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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Understanding Financial Statements: Company Position

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via Coursera


This course is designed to provide a basic understanding of financial statements with an emphasis on the balance sheet. However, to understand accounting driven financial statements, it is important to recognize that accounting is less about counting and more about measuring. “What is it that is being measured?” Well, as the course unfolds, you will learn about the three measurement questions and how the balance sheet helps to answer the first two of these questions. By touring a real company and interviewing real business people, the course describes the basic content of financial statements in a simple yet relevant context. The goal of the course is to leave a lasting impression about what balance sheet consists of and what it reveals. The next course in the Fundamentals of Accounting Specialization completes the conversation by addressing the remaining measurement question.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
• Describe the purpose of a balance sheet.
• Define the three components of a balance sheet.
• Recognize and understand the meaning of several items typically presented on a balance sheet.
• Explain the broader purpose of financial statements and the role of accounting in producing the financial statements.
• Read and, to some extent, interpret real-world balance sheets.

If you enjoy this business course and are interested in an MBA, consider applying to the iMBA, a flexible, fully-accredited online MBA at an incredibly competitive price offered by the University of Illinois. For more information, please see the Resource page in this course and


  • Course Orientation
    • You will become familiar with the course, your classmates, and our learning environment. The orientation will also help you obtain the technical skills required for the course.
  • Module 1: What Is Accounting and Why Are Financial Reports Important?
    • This module will introduce you to the basics of financial statements by emphasizing the links between accounting, measurement, and financial statements.
  • Module 2: Assets – What Do You Own?
    • This module will explain the basics of the balance sheet, provide a working definition of assets, and give you an overview of assets typically presented on the balance sheet.
  • Module 3: Liabilities – What Do You Owe?
    • This module will introduce you to the concept of liabilities and explain what they are and how they can arise.
  • Module 4: Equity and How the Balance Sheet Fits Together
    • This module will build an intuition for what equity represents. It will also explain how the components of the balance sheet relate to one another.

Taught by

Kevin E. Jackson


4.8 rating at Coursera based on 1278 ratings

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