Histories of accounting education – an introduction

Elaine Evans, Catriona Paisey

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The sub-discipline of accounting education is often traced back to the advent of accounting as a modern profession during the mid-nineteenth century, with education being a key part of the accountancy professionalisation project (Willmott, 1986). Yet, before the words ‘accounting’ and ‘accountancy’ became widely used, earlier forms of accounting, sometimes called ‘reckoning’ and often associated with merchants’ accounts, were used and book-keeping education can be regarded as a forerunner to accounting education (Parker, 1994). It is not unreasonable to assume that whenever these early forms of accounting took place, those participating in accounting required instruction. Despite this, our understanding of how accounting education evolved is largely confined to the recent past and, even then, is far from comprehensive. The paucity of archival evidence from earlier periods perhaps explains the limited discussion of accounting education before the nineteenth century, but some new insights have recently been offered into the development of accounting education alongside the development of double entry bookkeeping in fifteenth-century Italy. Edwards (2011) examines accounting education in Britain in the early modern period (1550–1800) at the time of rapid commercial expansion and early industrialisation. He notes, ‘Education is not yet the subject of significant study by accounting historians’ (Edwards, 2011: 37). Significantly, his vocabulary shows that he does not confine his discussion to a narrow view of accounting education but discusses the teachers and their institutions as well as what was taught, and notes too that often those who practised accounting were self-taught. Likewise, this Special Issue adopts a wide definition of accounting education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalAccounting History
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • accounting
  • education
  • accounting history


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