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The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

Study accounting and finance

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A career in accounting and finance continues to be one of the most sought-after and rewarding professions in the world. Accountancy skills are valuable to corporations that need to manage their accounts, conduct audits, plan budgets and make financial investments. The field is very closely associated with risk management, one of the most important departments of investment banking.


You can study this subject at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, or possibly even both, depending on your interest in the field. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essentials of studying an accounting and finance course to help you on your way.


How long is an undergraduate accounting and finance degree?

It depends on the country that you decide to pursue an accounting and finance course. So, most countries structure this degree across three years, but Canada is an exception with accountancy courses typically lasting four years.



 Before applying for a course, we advise that you look carefully at the modules on offer at that institution as there can be wide variation.


In general, though, you can expect an accounting and finance course to cover topics such as financial accounting; financial markets; statistical research; corporate finance; corporate investment; risk management; management and managerial accounting; statement analysis; behavioural economics; corporate and commercial law; taxation; pricing and international accounting. These modules intend to train professionals with high numeracy and accounting skills to be able to analyse and produce financial data and make financial decisions.


How long is a postgraduate accounting and finance degree?

Most of the full-time postgraduate courses for accounting and finance require one year of commitment. However, courses with placement as part of the degree can extend up to two years. Each semester you are expected to study four to eight modules. The assessment for these modules tends to be based on examinations, coursework, tests and a dissertation.


To pursue accounting and finance at the postgraduate level, you will usually be expected to have prior knowledge of the subject. This may mean studying accounting and/or finance at the undergraduate level or a similar field such as economics and maths, but you would need to check the university website to make sure.


What are the entry requirements?

Grade expectations for undergraduate accountancy and finance courses vary greatly depending on the university and your country of origin (in relation to the type of qualifications you have gained in your home country and how these convert abroad). But the following entry requirements can be used as a guide when applying for accountancy and finance courses:


  • Eligible students will need decent grades such as AAB-ABB, but this is just a guide so make sure you check with specific institutions
  • High grades in relevant subjects at A-level (or equivalent) such as maths, economics or physics
  • A high level of English language proficiency as outlined by specific universities
  • A personal statement that expresses your passion for the subject


Overall, it’s important that you enjoy and are good with numbers as this is a compulsory skill for an accountant, banker, financial adviser and so on. Such programmes are competitive as people recognise the employability prospects of a career in the finance sector. Every company needs employees to handle their accounts and so there are plenty of opportunities for work.  


At the postgraduate level, students typically need a 2:1 (or equivalent) to be accepted onto a master's course in accounting and finance. However, make sure you check the specific university requirements as these will vary according to each institution and country.


Key skills

An accounting and finance degree will equip you with a range of useful skills and expertise that can be added to or applied to various roles. Some of the core skills you will develop include:


  • Problem-solving
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Business acumen
  • Ability to argue and negotiate
  • Communication skills
  • Commercial awareness


Each of these skills is also highly transferrable, not only in accounting and finance roles but also in business management, consultancy and banking. 


Future academic and career prospects

The competition in this industry can be intense, which is why it would be a good idea to gain some work experience while you study by taking up internships, placements and part-time jobs.


Accounting certifications including Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)Chartered Management Accountant (CMA)Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Chartered Accountancy (CA) can be very strong compliments to the degree of accounting and finance. These certifications can be attained at any point in your career and are highly valuable for professional growth.


The corporate world has a high demand for graduates and experts in the field of accounting and finance for carrying out the key financial procedures. All financial bodies, banks, multinational corporations and stock markets need accountants. The importance of accountants is no less for smaller businesses, but their requirements can be satisfied by a smaller team of accountants and financial managers.


Employment prospects

Pretty much every company needs to consider their finances. This means that there are many opportunities for accounting and finance graduates across different sectors. These professions include:


  • Stockbroker
  • Auditor
  • Chartered accountant
  • Economist
  • Tax advisor
  • Data analyst
  • Risk assessment


Wondering how employable this degree can be? We’ve used the UK as a point of reference in the below graphic to give you an idea of what to expect when graduating with an accounting and finance degree. This graph indicates which direction accounting and finance graduates follow after graduation.



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