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Finance for non-financial managers

This course is designed to help managers understand how the decisions they make will affect the financial performance of their organisation. The materials and activities are designed to help you demystify the jargon of finance and to understand and use a range of different financial techniques to improve your abilities as a manager. You will look at the different financial reporting statements and financial measures to improve performance. You will learn about different mechanisms of costing and financial methods such as budgeting to assist in planning and controlling performance. Throughout this course you will be asked to relate your studies to your own work context.

Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code
This is a non-credit bearing course.
Study method
Distance Learning
Short course cost
See Registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

What you will study

The module consists of four units:
Unit 1 Financial reporting considers the importance of financial reporting for managerial use and the role of accounting in how an organisation’s transactions are recorded and reported. You will learn about the importance of cash and how it differs from profit. You review accounting terms and terminology and the two main financial reporting statements: the income statement (often called the ‘profit and loss account’) and the balance sheet.
Unit 2 Measuring financial performance explains the use of financial ratios to measure financial performance. Most owners of businesses or managers in organisations want to assess their performance in a structured way and financial reports are an important mechanism to achieve this. Without financial reports, managers cannot make decisions about how to develop or change the activities that they manage in their organisation. You will learn about and practise using some of the key financial ratios that help managers assess performance and identify some useful ratios for your own organisation.
Unit 3 Cost management explores a range of techniques and approaches that help managers assess the impact on costs of changing scenarios, as well as assess the implications of allocating overhead costs. Managerial planning and decision-making require knowledge of what might change when decisions are taken. Unit 3 has as its main focus organisational costs and cost management, in particular how costs might change as decisions are taken.
Unit 4 Cash management and budgeting shows you how to use cash reporting in decision making. Cash is an essential organisational resource and managers need to know how and why cash has been used. Cash forecasts are useful for planning and decision making for the future. This unit will introduce you to budgets – what they are, what they record, what they are used for and how they can help you exercise financial control in your area of managerial responsibility. 

You will learn

After completing this course you should be able to:
  • Understand the importance of cash as an organisational resource and explain the difference between cash and ‘profits’.
  • Understand the purpose of financial reporting statements.
  • Use financial measures to evaluate performance.
  • Understand different types of cost and associated cost behaviours and apply costing techniques in managerial decision-making. 
  • Understand the budgeting process, the behavioural implications of budgeting and how budgeting can help managers to achieve their objectives. 
  • Use financial techniques, such as budgeting, in planning, controlling and assessing performance.

Professional recognition

Successful completion of this course enables us to recognise your achievement of the course learning by issuing an OU certificate that you can use to document your commitment to continuing professional development in your personal portfolio, or to provide evidence to employers or professional body.

Learner support

Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser. Other support is available via the course forum, StudentHome website and computing helpdesk.

If you have a disability

The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

Work-based activity

The work-based activity for this course has been designed as an integrated ongoing activity that you submit at the end of your study. It will allow you to reflect on your learning and how to use it in your professional work.

Outside the UK

This course has been written primarily for a UK context, but will have relevance to other contexts.

Course length

This course will require around 25 hours to complete.


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

    Entry requirements

    Although there are no formal academic requirements to study any of our CPD courses, you are expected to have some experience in the field and the course assumes a familiarity with the subject.

    You can register and begin at any time during the life of the course. You can study at your own pace and submit your work-based activity at any date before the final submission date for the course.

    Please note that depending on when you register, you will have at least 6 months to submit your work based activity. Information about your final submission date is available when you register for the course. If you feel 6 months may not be sufficient time for your study and submission, please contact us to discuss your study options, including current final submission date before you register.

    Course length

    This course will require around 25 hours to complete.


    Start End England fee Register
    At anytime Flexible - see Entry requirements for more detail £305.00 Register

    Ways to pay

    Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

    Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

    The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2021/22 academic year. Fees for short courses starting in the 2022/23 academic year or later may increase in line with the University’s strategic approach to fees.

    What's included

    All learning materials, exercises, and study support are delivered entirely online.

    Computing requirements

    You'll need a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of 64-bit Windows 10 (note that Windows 7 is no longer supported) or macOS and broadband internet access.

    To join in spoken conversations in tutorials we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

    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.