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Final year students receive prizes for exceptional essays

30 September 2020

For the second year, Sam Bell, Lecturer in Accounting has awarded prizes for exceptional essays submitted as coursework for her final year Auditing unit.

The students, Lizzie Thornton, Josh Lewis, Martin Koh, Dami Olusanya, Xin Yi (Joanne) Cheong and Oliver Pattni were required to research and write an individual essay analysing a current audit issue of their choosing, drawing on relevant academic audit theories as a lens to assess the impact these issues may have on the profession.  

Lizzie picked a unique thesis examining the emerging technology of continuous online external auditing and the impact that this new approach may have on exisiting auditor independence. She excelled in her analysis showing advanced abilities to hypothesise and critically analyse particularly in an emerging area where there is a relative scarcity of academic literature. Her style of writing is commended for its clarity and precision.

Josh's essay explored Blockchain auditing using the lens of agency theory, showing extensive and critical research of views from both the academic literature and the profession. A strong understanding of agency theory from a breadth of sources was demonstrated and a clear and academic argument was carried throughout the piece. Although the Blockchain subject matter was a popular topic amongst the cohort, Josh's essay distinguished itself in the maturity of its approach and depth of analysis.  

Martin's essay addressed popular themes also selected by others across the cohort, namely the Expectation Gap and audit technology.  What distinguished Martin's essay was that his application of Expectation Gap theory was particularly strong indicating a breadth of scholarly research and understanding of the literature. Martin was able to link and critque the literature and the structure of his essay showed a consistent effort to address the question brief.

Dami examined a popular choice of current issue amongst the cohort, Data Analytics, but the essay stood out due to its use of a clear and measured argument and concise style. Dami was able to interpret a selection of academic auditor independence literature in order to support his assessment of this new technology, and was able to unpick auditor independence theory and demonstrate how to use the theories to support his own personal analysis and make hypotheses. 

Joanne's essay used the lens of auditing theory to critique the impact of the recent trends in offshoring the external audit function.  This approach meant Joanne developed a particularly timely, original and thought-provoking thesis which explored the emerging area of debate surrounding the internationalisation of auditing. Because of the unique thesis, Sam noted that the essay was particularly pleasing as it displayed a breadth of independent research showing careful and patient development of ideas. 

Finally, Oliver's essay adopted a novel approach, relating Mautz and Sharaf's seminal work on auditing theory to the very recent discourse surrounding audit market reforms. Oliver carefully crafted his essay to guide the reader logically through his discussion, and what made it a particularly accomplished piece of writing was that Oliver's own voice and opinion was present throughout the essay and he used a selection of appropriate evidence to support and enhance his argument rather than using the sources to dominate his essay. 

On the coursework, Sam Bell stated:

"The essay challenges students to develop their intellectual skills by asking them to not only read and understand the literature, but to go further to use these ideas to form their own critique and hypotheses. This year was particularly demanding, as given the restrictions caused by COVID-19,  students had to adapt to use online tools and feedback in order to develop their essays. It was pleasing to see that the overall quality of essays across the cohort improved particularly in terms of essay structure and the development of argument, following the introduction of an optional coursework skills session this academic year in response to student feedback. More students this year were able to narrow their chosen research question in order to produce the depth of analysis I was looking for.  

"The prize winning essays demonstrated engagement with relevant literature, an ability to critically analyse and a novel approach in terms of the subject chosen or method of argument which made them an informative and engaging read and exemplified our aim of encouraging research-led teaching."

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