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Managing a budget

This course acts as a toolkit to help you with using financial ideas in your workplace’s managerial decision-making. Throughout the course you'll hear from a variety of managers, from different backgrounds, talking about how they use these financial ideas. You'll get the chance to practise these ideas using activities, spreadsheets and quizzes. You'll also become more confident about dealing with finance professionals. 

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

Short course cost

Entry requirements

What you will study

The course comprises the following eight units: 

Unit 1: Your role as a budget holder 
This unit will enable you to: 

  • describe the three main functions of accounting
  • know where to find the rules used in your organisation to govern financial management
  • ​explain the role of management accounting in supporting the managers of a business to make financial decisions. 

Unit 2: Budgeting
This unit will enable you to:

  • define what a budget is
  • know the difference between top-down and bottom-up budgeting
  • explain the advantages and disadvantages of alternative approaches to budgeting
  • explain and use flexible budgeting
  • understand some behavioural aspects of budgeting
  • apply these ideas on budgeting to your own area of responsibility.

Unit 3: Classification of costs
This unit will enable you to:

  • explain the difference between expenses and costs
  • classify cost items according to their behaviour
  • recognise the importance of understanding the cost structure of your organisation or business unit
  • make decisions based on relevant costs
  • identify the opportunity costs of the choices you make.

Unit 4: Costing of products and services
This unit will enable you:

  • use absorption costing to calculate the cost of a product
  • describe several methods for allocating indirect costs to cost objects.

Unit 5: Controlling income and expenditure
This unit will enable you to: 

  • describe the importance of controlling costs in any organisation
  • recognise how budgetary control fits into an organisation’s system of control
  • explain what are favourable and adverse variances
  • describe how flexible budgeting enables a different analysis of variances from the plan. 

Unit 6: Why cash is important
This unit will enable you to: 

  • define cash flow and explain why it is important to manage it
  • recognise the structure of a basic cash flow forecast
  • use a cash flow forecast in planning and decision-making
  • apply these ideas to your own area of responsibility. 

Unit 7: Investment appraisal
This unit will enable you to: 

  • identify three different techniques for evaluating the financial aspects of projects or investments
  • explain the time preference of money
  • identify the theory behind choosing the discount rate to use in a project or investment evaluation. 

Unit 8: Pricing
This unit will enable you to:

  • adopt different strategies for price-setting
  • calculate the break-even point for a product.

You will learn

On completion of this course you will learn to: 

  • explain the strengths and weakness of the budgeting process
  • apply some rules of thumb to controlling a budget
  • explain different types of cost and calculate the break-even point for a product
  • understand the importance of cash flow and create simple cash flow forecasts
  • ask better questions of the management accountants who support you in your role
  • apply alternative techniques for evaluating the financial aspects of projects and investments. 

Learner support

Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you directly. Other support is available via the course forum, dedicated website and computing helpdesk.

Practice-based assignment

There is a practice-based assignment (PBA) which you complete at the end of the course to demonstrate how you have applied, or are intending to apply, the theories and models you have learnt. Once completed and successfully passed you will receive a digital badge and a course completion certificate which you can download as a record of your learning.


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

There are no formal academic requirements. If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact us.

Course length

The course will require around 20 hours to complete.

You can begin at any time during the life of the course and study at your own pace.


Start End England fee Register
At anytime before registration end date Jul 2025 - see Entry requirements for more detail £250.00

Registration closes 31/07/2024


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 2024/25 academic year. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

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

  • a unit-by-unit study planner
  • course-specific learning materials and exercises
  • study support
  • practice-based assignment

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.

Functionality may be limited on mobile devices. For example, voice recorder activities, which are common in language short courses, may not work on iOS/Apple devices.

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.

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.

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying BGXC002 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.