GRA 6229 Ethics, Governance and Responsibility for Auditors

GRA 6229 Ethics, Governance and Responsibility for Auditors

Course code: 
GRA 6229
Law and Governance
Course coordinator: 
Caroline Dale Ditlev-Simonsen
Product category: 
Master of Accounting and Auditing
2019 Autumn
Active status: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

Today’s society faces large social and environmental challenges in a sustainable development setting. In the business world employees are facing ethical dilemmas which are increasingly complex due to internationalization and different cultural settings.

Knowledge of basic ethical and moral perspectives is crucial for auditors to analyze ethical situations and alternative possible actions. Good corporate governance is built on ethical awareness, implementation and follow-up, and ensures that the company fulfills its goals with regard to different stakeholders, such as managers, shareholders and boards of directors. Developing and implementing company codes of conduct, anti-corruption measures and environmental impact assessments are examples of good governance.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the responsibility of enterprises for their impact on society, covering how companies deal with environmental and social issues internally and externally. Some of these issues are based on regulations, while others are based on norms and soft laws. Different tools for management of the challenges and opportunities are available, nationally and internationally. Auditors need to be aware of these tools, and know how to apply them, to ensure transparency and reporting in line with the company’s responsibilities.

The course will provide students with knowledge of decision support models that can be applied to developing and reporting on companies’ levels of governance, responsibility and sustainability from a practical perspective to fulfill auditors’ responsibilities.

The course will be interactive and based on literature, lectures, cases and group discussions.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

The course is designed to provide:

  • Knowledge about key ethical theories and moral frameworks
  • Knowledge about ethical standards for auditors
  • Knowledge of corporate govenance and what it entails
  • Knowledge about the concept of corporate responsibility and key sustainability tools
  • Knowledge about the concept of corruption, development, dilemmas and responsibility
  • Knowledge about accounting for social responsible investment and impact assessment
Learning outcomes - Skills

The course is designed to provide abilities to:

  • Analyze different accounting related situations from an ethical and sustainability point of view
  • Assess corporate governance with respect to different stakeholders
  • Develop and implement a corporate social responsibility program in a company
  • Develop and implement good governance standards – including company code of conduct
  • Report on extra-financial information
  • Communicate with media in critical situations
General Competence

After the course the students should have the ability to:

  • Make independent and well reflected decisions on issues addressed in the course
  • Recognize opportunities and challenges in the field
  • Share, communicate and supervise others in the field
Course content

Key topics addressed in each 3-hour sessions (the order of topics might be changed):

  • Ethics and moral – theory, analysis and practice. Historical perspectives and todays relevance and application.
  • Corporate social responsibility and sustainability, theory and different practical tools like Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), UN Global Compact (UNGC)
  • How to develop corporate social responsibility (CSR) / sustainability program in a company, step by step. UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
  • Extra financial reporting, CSR/sustainability reporting, Integrated reporting (IIRC) and Greenhouse gas accounting (GHG)
  • Application of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) Corporate governance: principles and policies, objectives and structure, Stakeholder theory and management, sustainability and shareholders, investors, customers, NGOs etc.
  • Ethical guidelines for accountants (Den norske Revisorforeningens regler om etikk) – ethical dilemmas
  • Code of conduct – how to develop and implement code of conduct
  • Corporate governance – theories, standards, regulations and practice. Eierstyring og Selskapsledelse (NUES), OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises – introduction and application. How the national contact points follow up complaints 
  • Ethical investment - Social responsible investment (SRI) – what is responsible and what is irresponsible investment. Different approaches, including the Government Pension Fund Global – ethical guidelines, Social return on investment (SROI), how to account for social impact of activities.
  • Corruption – what is corruption and how to avoid and deal with it, whistleblowing schemes
  • Practical application of course content: Follow a company over several years in the application of sustainability process)
  • How to deal with media – including crisis management, principles and training
Teaching and learning activities

The course will be taught through lectures, guest lectures, dialogue, groupwork and presentations.

Group presentation one day. Assigned topic first day of course.

Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

Please note that while attendance is not compulsory in all courses, it is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class.

This is a course with continuous assessment (several exam components) and one final exam code. Each exam component is graded by using points on a scale from 0-100. The components will be weighted together according to the information in the course description in order to calculate the final letter grade for the examination code (course). Students who fail to participate in one/some/all exam elements will get a lower grade or may fail the course. You will find detailed information about the point system and the cut off points with reference to the letter grades when the course starts.

At resit, all exam components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course.


All courses in the Masters programme will assume that students have fulfilled the admission requirements for the programme. In addition, courses in second, third and/or fourth semester can have specific prerequisites and will assume that students have followed normal study progression. For double degree and exchange students, please note that equivalent courses are accepted.

Exam categoryWeightInvigilationDurationSupport materialsGroupingComment exam
Exam category:
Form of assessment:
Presentation and discussion
Exam code:
Grading scale:
Point scale
Grading rules:
Internal examiner
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
25No1 Semester(s)Group (2 - 8)Group size may depend on class size.
Exam category:
Form of assessment:
Written submission
Exam code:
Grading scale:
Point scale
Grading rules:
Internal and external examiner
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
75Yes3 Hour(s)
  • Bilingual dictionary
Individual .
Exam category:Activity
Form of assessment:Presentation and discussion
Grouping (size):Group (2-8)
Support materials:
Duration:1 Semester(s)
Comment:Group size may depend on class size.
Exam code: GRA62292
Grading scale:Point scale
Resit:All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Exam category:Submission
Form of assessment:Written submission
Grouping (size):Individual
Support materials:
  • Bilingual dictionary
Duration:3 Hour(s)
Exam code: GRA62292
Grading scale:Point scale
Resit:All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Continuous assessment
Grading scale: 
Total weight: 
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of at least 160 hours.