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Auditing and assurance AC3093

This course introduces students to the principles of external auditing and other assurance services.

Both theoretical and practical aspects of the audit process will be considered including recent developments in the organisation of the profession, the regulatory framework governing practitioners and factors affecting the future evolution of the practice of auditing and other assurance services.

Prerequisites / Exemptions

Prerequisite: A course that you must have ordinarily attempted all elements of before you are permitted to register for another particular course.

If taken as part of a BSc degree, courses which must be attempted before this course may be taken:

  • AC1025 Principles of accounting.

Topics covered

Reasons for auditing

  • The concept of accountability
  • Economic demand for auditing
  • Auditing as a monitoring device
  • The historical development of auditing practices.

Principles and postulates of auditing

  • Conditions for auditing to be possible
  • The concept of independence.

The legal and professional environment

  • Approaches to the regulation of auditing practice, in particular legal rules and professional guidelines
  • International regulation of auditing. (Note: candidates will be expected to be aware of the range of different approaches to auditor regulation and the general content of such regulations but will not be expected to know the detailed requirements of any specific country’s audit regulations.)

The duties of auditors

  • The changing responsibilities of auditors for fraud detection and financial statement attestation
  • The extent of auditors’ duties to primary clients and third parties
  • The ‘expectations gap’ between what users of financial statements believe the audit provides and what the audit is capable of offering.
  • Auditor liability and the case for and against limiting liability
  • Different levels of assurance that may be expressed in different assurance engagements.

Audit planning

  • Initial assessment of the client
  • The engagement letter
  • Risk-based approaches
  • Identification of key areas of audits and assurance services
  • Analytical procedures.

Conduct of audits and assurance services

  • The concept of evidence
  • Compliance and substantive testing
  • The concept of internal control
  • Identifying key controls and testing them
  • Statistical and other sampling approaches to testing
  • Specific audit techniques, such as observation, directional testing, cut-off tests, third-party confirmations
  • The application of techniques in the context of the main revenue and cost activities of the enterprise
  • Auditing the statement of financial position and income statement
  • The significance of management representations
  • Assessment of errors and weaknesses
  • Documenting the audit or assurance service, preparation and review of working papers.

Computer-based systems

  • Auditing ‘round’ and ‘through’ the computer
  • Internal control in a computer environment
  • Computer-assisted audit techniques
  • The use of computers in conducting the audit or assurance service, in particular spreadsheets, word-processing and automated working papers.

The report of the auditors or assurance service providers

  • The form and content of the auditors’ report
  • The qualified auditors’ report
  • The hidden meanings behind an auditors’ report
  • The report as an educational document.

Current developments in auditing and assurance services

  • Audit committees
  • Internal audit
  • Management audit
  • The economic value of auditing to society
  • The spread of auditing and other assurance services into non-financial contexts: the ‘Audit Society’
  • The role of auditors in the banking crisis and other scandals
  • Possible changes to enhance auditor independence and competence.

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • Explain why external audits and other types of assurance services are conducted
  • Discuss the duties of auditors and other assurance providers and how these have changed over time
  • Explain the meaning of concepts that are fundamental to auditing and assurance services, such as ‘independence’, ‘evidence’, ‘risk’, ‘materiality’
  • Describe, in general terms, the processes involved in auditing and other assurance services
  • Distinguish between compliance and substantive testing and describe various audit tests
  • Discuss the form, content and importance of the reports provided at the end of the audit or assurance service
  • Discuss the issue of legal liability arising from audits and other assurance services
  • Discuss current developments in auditing and assurance services.


Unseen written exam (3 hrs).

Essential reading

  • Gray, I. and S. Manson. The Audit Process. Thomson.
  • Porter, B., J. Simon and D. Hatherly Principles of external auditing. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Course information sheets

Download the course information sheets from the LSE website.