Sustainability & ESG Reporting

ACC413 Sustainability & ESG Reporting

Spring 2024

  • Topics

    Companies today face increasing stakeholder and regulatory pressure to not only integrate environmental and social sustainability in their business practices but also transparently communicate to the relevant stakeholders and community at large. Consequently, sustainability reporting has evolved from a voluntary practice to an expected activity, and even mandatory requirement in many jurisdictions.

    These recent developments have seen sustainability reporting, also referred to as ESG reporting or "non-financial" disclosures, increase both in terms of breadth and depth, while at the same time becoming more standardised. Hence companies are required to build capacity, especially in the form of human resource with the right knowledge, skills, and competence in order to meet the ever-increasing expectations of sustainability related communications.

    In this background, the aim of the course is to introduce key frameworks and concepts to the students in order to develop a critical mindset in the domain of sustainability and ESG reporting. The course will introduce the concept of sustainability reporting, guidelines around sustainability or ESG reporting, implications of such ESG parameters for companies (e.g. ESG rating, sustainable finance) and relevant regulatory standards and frameworks. The course covers sustainability reporting from both the producer’s perspective and the consumer’s perspective as well as it takes into consideration both the positive and the normative approach to sustainability reporting practices. Given this is an evolving landscape, the course focuses on providing students with the conceptual understanding of sustainability reporting, so that they are well prepared for future developments. In this way, the course is relevant for students who expect to work directly or indirectly with sustainability, for instance within accounting and auditing, finance, consulting, strategy and so on.

    In terms of detail course plan, first, the course introduces the what and why of sustainability reporting i.e., the concept of sustainability and sustainability reporting in general, how it ties together with the value creation of a company and the wider importance it has to the society. Next, we introduce the concept of "materiality" - an essential topic within sustainability reporting that forms the basis for how a company has to report. Subsequently, a main section of the course concerns the three major EU directives and the upcoming European Sustainability Reporting Standards. This section also discusses international reporting frameworks that are used worldwide (e.g. GRI, SASB). Moving away from the producer perspective, the course further covers how to audit sustainability reporting and how to analyse a company’s sustainability performance. Finally, the course also looks at how sustainability reporting can be used as a tool for management control.

  • Learning outcome

    Upon successful completion of the course the student:


    • can demonstrate a conceptual understanding of sustainability reporting and the importance of sustainability reporting
    • is familiar with and can differentiate between relevant international and regional reporting standards and regulations
    • can demonstrate an understanding of the sustainability reporting auditing process
    • can demonstrate knowledge of the critical issues surrounding sustainability reporting, recent research and future trends


    • can read, prepare and assess a sustainability report with regards to its content, quality, and structure, in line with the relevant regulatory requirements, at an advanced level
    • can identify key material issues and analyse the respective ESG performance of a company using the sustainability report

    General competence

    • can communicate with experts in both academia and industry about critical issues in sustainability reporting
    • can use relevant concepts for strategic decision making with regard to sustainability reporting and ESG performance
    • can demonstrate an understanding of the key ethical issues and dilemmas with regard to a company’s sustainability reporting and ESG performance

  • Teaching

    Physical classes that combine traditional lectures and casework and dedicated workshops. All classes except workshops are recorded. Students are strongly encouraged (expected) to participate in class

  • Restricted access

    ACC413 was offered autumn 2022. Due  to unforeseen circumstances  ACC430 had to be cancelled, and to compensate for this ACC413 will be offered to MRR-students also in the spring semester of 2023.  ACC430 was a mandatory course for one-year MRR-students, and ACC413 is now replacing ACC430 as a mandatory course for these students in spring 2023. Two-year MRR students had limited possibility to take ACC413 autumn 2022 due to other mandatory courses, and they are also allowed to take ACC413 in the spring semester of 2023, but it is not mandatory. Due to capacity restraints, only MRR students can take ACC413 in spring 2023.

  • Credit reduction due to overlap

    ACC413 replaces BUS471, and cannot be combined with BUS471. 

  • Compulsory Activity

    Course approval requires one of the following:

    • Completion of six multiple-choice quizzes (Canvas)
    • Class attendance of at least 75 percent (i.e., 11 lectures)

  • Assessment

    Written 4 hour digital school exam.

    Students can write the final exam in both English and Norwegian. 

  • Grading Scale


  • Literature

    Selected book chapters and scientific papers provided on Canvas and relevant reporting standards.

  • Permitted Support Material

    All written support material permitted (category III). 

    Access to specific websites will be permitted during the exam.

    One bilingual dictionary (Category I)


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ECTS Credits
Teaching language
The course will be taught in English. 

Spring. Will be offered Spring 2024.

Course responsible

Postdoctoral Fellow Hussnain Bashir, Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law (Main Course Responsible)

Associate Professor Ibrahim Pelja, Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law