. objectives and likely methods, so that we can decide if we are likely to be able to supervise your chosen topic).
- A complete academic record showing courses studied (particularly at the graduate level) and grades awarded (so that we can assess whether you have an appropriate base for PhD research. Your record will show the topics you have studied and your expertise in research methods.
- Any other relevant information that will help us assess your likely ability to conduct original research, e.g. thesis, work and/or project experience.
- A brief, two-page Curriculum Vitae, including tertiary education and any employment (there is no need for referees at this stage).
- Prospective international students who have not completed their tertiary qualifications in the English language are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency by means of an English language test result that is no more than two years old. We accept the IELTS test — with an overall score of 6.5 or higher and no section lower than 6.0 — and the TOEFL Internet test — with a score of 90 or higher, and a minimum score of 20 for Writing. Other tests may be accepted on application.
If you are conditionally accepted by the Department, you will be required to go through the normal procedures of enrolment specified by the University. Candidates may enrol for a PhD degree at any time during the year.
Enrolment for a PhD thesis can take place at any time during the year. Students must prepare a detailed (20 pages) research proposal and present a seminar on this proposal to the department within six months of enrolment. Register your research proposal with the Dean of Postgraduate Studies within six months of enrolment. Submit progress reports to the Dean of Postgraduate studies every year.
Find out more
For more detailed information about the UC PhD visit www.canterbury.ac.nz/postgraduate/phd-and-doctoral-study/
UC works closely with accounting institutes to ensure you are well prepared and qualified for your career. We organise regular Accounting Institute Days where accounting institutes introduce students to their organisations and run one-on-one advice settings for students looking at professional pathways. We advertise these days through LEARN emails and run ads for them in some of your lectures.
While the BCom has specific majors in Accounting and Accounting and Taxation, the accreditation pathway may not require a specific Accounting degree. Accounting institutions instead prescribe papers that need to be studied, whether within an Accounting or Accounting and Taxation major, or in any other study.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the global body for professional accountants.
To become an ACCA member you will need to complete an ACCA Qualification. This involves completing 14 exams (nine of which you may be exempt from depending on previous qualifications), obtaining three years relevant supervised practical experience (PER) and completing a Professional Ethics module.
- Find out more information about the ACCA exam and syllabus.
CPA is one of the world's largest accounting bodies and believes the work of professional accountants is fundamental to the stability, efficiency and sustainability of individual companies, financial markets and the economies of entire countries. A CPA is a highly qualified finance, accounting and business professional.
The CPA Program is a postgraduate accounting program that combines professional education with three years’ relevant practical experience, ensuring you gain both the technical and commercial skills required to stand out.
- Use CPA's course search to see which programmes are prerequisites for entry into the programme.
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) is the membership body of choice for over 110,000 accounting and business professionals, working around New Zealand and across the globe.
UC Business School frequently hosts international visitors, often as participants in the Erskine programme. Fellows contribute to the department's seminars and research.
The UC Accounting Society aims to enhance the student experience of all accounting students and others who are interested in accounting. AccSoc offers career development enhancement through a range of workshops and tutorials, combined with the opportunity to connect with others, build confidence and develop those all-important soft skills through a multitude of social events. Check them out on Facebook.
Learn from our students' experiences
'We are constantly meeting new people, including CFOs and senior managers of large companies...'
'Accounting is an ever expanding field – it all depends on maximising your potential...'
'Having studied and worked at UC, I have a wide range of experience and an extensive network...'
'I had great lecturers and mentors, including several that encouraged me to pursue my PhD...'
For more information on studying Accounting
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News, events and seminars
In partnership with MYOB, the University of Canterbury is helping students get ahead with hands-on courses on the use of ...
A lecture in honour of June Pallot, Professor of Accounting at Canterbury University from 1997-2004.