The Oxford Brookes University Research and Analysis Project (RAP) is the final component of the Oxford Brookes University BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting degree. To reach this stage of the BSc degree you have already successfully completed at least nine demanding ACCA professional exams.
You have already demonstrated your undergraduate level abilities by passing the ACCA exams; the RAP provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate the remaining graduate level attributes necessary for the award of the BSc degree. Please read the RAP learning outcomes and assessment criteria carefully before you start your RAP work. This will help you understand what is expected of an ACCA student who wishes to submit a RAP to Oxford Brookes University.
You should understand that your research work and preparation of the RAP is covered by the Oxford Brookes University academic regulations. This includes the University‟s regulations on cheating which can be found on the ACCA and OBU websites. If an ACCA student or member is found guilty of breaching these regulations this could lead to permanent expulsion from Oxford Brookes University and disciplinary action by ACCA.
In particular, your submitted RAP must be your own work and your research must have been undertaken specifically for the RAP. You cannot take a workplace research or consultancy report and adapt it for your RAP. Neither can you submit a piece of research work that has previously been submitted to another educational institution for a different academic award.
The RAP is very different to an ACCA written exam. You have many choices to make in order to produce a good quality RAP. You have to choose which organisation to study, what you want to find out, which information sources you will use and how to present your research findings. Each RAP is different and there is no „model‟ answer to your project objectives. Your research findings may depend on how you collect and analyse information, and your findings may not be wholly definitive. Your conclusions may be unexpected or not what you might have anticipated before starting the RAP work. This is the nature of applied research.
In order to produce a successful RAP you have to evaluate and / or analyse information from a range of sources. This means creating some meaning of what you have found, or making a judgment or coming to a conclusion. If you only report the information that you have found or generated, you will not pass the RAP. The ability to evaluate and / or analyse information is a very important graduate attribute and the grade that you are awarded for your RAP will be significantly influenced by„how well‟ you demonstrate your evaluative and/or analytical skills in your RAP.
You may be one of the many ACCA students whose overall class of BSc degree will not be directly affected by the grade awarded to your RAP (provided you pass). However, a good performance in the RAP will demonstrate to your family, friends, colleagues, tutors and employers that you are capable of undertaking good quality research. If your ACCA average mark puts you in a position where achieving a high grade in the RAP will gain you a higher class of degree, then you must aim for your first project submission to be the highest quality research work of which you are capable. You cannot resubmit a passed RAP and the RAP grade will be capped for a resubmitted Research Report that originally failed.
Your RAP will focus on accounting and / or business issues within an organisation. It is very important to remember that the reported financial performance of an organisation – whether in the private or public sector – is the outcome of the organisation‟s business activities. A private sector company usually competes against other companies to sell its goods and services and its success in doing so is reflected in the company‟s financial statements and financial performance indicators. Therefore in order to explain why a company‟s financial performance has changed, you must look into the company‟s business environment and identify those actions taken by the company, its competitors, government etc. which have led to changes in the company‟s business performance. To understand change, you may need to look outside of the organisation chosen for your RAP.
The remaining sections of the RAP Preparation Guide provide further guidance on the preparation of your Research Report and your Skills and Learning Statement. However, there some other general issues that you should think about before starting your RAP work:
- The suggested RAP project topic areas are based on different aspects of the ACCA Qualification syllabus. The RAP is an opportunity for you to apply some of your learning from your ACCA exams. You may have to develop this learning in more depth to prepare a high quality RAP and this will enhance your knowledge and skills in accounting and business.
- You should consider your own strengths and weaknesses when considering what to do for your RAP. If you prefer financial accounting to management accounting, then would it be better to choose a RAP topic which is based on financial reporting? Or do you want to improve your knowledge and skills in your weak areas? If you want to use advanced statistical techniques, then do you really understand how to apply them and to explain the output in business terms?
- Your RAP must have a single organisation as its focus. However you do not have to work for an organisation in order to choose it for your RAP. If there are substantial external information sources for you to undertake a RAP then you may not need to contact individuals within your chosen organisation. If you are working for an organisation, then you may, if you wish, choose your own organisation as the basis for your RAP. However be sure that necessary internal information will be made available to you and can be included in your project report.
- Do not start your research work without having spent some time thinking about what you propose to do, how you propose to do it and when you propose to do it. Although Oxford Brookes University does not require you to submit an RAP outline for approval, we strongly recommend that you prepare a short outline for your RAP and a timetable within which you show when you expect to complete the different phases of the research work and how you will meet the Oxford Brookes University RAP submission deadline. Be realistic about what information may be available to you, what you can achieve and how long it may take you to complete the RAP documents.
- You must be independent and unbiased when undertaking research. You may think very favourably about a company and / or its products. However if you choose this company for your RAP you have an obligation to look at the range of differing views about the company that exists and to evaluate all of these views within your Research Report. You should not only use those information sources that support your own view of the company.
Please read all of the RAP information on this website before starting your RAP work. It is easier to make changes to your proposed project work before you have collected all of your information rather than to try to make significant changes when writing your Research Report and Skills and Learning Statement.
Finally, from time to time there are articles in the Student Accountant which will provide useful information and more guidance on submitting a successful project.