England.  Change location

Intermediate management accounting

Qualification dates
Start End

This module aims to give you a thorough understanding of how management accounting principles are vital for making decisions in a business context. Building on Fundamentals of accounting (B124) and Business data analytics and decision making (B126), you'll explore management accounting in depth. This includes expanding upon key management accounting topics such as costing, budgetary planning and control, variance analysis and performance measurement, as well as contemporary topics such as environmental management accounting. The module emphasises the important role of management accountants as key members of the management team and in shaping business decisions.

What you will study

This module provides a firm grounding in key management accounting concepts and techniques.

Unit 1: The role and nature of management accounting 
The module begins by providing an overview of the nature and role of management accounting and its core functions. It explores the historical context of management accounting and how it has evolved over time. It emphasises the importance of management accountants as key players in all aspects of a contemporary organisation, and how they provide vital information and analysis to managers to aid in planning, evaluating, and controlling activities to achieve the organisation's objectives. The changing context in which management accountants operate and the significance of considering environmental factors in organisational decision making will be highlighted. Additionally, you'll gain insights into the practical application of management accounting by listening to a recorded interview with a practicing management accountant. This will provide a comprehensive understanding into the role, context and significance of management accounting, as well as the responsibilities of  management accountants. This foundational understanding will be built upon as specific management accounting techniques are examined in greater detail. 
Unit 2: Cost accounting for planning and decision making 
The focus of this unit is on cost accounting and its importance in planning and decision making. It begins by addressing the importance of accounting for inventory, labour, and overheads, both from financial and management accounting perspectives. It also explores absorption and marginal costing and the effects of these two costing techniques on inventory valuation and reporting profit. In addition, it highlights the various costing and accounting methods such as job, batch, contract, and process costing, activity-based costing and the alternative costing techniques such as target costing and lifecycle costing for calculating the cost of several types of products, processes, and services. There will be various practice-based activities to practice what you have learnt in this unit.
Unit 3: Budgeting and control 
This unit is concerned with the nature and purpose of a budget. It outlines the various types of budgets, how they all fit together, and how they may be used for planning, control and decision making within an organisation. It also explores the budgeting approaches and procedures that are commonly used, and the issues associated with the design and operation of budgetary processes, as well as behavioural aspects of budgeting.
Unit 4: Standard costing and variance analysis 
In this unit you'll look at different types of costing approach and consider how variance analysis is carried out in an organisation. It explains the significance of variance analysis for budgetary control, looks at how variances are investigated, and considers how budgetary reconciliation can identify and resolve potential problems. It also highlights the causes and steps of budget revision to cut off excess spending and reallocate revenues. Finally, the unit explains the application of standard costing in service industries, as well as discussing the limitations of standard costing. 
Unit 5: Performance management 
The final unit explores performance management through an examination of approaches to performance measurement. It looks at performance management systems and how different activities and techniques can be used to improve performance. The unit considers benchmarking, the balanced scorecard framework, and Fitzgerald and Moon’s Building Block Model. Furthermore, it highlights the concepts of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. It describes, calculates and interprets financial performance indicators (FPIs) for profitability, liquidity and risk in both manufacturing and service organisations. It also focuses on how performance could be measured in not-for-profit organisations and the public sector. Finally, the unit describes environmental, social and governance (ESG) and sustainability reporting and how this enables companies to be more transparent about the risk and opportunities they face. 

Professional recognition

This module forms part of the BSc (Hons) Accounting and Finance (R52) which has been granted exemptions by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) towards its Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) qualification.

Entry requirements

You must have successfully completed Fundamentals of accounting (B124) and Business data analytics and decision making (B126) before you can register for B253.

Preparatory work

If you would like to prepare for this module, you may find that Fundamentals of accounting, a free course on OpenLearn, is a helpful introductory resource.

What's included

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module materials, including case studies and exercises to practise your analytical skills
  • audio and video content such as animations and screencasts
  • assessment guide
  • online tutorial access.

Where possible, the materials are also available in other formats – which may include PDF, EPUB and Microsoft Word – to enable you to study on the move.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software, including any required to complete the online invigilated exam, will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone). You’ll need a webcam and microphone for the online invigilated exam.

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve
  • guiding you to additional learning resources
  • providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content
  • facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.


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

This module includes a remote exam you will take at home or another suitable location. The exam will be invigilated online by another person – find out more about online invigilation.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying B253 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Intermediate management accounting starts once a year – in April. This page describes the module that will start in April 2025. We expect it to start for the last time in April 2032.

Course work includes:

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)