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Study Accounting at Otago

Everyone uses accounting in their everyday lives – whether they know it or not.

Online banking, StudyLink, KiwiSaver – all involve accounting concepts.

Accounting is the art and science of measuring, interpreting and communicating financial information.

At Otago, we have a range of interesting and challenging study options in accountancy – and as accountancy is a professional course, you’ll have the opportunity to join one of New Zealand’s professional accountancy bodies.

Why study Accountancy?

Accounting is the financial language of business and non-profit organisations. As such, it is probably the most useful tool you can have when entering the business or non-profit world. If you understand the concepts and terminology of accounting, you will have a good grasp of business problems and their solutions.

Accounting is about providing financial information to help organisations plan and meet their various financial, tax or audit obligations. Creating user-friendly, flexible reports requires a team focus and the ability to incorporate other types of information.

Accountants can really make a difference in an organisation. Otago accounting graduates usually gain decision-making roles after a short time in the workplace. Far from being bean counters, they have a dynamic, challenging role. No matter what career you’re aspiring to, you will find accounting skills invaluable.

Background required

There are no required subjects to study accountancy – you don’t even have to have studied it at school. The subject continues to evolve as technology advances to allow new financial insights to be explored. Subjects that collate, record and analyse data, and subjects using English communication, would be helpful.

Careers opportunities

For an Otago accounting graduate, the world really is your playground. Many graduates start their careers in chartered accountancy firms, often working in taxation or auditing or as advisers to a range of businesses. For many, this is a stepping stone; within three or four years they move on to larger organisations such as government departments, businesses and non-profit organisations and within 10 years, their skills may have earned them a management rather than an accounting role.

New Zealand’s leading accounting firms express a strong preference for Otago-trained graduates, so look out for our recruitment fairs held in early March each year.

Many employers prefer Otago accounting graduates. They particularly like students that engage in the variety of social, extra-curricular and academic opportunities that Otago offers.

Accountancy at Otago

Accountancy is a major of the Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), a three-year degree programme.

Accounting falls into two main areas:

  • Financial accounting, which is largely about producing financial information about organisations for people outside those organisations.
  • Management accounting, which is about record-keeping, planning, monitoring and decision-making within organisations.

In your first year, you will learn the basic concepts, principles and techniques of accounting. You’ll learn how to produce financial statements used by most organisations and how accounting systems meet the information requirements of organisations – plans, forecasts, results. We also provide opportunities to develop critical thinking, financial analytic and communication skills, as these are attributes that are highly valued by employers and graduates.

Beyond first year, you’ll develop these basic skills and learn more about the role of accounting in different contexts. Increasingly, accountants help measure and analyse data and provide advice on sustainable business practices, with social, environmental and governance reports now common additions to traditional accounting reports.

Teaching style

The first year is lecture- and tutorial-based. In subsequent years, most teaching takes place in seminar groups. You’ll also carry out case studies, practical work on computers – particularly using Excel and financial databases – and group sessions where you and your colleagues organise your own projects and develop your communication skills.

Double major/degree options

Many students do a double major or double degree, such as a BCom in accounting and a Bachelor of Laws. Majors in information systems or finance are other good combinations. Other students choose to study accounting papers to enhance their other degrees, such as arts, physical education and science. No matter what degree you’re studying, accounting is invaluable.

Professional options

To enhance and add value to your Otago BCom in accounting, we recommend you become a member of one or more of the professional accounting associations. If you wish to work in New Zealand as a public practitioner or auditor, the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), or Certified Practising Accountants (CPA Australia) are the pathways to take.

Otago’s Department of Accountancy and Finance has connections with several professional associations to suit different career aspirations:


Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.

