What is a Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting?

“After all the years of debate about the CF, there is still an impression of ‘unfinished business’. Conceptual frameworkers have yet to arrive where they started and do not ‘know the place’ for the first time. The latest version of the CF will not be the last. We may, again, hear the refrain ‘here we go again …’. “


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Dennis, I (2018) What is a Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting?, Accounting in Europe, 15:3, 374-401



With regard to the IASB Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting, explain the purpose of the Conceptual Framework, its impact on professional practice and critically discuss two areas that have been subject to review and debate over the past 10 years.

Your work should be presented in the form of a critical essay.


Presentational requirements

  1. Your essay should have an overall length of 2,000 words (plus or minus 10%). A word count MUST be given. In line with University Guidelines, you will be penalised for an essay excessively over the word count. All tables, diagrams,references and quotes made within the body of your essay are included in the word count. The bibliography and reference list given at the end of your essay is not included in the word count.
  1. The essay should be presented on A4 and typed in double line spacing in Verdana 11pt font with text justified.
  1. References to text, articles etc. should be cited using the “RGU Harvard” system of citation. A guide to RGU Harvard referencing is available online:


  1. Your name should not appear anywhere on your work.
  1. The final draft of your coursework should be submitted into the Moodle Dropbox which has a Turnitin plugin. The Turnitin report will be available for the marker to access online.

Coursework Guidance

This coursework examines Learning Outcome 1 from the Module Descriptor:

Independently research a financial reporting topic in order to develop a well-structured argument integrating theory with professional practice.

You have been asked to prepare an essay – not a report. This means that your submission will be less structured than a report but not less formal in its language and referencing. As indicated, you will be penalised for a word count excessively over or under 2,000 words. You are allowed 10% difference either way ie, the essay should not be less than 1,800 words nor more than 2,200.

In all points you raise for discussion, I am looking for depth of analysis rather than breadth. This means you should look at fewer issues but the ones you do examine, do it in more detail. In addition, you must ensure you consider the Framework’s impact on professional practice as part of your analysis of the issues. I have highlighted some areas and key points you may want to consider within the question set.

Identify and Explain the Guidelines

You only have 2,000 words to answer the whole question which means you can’t devote pages of your essay replicating various chapters and principles of the Framework. Your emphasis should be on ‘Explain’ rather than ‘Identify’. In order for your critical appraisal to make sense, you will have to set your discussion within the context of Conceptual Framework and the IASB documents, but you will have to summarise the contents heavily to ensure you have enough space to discuss all the issues you’d like and get a better mark.

Critical appraisal of key aspects

This is where your research will help you get a good grade. You need to choose two areas to discuss in depth in order to answer the question. Here are a few ideas of approaches you could consider:


What role does the Framework play in accounting, business and society?

What is the historical context of any issues identified and why are these issues so current and controversial?

What were the key criticisms aimed at the 2010 Converged chapters and have any of these been addressed by the IASB since?

Consider perspective – What are the advantages/disadvantages of examining accounting principles for the reporting entity itself or the report users/shareholders?

Consider whether any debate on the matter is justified – what impact does the Framework have in reality? Is it an academic argument only?

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list and is not a list of questions you need to ‘answer’. These aspects are highlighted to give you some ideas to begin your literature search.

A critical discussion involves explaining your issue with description and examples and then discussing and analysing opinions around that topic – like a debate of the main issues. Each opinion needs to be referenced and explained in the context of the issue you’re debating. Don’t just provide a quote and hope that it ‘speaks for itself’. You need to discuss the opinion expressed properly.

Use direct quotes sparingly. Most of the arguments and ideas you read should be put into your own words, properly referenced and formed into the arguments you’re setting out. Too many quotes make it look as though you haven’t understood the meaning of what you’ve read. Show me you can put an argument together.

Marking and weighting

Your coursework mark will be weighted as follows:

Presentation, language & structure 10%
Wide research and proper referencing 20%
Knowledge, Understanding & Explanation 40%
Critical analysis & discussion 30%

Further information on each section is detailed below:


Presentation, language and structure

Grammar and spelling

Presence of typing errors

Good layout

Good structure

Formal essay style

Wide research and proper referencing

Use of quality journals as well and web sites and technical articles

Correct and consistent referencing style (Harvard style required) in citations and reference list

Up to date references

Wide range of references (not Wikipedia and similar web sites!)

Use of academic journals, magazines, newspapers and textbooks

Knowledge, understanding and explanation

Identification of key debates

Clear explanation and demonstration of understanding of issues


Critical analysis and discussion

Good use of quotes and references to enforce debates and arguments

Ability to analyse various viewpoints within relevant debates and arguments

Synthesis of critical discussion

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