Professional Ethics module
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The Professional Ethics module will help you to identify and resolve ethical dilemmas that you may encounter as a professional accountant – read on to find out how…
Why study ethics?
Ethics is central to the ACCA Qualification. Values, ethics, and governance are themes which organisations are now embedding into their business plans – and expertise in these areas is highly sought after in today's employment market. ACCA has adopted a holistic approach to your ethical development. The topic is pervasive in the exam syllabus, practical experience requirements, and the new Professional Ethics module.
Who has to take the module?
All students registering for the ACCA Qualification from 1 January 2007 are required to complete the Professional Ethics module. Along with the exams and practical experience requirements, completion of the Professional Ethics module is now a requirement for ACCA membership.
If you registered before 1 January 2007 and will be transferring over to the ACCA Qualification in mid-August, you are not required to complete the Professional Ethics module. However, ACCA strongly recommends that you do. It will enhance your ethical development and assist you with the increased emphasis on professionalism and ethics assessed in the exams – especially in Paper P1, Professional Accountant – and also your practical experience.
And it will not increase the pressure of passing more assessments. The Professional Ethics module is not marked – so you will not pass or fail. Instead, the focus is on engaging with the material covered in the module, and allowing a period of time to reflect on what you have learned. The only status ACCA will record is 'complete' or 'incomplete'. You will be classified as having completed the module when you have worked through all nine units and submitted a paragraph to ACCA explaining what you have personally gained from the learning experience.
You are given access to the Professional Ethics module when you become eligible to take Paper P1, Professional Accountant. ACCA recommends that you take the module at the same time as, or before, attempting Paper P1. That said, you can complete the module when you feel the time is right, but it must be completed before you apply for ACCA membership if you registered after 1 January 2007.
Students will also be reassured to know that there is no set time allocated to completing the Professional Ethics module. In fact, ACCA encourages you to complete the module over a period of time to allow you to reflect on what you have learned, and to progress through the various stages at your own pace.
'The important thing is for students to engage with the material,' advises Aude Leonetti, ACCA's director of education. 'We want students to work through the module and really think about the consequences of their actions. Time is an artificial concept in this kind of learning environment, where issues such as an Internet connection speed can be a determining factor. And because we're trying to encourage reflective learning as an approach to this module, I would encourage students to work through one or two units at a time, take time to think about the information, then go back to the module and work through a few more units,' she adds.
So what can you expect the module to be like? It consists of nine units – detailed in table 1 (see below) – each designed to help you understand what it means to think and act as a professional accountant. Sometimes, without you even realising, your personal values can get in the way of your professional ethics. As accounting students, you have been learning the technical aspects of your chosen profession, and may not have spent much time thinking about your own values, how you make decisions, and how you may be influenced in making those decisions. The Professional Ethics module includes some exercises to help you explore these issues. Then, when you are faced with a difficult decision and find yourself applying the fundamental principles of your profession, you will be better prepared to apply your professional judgement rather than your personal beliefs.
TABLE 1: PROFESSIONAL ETHICS MODULE UNITS
|2||Judging the acceptability of arguments|
|3||What is ethics?|
|4||Rules vs principles|
|5||About ACCA's fundamental principles|
|8||Applying what you have learned|
|9||Tell us what you have learned|
Looking at some of the units within the Professional Ethics module more closely:
- Unit 2 gives you the opportunity to judge the acceptability of arguments for and against some difficult decisions. It is therefore important that you give careful consideration to these arguments, and there is great value in discussing these with your friends and colleagues. The objective is to help you see what kinds of arguments might make you change your mind. Providing you with this valuable knowledge about yourself will be useful when you are a qualified accountant, where you may be faced with a difficult decision and find that people are trying to influence your decisions or behaviour.
- Unit 3 contains a brief overview of ethical schools of thought to help you recognise your own personal values in the context of established theory.
- Unit 7 is an interactive case study. Based on a realistic scenario and using computer animation, the unit provides the opportunity to apply what you have learned from other units by evaluating information, assessing the consequences of your actions, and making ethical judgements. The case study is a chance for you to practice your ethical decision-making skills and will provide you with feedback on all the decisions you make.
- Unit 8 gives you further practice at making ethical decisions. Within this module you are presented with five situations. For each one, you are required to select what you think is the best solution, and obtain feedback on your decision.
- In Unit 9, you are required to write a short paragraph about what you have learned from completing the module. 'We're looking for an indication that the student has grasped the objectives of the Professional Ethics module and can describe some aspect of that learning experience to us,' explains Leonetti.
Designed for your convenience
The Professional Ethics module is delivered through an online learning management system. It tracks your progress through the module and records the status of each unit, allowing you to see which units you have completed and which ones you still need to complete. The system will also record the length of time you spend within each unit of the module.
Most units include short tests so that you can be sure that you understand the material covered and you can also go back and review the material at any time.
TRIED AND TESTED
ACCA has completed extensive research in order to develop and test the Professional Ethics module. This included a two-month formal review which involved the module being assessed by industry experts, educationalists, and students from around the world. 'I have learned a lot regarding ethics,' commented one student who reviewed the module. 'There is more to ethics than I thought. I have learned about different ethical perspectives and how ethical views can differ between individuals.'
The online Professional Ethics module will be available at the end of August 2007. It will accessed via myACCA when you become eligible to take the module. ACCA strongly encourages students to complete the online version of the Professional Ethics module. However, if you do not have Internet access, please contact ACCA Connect either by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone +44 (0)141 582 2000 and alternative arrangements will be made for you.