Programme requirements

Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) majoring in Accounting

Level Papers Points

BSNS 112  Interpreting Business Data

BSNS 114  Financial Decision Making

BSNS 115  Accounting and Information Systems

ACCT 102  Principles of Accounting

BSNS 111 Business and Society, BSNS 113 Economic Principles and Policy – must normally be taken in first year of study







ACCT 211  Financial Accounting and Reporting

ACCT 222  Cost and Management Accounting

At least one of ACCT 233  Fundamentals of Accounting for Financial Decisions or ACCT 260  Introduction to Accounting Analytics





ACCT 302 Accounting Performance Management or ACCT 307 Management Accounting

ACCT 310 Statement Analysis or ACCT 315 Advanced Financial Accounting

Two further 300-level papers (one must be an ACCT paper, and the other must be an ACCT, ACFI or FINC paper)





126 further points; must include 54 points at 200-level or above. Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Commerce.


Every programme must include BSNS 111-115. At least three of these papers must be passed before enrolling in any 200-level Commerce paper, and all must normally be passed before enrolling in any 300-level Commerce paper. For single-degree BCom students, all five must be attempted in the first year of study or equivalent.

STAT 110 or STAT 115 will be accepted as an alternative to BSNS 112 as a required paper or as part of the major subject requirements or as a prerequisite when:
(a) the paper has been passed before the student has enrolled for a BCom degree; or
(b) a student is enrolling for both a BCom and another degree for which STAT 110 or STAT 115 is required.

Total 360

Bachelor of Commerce with Honours (BCom(Hons)) in Accounting


* Students who have previously completed ACFI 359 or an acceptable research methods papers from another university may substitute an additional paper from ACCT 401-499, BSNS 401 for ACFI 459.

No new enrolments will be accepted for this subject for 2024.

Postgraduate Diploma in Commerce (PGDipCom) in Accounting



Additional 300-level papers may be required of students who have not majored in Accounting for a BCom degree.

Master of Accounting and Finance (MAccFin)

The 180 point programme of study shall consist of:

Plus papers to the equivalent of 80 points from ACCT 403-414, ACCT 499, and FINC 402-499 (excluding FINC 480), and including at least one paper from ACCT and one from FINC.

Master of Commerce (MCom) in Accounting

  • Thesis: ACCT 5

Minor subject requirements

Accounting as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BEntr, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree

Level Papers Points

ACCT 102 Principles of Accounting

BSNS 115 Accounting and Information Systems



200 and 300-level Three ACCT or ACFI papers above 100-level, including at least one 300-level ACCT paper


Total   90


Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
ACCT102 2023 Principles of Accounting 18 points Semester 1, Semester 2
ACCT211 2023 Financial Accounting and Reporting 18 points Semester 1
ACCT222 2023 Cost and Management Accounting 18 points Semester 2
ACCT233 2023 Fundamentals of Accounting for Financial Decisions 18 points Semester 1
ACCT260 2023 Introduction to Accounting Analytics 18 points Semester 2
ACCT302 2023 Accounting Performance Management 18 points Semester 2
ACCT306 2023 Accounting Information Systems and Analytics 18 points Semester 2
ACCT307 2023 Management Accounting 18 points Semester 1
ACCT310 2023 Financial Statement Analysis 18 points Semester 2
ACCT315 2023 Advanced Financial Accounting 18 points Semester 1
ACCT325 2023 Corporate Sustainability Accounting and Reporting 18 points Not offered in 2023
ACCT360 2023 Advanced Accounting Analytics 18 points Semester 2
ACCT399 2023 Special Topic 18 points Not offered in 2023
ACCT404 2023 Empirical and Methodological Aspects of Financial Accounting 20 points Not offered in 2023
ACCT410 2023 Advanced Performance Management Accounting 20 points Not offered in 2023
ACCT411 2023 Literature Review 20 points Semester 2
ACCT414 2023 Sustainability Accounting and Reporting 20 points Not offered in 2023
ACCT480 2023 Dissertation or Case Study 40 points Full Year
ACCT499 2023 Special Topic 20 points Not offered in 2023
ACFI359 2023 Research Methods 18 points Not offered in 2023
ACFI459 2023 Advanced Research Methods 20 points Semester 1
ACFI501 2023 Applied Project 40 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period
ACFI580 2023 Research Project 40 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period
ACTP311 2023 Auditing Practice 18 points Semester 1
ACTP312 2023 Taxation Practice 18 points Semester 2

Key information for future students

Contact us

Department of Accountancy and Finance
Otago Business School