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Syllabus for IMT 583: Finance and Accounting Foundations for Information Professionals

by on September 2, 2010

Class Time: 4.30 PM – 7:20PM           MGH 271 (Tuesday)
Official Course Description: Introduction to financial accounting, including the principles of double-entry accounting, balance sheets, income, and cash flow statements. Covers key financial ratios and their use for various analytical purposes, along with the elements of a financial plan or budget.

Instructor Course Description:
This course will introduce you to the basics of financial and managerial accounting. The goal of this course is to provide information managers with the necessary vocabulary and tools required to succeed in their roles as organizational decision-makers. Regardless of your role (e.g., business analyst, project manager, information architect, etc.), knowledge of accounting and finance is critical to succeed in your present (and future) career. This course does not require prior knowledge of accounting or financial management.

Required Textbooks:

  • Hope, J. Reinventing the CFO, Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2006 [CFO]
  • Hope, T., and Hope, J. Transforming the Bottom Line, Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1996 [BL]
  • Walther, L. Principles of Accounting, Available Online at:, 2009

Assignments and Grading:

The course will comprise the following major assignments/projects. Please note, all due dates and submission requirements are firm and final. No changes will be made, and students are expected to plan around the assignment deadlines. General grading information for the University of Washington is available at: The iSchool has adopted its own criteria for grading graduate courses. The grading criterion used by the Information School is available at:

Reaction Statements and Reflective Responses (15%): Students will be required to write a 3–5 page reaction statement/reflective response to material presented and discussed in class. These statements should demonstrate reflective thinking on the subject matter discussed in class. To this end, it is important for each student to attend every class and participate in the class discussions. These statements should draw on material in the business press to bring in external sources of ideas, information, and evidence. Students will receive a grade of Good (3 PTS), Satisfactory (2 PTS), or Poor (1 PT) for each statement submitted. Students are free to choose the topics and dates on which they would like to turn in their statement. However, all students must turn in no fewer than 3 statements before November 25, 2009. For students who turn in more than 3 statements, the grade of the highest five will be taken into account.

In-Class Discussions (10%): Students will be required to participate in class discussions. Students must come to class prepared to give critical reflections on the readings and to provide creative comments to foster further understanding of the subject. Simply attending each class session is not sufficient; active participation in each class session is required.

Chapter Presentations (25%): Students will be required to present two chapters from Reinventing the CFO and Transforming the Bottom-Line. The presentation should not only cover material presented in the book, but also draw on external resources (e.g. case studies, company reports, news releases, etc) for illustrating salient concepts. Students should be prepared to deliver an interactive presentation with opportunities for audience interaction and a Q&A session. The presentations should be about 30 minutes, with 15 minutes for interactive discussion.

Research Paper (50%): Students will be required to write an exemplary research paper on any contemporary accounting or financial management issue. The paper can explore a contemporary topic (as in the case of the Emerging Issues Presentation) or a financial tool/technique (e.g., intellectual asset valuation models, etc). Students can choose to work in groups of two, or a student can complete the paper solo. Students should consult popular business magazines such as Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, and strategy+business, among others for ideas on suitable topics. In addition, reviewing websites, such as and, and newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal, will also prove to be valuable for identification of interesting topics. The specific due dates and milestones for the research paper are noted below. Please note: these dates are fixed and will not be modified for any reason. Please plan accordingly.

  • Oct. 13: Students must submit their topic for approval. A description of the topic, a statement on why the topic is important, and the type of analytical approach (i.e. how will the research question be studied) must be submitted
  • Oct. 15: Feedback provided on topics and if necessary, a revision is requested
  • Oct. 16: Topics are finalized
  • Nov. 15: First draft submitted for review. The first draft should be substantial and should clearly demonstrate progress made on the research paper. It is expected that the draft will contain a completed literature review, a synthesis of the critical issues and recommendations, and tentative conclusions
  • Nov. 17: Comments on first draft will be provided
  • Nov. 30: Final submission due. Discussants for each paper will be chosen. Discussants will be responsible for reading the paper, providing comments on it, and then leading the class discussion on the paper
  • Dec. 7. Research paper presentations and interactive discussions. Comments on final submissions will be provided

Class Schedule:

Week Date Topic Reading
1 Oct 5. Course Administration and Introduction to Accounting and Finance Walther [1, 17]; CFO [1], BL [1]
2 Oct.12 Processing Accounting Information and Income Measurement Walther [2-3], CFO [2-3]
3 Oct. 19 Financial Statements and Cash [Highly-Liquid] Investments; Accounts Receivable, Inventory, Long Term Investments Walther [4,6], CFO [4-5]; Walther [7-9], CFO [6-7]
4 Oct. 26 Neal Myrick ( [4:30-5:45]; Seaton Daly ( [6:00-7:20] Guest Speakers
5 Nov. 2 Property, Plant, and Equipment (PP&E), Current Liabilities Walther [10, 12], BL [2-3]
6 Nov. 9 TBD
7 Nov. 16 Managerial Accounting Walther [18, 20], BL [4-5]
8 Nov. 23 Corporate Reporting, Financial Analysis, Cash Flows Walther [15, 16], BL [6-7]
9 Nov. 30 Long-Term Obligations, Corporate Equity, Walther [13, 14], BL [8-9]
10 Dec. 7 Student Presentations and Discussion

Important Notes:

  1. When sending emails, please use the following structure for the email subject line: IMT 583 – Your Name – Issue/Concern (e.g. IMT 583 – Susan McGuiness – Appointment Request). Failure to use the following subject line format will result in 1) no response or 2) a delayed response.
  2. To schedule appointments, please send me an email.
  3. It is important that you attend every class. Since we meet only once a week, if you miss a class or two, it will be difficult (if not impossible) for you to understand material presented in future sessions.
  4. We are going to be using an online textbook ( Please ensure that you download PDF versions of the chapters and read them before each class session.  I would recommend that you download all chapters immediately (in case issues, such as server downtime, arise during the course).
  5. Please pay close attention to the course schedule. I reserve the right to change the schedule as needed based on how the class is progressing. The due dates for the assignments will not change.
  6. It is not possible, nor would it be desirable, to cover all of the material noted in the assigned readings during the class sessions. Class sessions will be used to highlight critical concepts and to demonstrate how they apply to the work of information managers and information organizations.
  7. If you choose to work in groups for term papers, please note 1) I will not micro-manage or intervene in conflicts within the group (e.g. free-riding by a team member, etc), 2) Only one grade will be given for the term paper prepared by the group, and 3) Each group should choose one person who is responsible for communicating with me (I will assume that this person will communicate to other members; I will not entertain multiple emails on the same topic from members of the group).
  8. It is vital that you take full advantage of the resources provided by the UW Libraries in the preparation of your assignments. Of critical importance are the following: 1) term papers need to be based on sound research, please make sure that you meet with a librarian if you need help researching articles, parsing through academic databases, etc, 2) term papers need to be prepared in an ethical manner that respects copyrights, trademarks, etc, 3) material used in term papers must be credited and cited appropriately, failure to do this will result in a grade of “0”, and 4) if you need help with your term paper, please meet with me early in the course.
  9. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Being ignorant of established ethical guidelines, citation responsibilities, or any other related issue, are not acceptable excuses.
One Comment
  1. Anna permalink

    I find it interesting that there is 15% of the overall mark awarded to “Reaction Statements and Reflective Responses”. One would think that a financial degree was all about numbers and portfolio analysis equations and interpretations. I think that it is great that there is a portion of the course that allows you to think about what you have learnt, and make sure that you actually understand what you are studying, and not simply just rehashing what has been taught.

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