Skip to content The Open University

Student and tutor module reviews

Financial accounting

see module description

  • Points: 30
  • Code: B291
  • Level: 2
On this page

Student reviews

This is a tough module, I have really enjoyed it, but have struggled to get to grips with it. The hardest part for me was the complete lack of tutoring in the final 2 modules of the course. This is 50% of your exams questions and absolutely no mention is given to it by the tutor. This is a massive chunk of work and I feel that this should be better covered and included in the course work prior to the exam.

Martin Bradford Budds

Course starting: April 2016

Review posted: March 2017

Great all round introduction to Financial Accounting. Very good materials and tutor support. Tough for a 30-credit module.

Joanne Frances Williams

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: May 2015

The module is ok and understandable. It is not difficult but there is a lot to memorise. Start reading the last two books at the beginning of the module as it is half of the exam and it is more like a memory test than logic.

My only criticism is that there should be more complex exercises which are aimed at consolidating bits and pieces of the practical part rather than just exercises, which are aimed at a targeted part of the book.

Course starting: May 2013

Review posted: September 2014

This module was really enjoyable however I found the exam horrendous as it is an exercise in not only how much information you can retain but also in the layout of all the different financial reports. Although I passed the exam I feel that the exam booklet should have the formats for each type of financial report as an aid as in reality you would never need to remember the format from memory.

Course starting: November 2012

Review posted: June 2014

Faculty response

Thank you for your comments.
The different formats of the financial statements for companies and other types of business entity form an essential part of what students need to know to pass the B291 examination. Marks are given for the layout of each financial statement as well as for the workings that show how you arrive at the amounts in the financial statements.

We do hope this helps.
With kind regards
The B291 Curriculum Team

With a background of simple book-keeping using Excel and Sage, but with no experience of double entry, I found this course challenging. There are many new concepts to take on board very quickly, from understanding double entry right through to production of sole trader/company financial statements.

I found the continuous assessment element passable with style - as you can sacrifice as much time as you're willing to work on the questions until you're happy with the results. However, you need to think and work quickly in the exam and there is much to remember.

My advice would be to use the learning outcomes at the end of each chapter of your study books to help with revision, particularly for elements such as auditing, ethics and governance etc - the more wordy elements towards the end of the course. Also, purchase a few past exam papers from OU - this will give you a taste of the type of questions you'll face in the exam and give you chance to time yourself.

I was particularly nervous taking the exam - it's been a long time since my last one! But just keep going, even if isn't going according to plan. You CAN pass it, I did.

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: May 2014

B291 covered a wide range of material of interest to people in general and those wishing to enter the accountancy profession. This included contract law and other legal aspects. After a general introduction of basic accounting principles, the material developed more difficult concepts such as preparing cash flow statements, partnership and company accounts.

The exam was quite difficult in that it required applications of some specialised topics like corporate governance and loan capital. But I wouldn't be put off by this as these like all the topics provide interest throughout the course. So, if you are keen to develop ideas about the business side of accounting the more difficult topics will eventually become clearer with re-reading.

I thought the books were very well written and allowed me to develop skills, knowledge and understanding of recording and analysing accounting data, such as depreciation methods, stock valuation and ratio analysis.

A spin-off with B291 is that I found it useful to adopt the techniques and methods into personal daily finance like double entry accounts. I am able to use concepts like average daily expenditure and revenue into controlling personal financial transactions with confidence having taken B291.

I would like to congratulate the team on preparing and running this highly respectable course at level two university level.

John Graham Owen

Course starting: November 2012

Review posted: September 2013

This was a demanding course and lived up to the tough reputation of The Professional Certificate in Accountancy. Having studied B291 certainly helped.

This Level 2 course covered alot of ground, and the TMAs were fairly demanding. One word of caution, and this caught a number of students out - the final score of this module is the highest score from the Continuous Assessment and Exam component. I did not fully appreciate this and put a lot of time and energy into the TMAs hoping to build a good base for the exam.

However, I found the TMAs were not so good as revision exercises. They were very tricky in parts, and this could take up a lot of time, where one could have benefited from a more bite-sized TMA experience. I got good scores on my TMAs but found myself ill prepared for the exam, and so the TMAs did not really help me prepare for the exam, in this sense.

So how you approach your assessment and exam preparation is critical with this demanding course.

The last 2 units are more academic, focusing on business law, corporate governance regulatory issues, and this was a bit of much just prior to exam preparation and took one's attention of technical revision. For some students, however this was a nice change of pace and emphasis from the technical aspects earlier on.

Very relevant, empowering course - but also very, very challenging. I had to travel a long distance to tutorials because of my location, so I did not get the full benefit of these in hindsight.

Course starting: May 2012

Review posted: January 2013

This was a very good introduction to Accountancy - a new departure for me with an Arts/Humanities background. As my first OU course - a great first Step with the OU.

The course material was straightforward and the end of unit exercises provided a good revision experience One minor flaw was that in some sections worked examples appeared to be glossed over, where a more detailed working for the benefit of total new-comers would have been better. This is more to do with how the course material was written by different authors depending on the section, and consistency of style than a major issue.

The exercises worked well as learning tools whereas I could not say the same for the TMAs in further Accounting courses which can be quite tricky and call for a particular exercise of judgment.

However, Accounting is just as much about prudent decision making and demonstrating objective judgment, so I understand how the TMAs later on are designed this way.

B291 provided a very good introduction and basis for the other accounting courses which comprise The Professional Certificate in Accountancy. I would highly recommend it to anyone considering taking Financial Accounting, or Management Accounting. These are very tough Level 2 courses in their own right and so B291 is an important lead into these.

The relevance of this course was immediate, and empowering and I gained new understanding and was better able to recognise and express features of my own environment in my daily life. It made me reflect on my working life and I could identify examples of issues being discussed.

The Sage software did not work on my mac, however it was an extra optional feature to the course. It was also valuable technical experience for further OU study, uploading the final assignment.

Course starting: May 2012

Review posted: January 2013

If you come to accounting from a science background like me, it is a change, as accounting seems to be a mixture of what is logical (like physical science) and what is arbitrary. The calculation side is fine, except for having to track down the various nuances of preparing various types of account through the various worked examples, when the point in question is one of theose arbitrary aspects.

My main gripe with this course is that there is a lot of more wordy material, on business regulation, law and accounting standards. I have no doubt it is very necessary knowledge for accountancy but it is presented in a very dry way (the cartoons in the course book are light relief but very short lived in effect). This makes revising for the exam on these topics a dreary bore.

I think the course could be improved greatly by adding many more detailed case studies of when these various aspects have actually mattered. I also think the questions asked in the TMAs and the exam on these topics can be vague and ambiguous - some consideration given by the question setters to possible variant interpretation of their language (by someone without the answer already in front of them to prompt the presumed interpretation) before use would help a great deal.

Course starting: May 2012

Review posted: December 2012

Despite eagerly anticipating commencing my studies with this module, by the time of the exam, I was thoroughly unimpressed by the standard of the materials.

The course materials were very poorly edited. The errata list for each unit was longer that I was accustomed to with an OU module, and in particular, it was extremely concerning that the course team could not produce the correct answers to their own self-assessment questions within the materials.

Many of the concepts throughout the materials could have been presented much clearly and succinctly, but much of the content was opaque and presented poorly. Thankfully, tutor support was excellent throughout this course: key points were explained much more clearly and thoughtfully.

Whilst there are plenty of practical opportunities within the course to put into practice what you have learned, the inadequate content wholly undermines the efforts of the student throughout the module when SAQ answers are frustratingly unhelpful. There is a very fine distinction between explaining a concept adequately and expecting the student to see relevant patterns and think critically for themselves. Unfortunately, the course team has not managed to strike the balance in this module, and I was overwhelmingly disappointed. As a law graduate I am well accustomed to long spells spent reading and analysing information, but this course simply is unhelpful and uninspiring.

None of these comments should come as any surprise to the faculty. Similar comments have been made by previous students, the satisfaction survey shows that just over half of students would recommend it, and yet the course is still offered for presentation with seemingly no adjustments.

Course starting: May 2012

Review posted: December 2012

I had sucessfully done the B190 Introduction to Bookkeeping and it had re-ignited my love of accounts. I have my Higher Accounts and an HNC in Accounts although many years ago now, so I decided that after a long period of ill health away from work I wanted to bring my qualifications up-to-date and this course seemed ideal.

I am so glad I already had a good knowledge of the basics, because the course materials were very long and tedious to read and not well presented at all. Pages and pages of confusion where a simple explanation would have done. Books 1,6 & 7 were challenging and give yourself plenty time to read and reread and look at lectures on youtube for more simple explaining. Terminology is different from what is commonly used in UK practices also, very confusing to begin with.

I however love accounts with a passion and am glad I did it, but would definitely say its a demanding course for 30 credits!

Course starting: November 2011

Review posted: October 2012

I am a huge fan of the OU, having completed nearly 600 points with the OU over 12 years and having tutored 4 modules, so it is with regret that I have to say that this is the poorest module I have completed to date.

The module material was very patchy in quality. Some of the units read as though they had not been edited: lots of duplication and poorly structured. And some of the individual sections are just badly written. The section on cash flow is particularly poor, managing as it does to turn a very straightforward concept into a baffling, over complicated, muddle. In addition, the CMAs contained numerous errors: resulting in several questions not being marked in one CMA alone.

On a more positive note, the module does provide a comprehensive introduction to financial accounting.

Peter Gordon Bayliss

Course starting: November 2011

Review posted: July 2012

I really enjoyed this course, though I had to put more time in than I would expect for 30 points. I dropped two grades in the exam - I couldn't go fast enough to answer all the questions - I was disappointed about that but it probably highlights the need to practice a lot of technical questions before the exam.

I would advise doing B190 first, not sure how I would have coped with the bookkeeping section if hadn't done it!

It's a good course but don't be fooled into thinking it's easier because it's only 30 credits, it is quite challenging and there is a lot to remember for the exam so efficient note taking and practice are essential.

Course starting: November 2010

Review posted: June 2012

This course had its ups and downs. I absolutely loved the practical side of it, there's nothing as satisfying than getting your balance sheet to balance! However, the theory side was very tedious and long-winded. My advice to anyone who is about to undertake this course would be to ensure that they read, re-read and read again all the theory books as almost half of the exam was made up of theory questions, which a lot of us found very daunting!

Course starting: November 2010

Review posted: April 2012

As a qualified self employed book-keeper I expected to sail through the course and the exam. However, I found some of the text books dry so didn't read some books, and therefore failed the exam!

The course content is pretty heavy with lots to take in. I would advise reading everything and doing all the examples - even the very dry books 1, 6 and 7!

I have signed up for the resit and intend to pass it this time! Lots of study is ahead of me.

Helen Wheeler

Course starting: May 2011

Review posted: January 2012

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

Enter a module code to find a review

To send us reviews on modules you have studied with us, please click the sign in button below.

Contact the Curriculum Information Team (Marketing Communications) to comment on this site or to post a response to reviews.