Taught course

Understanding financial statements (online short course)

Open University · Faculty of Business and Law

Entry requirements

There are no formal academic requirements.

The course will require around 10 hours to complete. You can begin at any time during the life of the course and study at your own pace.

Months of entry


Course content

The aim of this course is to help you understand and interpret three types of financial statements. The first statement summarises the financial aspects of an organisation’s operations over a particular period. The second is a snapshot of what the organisation owned and what they owed on the final day of the defined period. The third type of statement explains how the organisation generated cash and what they did with it. The exact details of how financial statements are prepared (and audited by independent persons) vary between the different classes of organisation but at their root they all prepare three statements.

You will learn to:

  • describe general purpose financial reports
  • explain the terms assets, liabilities, revenue, expenses and equity
  • know the difference between a profit and a cash surplus
  • use a balance sheet to estimate the net worth of an organisation
  • explain how the three financial statements fit together and provide management information.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • CPD
    0.1 months
    • Online learningis available for this qualification


AssessmentWhat kind of work will I be doing? (proportionally)
End-of-course quiz100

Course contact details

The Open University