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The Open University

Fundamentals of accounting

The Open University via OpenLearn


This free course, Fundamentals of accounting, will introduce you to the essential concepts and skills of bookkeeping and accounting in four weeks. To start with you will learn about the fundamental difference between bookkeeping and accounting. In Week 1 you will also learn how the purpose of management accounting differs from that of financial accounting. In Week 2 you will gain some practical skills in numeracy, including learning about rearranging simple equations such as the accounting equation. In Week 3 you will gain knowledge and understanding of the fundamental concepts that underpin double-entry accounting. You will also learn the rules of double-entry bookkeeping and how to record transactions in ledger accounts. In the fourth and final week you will learn how to prepare a trial balance and the balance sheet (also known as the statement of financial position). In the final week you will also be introduced to the income statement (also known as the profit and loss statement) and how it fits with the accounting equation and the balance sheet.When you complete the course you'll receive a free statement of participation to help you to share your achievement.


  • Week1Week 1: The purpose and role of bookkeeping and accounting
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 Bookkeeping and accounting
  • 1.2 The four fundamental financial questions
  • 1.3 Income and expenses in accounting
  • 1.4 Capital in accounting
  • 1.5 Financial and management accounting
  • 1.5.1 The key differences between financial and management accounting
  • Summary of Week 1
  • Acknowledgements
  • Week2Week 2: Essential numerical skills for accounting
  • Introduction
  • 2.1 Mastering accounting numeracy
  • 2.2 Use of BODMAS and brackets
  • 2.3 Use of calculator memory
  • 2.4 Rounding
  • 2.5 Fractions
  • 2.6 Ratios
  • 2.7 Percentages
  • 2.8 Negative numbers and the use of brackets
  • 2.9 The test of reasonableness
  • 2.10 Table of equivalencies
  • 2.11 Manipulation of equations
  • 2.11.1 Manipulation of formulae
  • Summary of Week 2
  • Acknowledgements
  • Week3Week 3: Double-entry accounting
  • Introduction
  • 3.1 The essential concepts behind double-entry accounting
  • 3.1.1 The business entity concept
  • 3.1.2 The accounting equation
  • 3.1.3 The duality principle in practice
  • 3.2 The system of double-entry accounting
  • 3.2.1 Following the double-entry rules
  • 3.2.2 Recording transactions using T-accounts
  • Summary of Week 3
  • Acknowledgements
  • Week4Week 4: Preparing the trial balance and the balance sheet
  • Introduction
  • 4.1 From T-accounts to the trial balance
  • 4.2 The T-accounts before their balance is worked out
  • 4.2.1 The procedure for balancing off T-accounts
  • 4.3 The trial balance
  • 4.4 The balance sheet
  • 4.4.1 Preparing a balance sheet
  • 4.5 The effect of profit on the accounting equation
  • Summary of Week 4
  • End-of-course conclusion
  • Acknowledgements


4.8 rating, based on 4 Class Central reviews

4.1 rating at OpenLearn based on 64 ratings

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  • it was nice to take this course and be able to work in my own time frame. I don't have to rush through it which made it a lot easier.
  • Ashley West
    the coarse isnt to bad and youlearn some things, but the certificate is not a certifcate, i a statement of participation..
  • Profile image for Animesh Chaturvedi
    Animesh Chaturvedi
    The accounting course exceeded my expectations in every way. The comprehensive curriculum brilliantly covers fundamental concepts to advanced techniques, making it suitable for all levels. The instructors' expertise is evident through their engaging…
    Absolutely enjoyed the course! The instructor's clarity and enthusiasm made complex topics accessible and engaging. Each lesson was well-structured, providing a perfect balance between theory and practical exercises. The course materials were comprehensive and up-to-date, enhancing my learning experience. What stood out to me was the active online community; it was incredibly supportive, fostering a collaborative learning environment. Additionally, the flexibility to learn at my own pace without sacrificing quality was a huge plus. This course not only met but exceeded my expectations, leaving me more confident and skilled in the subject matter. Highly recommend!

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