Taxation and Accounting


Bachelor of Commerce 
Bachelor of Commerce with Honours
Master of Commerce 
Doctor of Philosophy


Professor Adrian Sawyer 

Professor Adrian Sawyer, Taxation and Accounting, awarded the Australasian Tax Teachers Association Hill Medal in 2015 in recognition of outstanding contributions to tax teaching and policy in Australasia.

Taxation is much more than interpreting and applying legislation. Societies need taxation in order to redistribute wealth, to provide for expenditure on public goods and services, as well as serve as a tool to influence behaviour.

Specifically, taxation is a core area within the broader fields of accounting and law, drawing together concepts from these disciplines, with those from economics. More recently knowledge and theories in a number of other disciplines, such as psychology and sociology, have been applied to assist with a greater understanding of the impact of taxation on society.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand recognise the importance of studies in taxation, with courses containing taxation content included in their ‘core’ and ‘accounting and/or business related’ academic requirements. Studying taxation will equip you with the skills and knowledge to become a taxation specialist within the accounting profession, a commercial professional or a chartered accountant.

Why study Taxation and Accounting at UC?

Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Taxation and Accounting is a pathway to external qualifications and membership of CPA Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), and other professional accounting bodies internationally.

Taxation courses are taught by staff at UC who have been formally recognised as excellent teachers and guest lectures from leading professionals are incorporated to enable a wider appreciation of tax issues faced in practice.

The courses provide a balance of legal, accounting and practical perspectives that provide a thorough preparation for a professional career. Students are introduced to academic and practice-informed research into current tax issues by the third year.

Recommended preparation

While some previous study of accounting is useful preparation, it is not essential to have studied accounting at secondary school.

Competence in spoken and written English communication is essential for both taxation and accountancy studies.

With the growing importance and use in accountancy of mathematical methods and statistical tools, a background in mathematics and statistics is strongly recommended for Taxation and Accounting majors.

Students with very good Year 13 results in accounting may be offered direct entry to 200-level Accounting courses at the discretion of the Head of Department.


100-level courses

The first-year, 100-level courses required to be taken for a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Taxation and Accounting are:

If you are planning to major in Taxation and Accounting you should take ACCT102 and ACCT103 in your first year. ACCT152 or LAWS101 should be taken preferably in your first year of study but may be taken in your second year of study.

For Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand membership, both ECON104 and ECON105 are required, as are ACCT152 (or LAWS101), INFO123 and ACCT103 at 100-level. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) also have requirements which can be referenced.

200-level and beyond

Later courses provide a more detailed treatment of the topics introduced at 100-level. At the conclusion of ACCT254 Introduction to Taxation you will have a working knowledge of income tax (income and deductions), the Goods and Services Tax and Fringe Benefit Tax. You will also understand the concepts of residence and source, and aspects of tax administration.

Courses at 300-level build on the foundations laid in earlier study, considering a range of topics including tax planning, avoidance and evasion, international taxation, taxation of e-commerce, taxation of investments, company taxation, ethics, tax policy, taxation of charities, and further aspects of tax administration and compliance.

For the complete, three-year Bachelor of Commerce Taxation and Accounting major degree plan see the School of Business and Economics website.

Career opportunities

As a specialist in Taxation and Accounting you will be able to enter a variety of organisations. For example, as a taxation specialist or accountant in chartered accounting firms, accountancy practices, government organisations (including Inland Revenue and the Treasury), business and commercial enterprises, non-profit organisations, banking and financial services, management consultancies, education organisations, law firms and obtain interesting, well-paid work around the world.

Many Taxation and Accounting students aspire to become chartered accountants through Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, CPA (Australia) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). For this membership your BCom degree must include specific courses. For further details contact the Department of Accounting and Information Systems.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Taxation and Accounting.

More information

Department of Accounting and Information Systems

Phone +64 3 364 2613

College of Business and Law
Reception Level 2, Business and Law building

Postal address
Department of Accounting and Information Systems
College of Business and Law
University of Canterbury
Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand