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Financial accounting

This is the module for you if you want a route into the accountancy profession or need to gain fundamental accounting skills for a management or other role. You will gain an understanding of how financial statements are prepared and develop the skills to prepare financial statements. You will explore differences in financial accounting for different businesses, building an understanding of the frameworks underpinning accounting and audit practice. We strongly recommend that you study this module before Management accounting (B292), but both modules can be studied independently.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code
Study level
2 8 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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Student Reviews

Great all round introduction to Financial Accounting. Very good materials and tutor support. Tough for a 30-credit module....
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The module is ok and understandable. It is not difficult but there is a lot to memorise. Start reading the...
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What you will study

Financial accounting will help you develop an understanding of the role and importance of accounting in the various types of business and other organisations. It covers the accounting regulatory framework in the UK and EU; accounting in the context of international financial and capital markets; and the qualitative characteristics of financial accounting information, accounting concepts and principles. This module uses the terminology of The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

You will learn how to:

  • prepare financial statements based on application of accounting concepts, regulations and principles
  • identify, classify, measure and summarise the elements of financial statements applying accounting principles and concepts
  • explain and interpret the purpose, form and content of the three main financial statements; income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement
  • use simple mathematics for the purpose of calculations in bookkeeping, accounting and preparing/analysing financial statements, including basic ratio analysis.

During the module you will:

  • practise recording transactions and events
  • maintain accounting records manually
  • gain some familiarity with computerised accounting software
  • prepare periodic financial statements for sole traders, partnerships, non-profit organisations and single-entity private and public limited companies
  • develop your skills in explaining, analysing and applying the mechanism of double-entry bookkeeping and the accounting cycle.

By the end of the module you will be able to:

  • review and illustrate the purpose, context and environmental influences and constraints on financial accounting and business practices
  • explain and evaluate the need for ethics in the behaviour of accountants and the need for independent auditing in the reporting process of public and large enterprises
  • explain and review the relations between corporate governance, auditing and financing
  • explain and review issues of business law and how they relate to financial accounting and management.

Vocational relevance

If you pass both Financial accounting (B291) and Management accounting (B292) you will be awarded the Professional Certificate in Accounting.  Please note that this Certificate will not qualify you as an accountant. To obtain that status you will need to pass the qualifying examinations of a professional accounting body. The institutions in this list have granted exemptions to students who have passed B291 and/or B292.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. There will also be four tutorials and one day school which you are strongly encouraged to attend. Where tutorials and day schools are held depends on the distribution of students taking each module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

You will not have access to a computer or spreadsheets for the examination. You will be expected to use only a calculator.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in April 2015. We expect it to be available twice a year, in April and October.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
3 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is an OU level 2 module and you need to have a good knowledge of financial accounting, obtained either through OU level 1 study or by doing equivalent work at another university. Ideal preparation for this module would be our OU level 1 module Introduction to bookkeeping and accounting (B190), but please note that the credits you gain for B190 cannot be counted towards the Professional Certificate in Accounting or the BA (Hons) Business Studies.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


Start End England fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Mar 2016 £1350.00

Registration closes 10/09/15 (places subject to availability)


You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

02 Apr 2016 Sep 2016 £1350.00

Registration closes 10/03/16 (places subject to availability)


You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

This module is expected to start for the last time in April 2018.

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time that is convenient to you.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

This information was provided on 29/07/2015.

What's included

Seven printed texts and a website with resources to support your learning. An introductory version of Sage accounting software on CD – a software programme you may encounter when you progress to professional accountancy training.

You will need

A calculator will be useful and will be required for Management accounting (B292). Spreadsheet software is useful but not essential.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available. For this module you will also need to install software provided by the OU on a disk or USB stick.

A Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system is suitable for this module. You will be required to install Microsoft Windows specific software.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Because of the significant amount of tabular material, students with severe visual impairment or those who rely on screen reading software may need to access sighted assistance in their study of this module. Please note that assistance will need to be sorted out well in advance of the module start date. Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 

This module involves calculations that most students may do using a pen and paper, but these activities may also be done using a spreadsheet or calculator. The materials will contain formats and layouts found in accounting reports such as balance and income statements which will be available electronically as tables. The module team is actively working to make the module as accessible as possible.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.