Lifelong Learning for a Brighter World

Jing Zhou, McMaster University Continuing Education Accounting graduate Jing Zhou, McMaster University Continuing Education Accounting graduate


Cheques and balances. It all adds up.

Work towards your CPA designation!

ACC 940 - Ethics and Workplace Skills C31

Academic Credit Value:
3 units
Course Delivery Mode:
Online Self-Study (OSS)
Hours of Study:
39 hours
Course Prerequisite(s):
All entry and technical courses must have been completed before taking Ethics and Workplace Skills
Course Anti-requisite(s):
Instructor Name:
Bharat Aggarwal
Course Dates:
05/15/2019 - 08/31/2019

Required Course Materials:
Andrew C. Wicks, R. Edward Freeman, Patricia H. Werhane and Kirsten E. Martin, Business Ethics: A Managerial Approach (Prentice Hall, Pearson Education Inc., 2010)
Optional Course Materials:
Course Description:
Ethics and Workplace Skills is a mandatory course that focuses on business ethics and communication. In this course, you will learn that ethics and communication are central to the credibility of those who analyze financial information for employers, clients and other financial users. You will also be introduced to the ACAF Method, which is a road map that you can use to navigate accounting and finance problems.
Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to:
• Explain and apply fundamental concepts of business ethics.
• Understand four basic moral principles as an approach to moral reasoning.
• Recognize and address ethical and social issues in business and accounting practice, at home and in a global context.
• Apply the ACAF Method.
• Apply the principles of effective writing.
• Adapt a message to audience needs and use appropriate tone.

Ethics and critical skills for students

Ethics is concerned with how we live with each other in families, in communities, in organizations, in societies and globally. There are areas of ethics where there is real agreement on what is right or wrong and what is good or bad. There are other areas where reasonable people will disagree. In this course, where there are significant important and reasonable disagreements, you will think and make decisions about them. It is important that you are able to reach your own conclusions about the various scenarios that are presented. In the assignments, you are expected to offer solid reasons for the ethical judgments that you make and weigh the reasons for legitimately different perspectives.
The ethics concepts that you will learn in this course are intended to apply as much to your work as a student as to your subsequent work as an ACAF holder. This encompasses not cheating on assignments, not plagiarizing the work of others, taking your share of responsibility in group assignments, and being respectful while interacting with facilitators and other students. Being an ethical student will help you acquire the skill set you need for your work as an ACAF holder.
While not professionally bound by a code of ethical conduct, ACAF holders should be reasonably aware of the ethical standards set for professionals, particularly CPAs. There are certain standards, such as independence and objectivity, that are directly relevant to all those working in the financial information sector.
Finally, this course is also designed to help you develop and demonstrate good communication skills. Clarity in expressing yourself is critical for sound thinking. It is also essential for working with employers, colleagues, clients and other stakeholders.

Course Evaluation
Assignments (3 in total) = 30%
Discussions                     = 10%
Final Exam                       = 60%
Course Format:
Assignment Submission:
Late Coursework:
Late assignments will be subject to a 2% per day late penalty (includes weekends and holidays) for up to seven (7) days. After this date, no assignments will be accepted and a grade of zero (0) will be applied.  Extensions for course work must be approved by the instructor before the due date (see Academic Regulations below), and will be granted for illness or emergencies only. Students may be asked to submit supporting documentation for an extension request.   NOTE:  This policy applies to assignments and other hand in type coursework only.  This policy does not apply to discussion board topics/postings which do not allow for late postings/contributions.

Policy & Procedures:

Academic Regulations (Attendance, Coursework, Tests/Exams):
In accordance with McMaster University’s General Academic Regulations, “it is imperative that students make every effort to meet the originally scheduled course requirements and it is a student’s responsibility to write examinations as scheduled.” Therefore, all students are expected to attend and complete the specific course requirements (i.e. attendance, assignments, and tests/exams) listed in the course outline on or by the date specified.  Students who need to arrange for coursework accommodation, as a result of medical, personal or family reasons, must contact the course instructor within 48 hours of the originally scheduled due date. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the Program Manager/Program Associate to discuss accommodations and procedures related to deferred tests and/or examinations within 48 hours of the originally scheduled test/exam, as per policy.  Failure to contact the course instructor, in the case of missed coursework, or the Program Manager/Program Associate, in the case of a missed test/examination, within the specified 48 hour window will result in a grade of zero (0) on the coursework/exam and no further consideration will be granted.  

*Note: Supporting documentation will be required but will not ensure approval of accommodation(s).

Academic Integrity
You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity. Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:
Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
Improper collaboration in-group work.
Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.
Academic Accommodations:
Students with disabilities who require academic accommodations must contact the Student Accessibility Centre (SAS) to meet with an appropriate Disability Services Coordinator. To contact SAS, phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652, or email For further information, consult McMaster University’s Policy for Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities.
On-line Elements:
In this course, we will be using on-line elements, which may include email, Avenue to Learn, WebEX, and external web sites.  Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.
Course Changes:
The instructor reserves the right to modify elements of the course and will notify students accordingly.
Course Withdrawal Policy:
Policies related to dropping a course and course withdrawals are posted to the Centre for Continuing Education’s program webpage, FAQs & Policies ( 
Storm Closure Policy:
In the event of inclement weather, the Centre for Continuing Education will abide by the University’s Storm Closure Policy:, and will only close if the University is closed. All in-class courses, exams and room bookings by internal and external clients will be cancelled if the Centre for Continuing Education is closed. On-line courses will take place as scheduled.
Grading Scale:
 Grade Equivalent
Grade Point
Equivalent Percentages
A+ 12 90-100
A 11 85-89
A- 10 80-84
B+ 9 77-79
B 8 73-76
B- 7 70-72
C+ 6 67-69
C 5 63-66
C- 4 60-62
D+ 3 57-59
D 2 53-56
D- 1 50-52
F 0 0-49
Course Schedule:
 Unit 1: Introduction to the ACAF Method


• Outline the steps in the ACAF Method.

• Apply the ACAF Method to tackle a typical exam scenario.

• Apply the ACAF Method to assignments and exams.


• Textbook: Chapter 1 – The Language of Ethics

• Textbook: Chapter 2 – A Look at the Sources of Ethical Problems in Business and How to Prevent Them

Unit 2: Communication


• Create a standardized memo format.

• Understand the writing problem and create specific, action-oriented writing goals.

• Analyze your intended audience and adapt your communication to that audience.

• Arrange ideas and information in a logical structure.

• Identify ways to structure your content to improve readability.

• Create a memo that is concise, simple and clear, and uses the five techniques to improve readability.


• Textbook: Chapter 3 – Ethics, Stakeholders, Corporate Strategy, and Value Creation

Unit 3: Ethics Fundamentals


• Explain the meaning of ethics and the three basic approaches to ethics and how they connect to business situations.

• Write a clear and well-reasoned memorandum with respect to an ethical choice situation in a business context that has been analyzed using the ACAF Method.

• Contrast ethics for competitors with ethics appropriate within the firm.

• Explain the prominent management theories; the main perspectives in ethics, economics and psychology on human motivation; and the typical forces affecting ethical decision-making in organizations.

• List and explain the major factors influencing the global business environment and those particularly affecting the Canadian business environment.


• Textbook: Chapter 1 – Language of Ethics

Unit 4: Ethics - Your Responsibilities (Part 1)


• Explain how the fundamental objectives of the ACAF program apply to ethical issues related to accounting and finance that ACAF holders are likely to face, and how the principles of ethical communication apply to ACAF holders.

• Compare and contrast economic and ethics perspectives of the principal-agent problem.

• Identify basic issues regarding the production and provision of financial information to relevant stakeholders.


• Textbook: Chapter 6 – Marketing and Operations

• Textbook: Chapter 7 – Finance and Accounting

• Case: The Loyal Agent’s Argument

Unit 5: Ethics - Your Responsibilities (Part 2)


• Identify the main areas in which ethical issues confront managers; differentiate amoral and moral approaches to management; explain important developments in the management of individuals and relationships; and identify significant current and emerging “change factors” facing managers in private, public and not-for-profit organizations in Canada, including diversity and non-discrimination in the workplace.

• Identify core ethical values and principles in Canada as well as the resources for interpreting them that are available from Canada’s accounting profession, including the five core values in the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants’ Code of Ethics.

• Identify common threats to independence in mind and appearance, and safeguards to protect independence.

• Identify business considerations and ethical standards in establishing business relationships across borders.


• Textbook: Chapter 4 – Business Ethics is a Global Marketplace

• Textbook: Chapter 8 – Management

• International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants Handbook

• Independence Provisions from Section 290 of the Code - IESBA

Unit 6: Accounting and Accountability Objectives:

• Explain the basic principles of individual and organizational accountability.

• Describe the general features of social and environmental accounting and triple bottom line measures.

• Review the course and understand good study habits.

• Explain the importance of business ethics and communication in the ACAF program and your career.


• The Triple Bottom Line: What is It and How Does it Work? – Indiana Business Research Centre

Final Examination