Understanding Financial Statements: An introduction

Clearly understand the content in commonly issued financial statements. Register now and start anytime.

14 hours

About this short course

Financial statements are critical documents for small business owners, company directors, board members, investors and the public to enable them to understand an organisation’s financial performance and financial position.

Measures derived from the practice of financial accounting permeate throughout society. It is common to read about the ‘profits’ of various organisations in the news media, as well as about the total liabilities, total assets, total equity, expenses and income of an organisation. The skills and knowledge delivered by the Understanding Financial Statements short course will help you understand what these terms, and the numbers behind them, represent.

Designed by one of Australia’s leading financial accounting authors, this self-paced online course is written in plain English and is intended to give participants foundational knowledge about what is included in, and excluded from, financial statements, enabling them to place the numbers in context.

Who should do this course?

There are no pre-requisites or assumed prior knowledge about the practice of financial accounting to undertake this course.

The core learnings of this course will be valuable for those employees, emerging professional leaders, or executives seeking to improve their understanding of commonly issued financial statements, and how that knowledge can be applied to provide insights into various aspects of an organisation’s financial performance and financial position.

This could include people who are:

  • Small business owners
  • Corporate professionals who are exposed to financial reports but do not have an accounting background
  • Shareholders and investors
  • Students about to start studying accounting who would like a head start
  • Anyone who has an interest in corporate news and would like to broaden their understanding of what financial commentators are actually talking about.

Course Structure

This course is fully online and can be studied at your own pace. The learning consists of reading resources, short videos, and interactive online learning exercises to help guide your knowledge creation.

Self-tests will be provided throughout the course to gauge your level of understanding, and upon successful completion of the course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion.

As a general guide, we recommend allocating 14 hours to complete this course. You will have six months to complete the course once you begin.

What you will learn

  • The nature and purpose of the balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flows
  • The importance of understanding the intended audience of the financial statements
  • Key concepts employed in formulating financial statements
  • Commonly used recognition and measurement principles used within financial accounting
  • Some common, and important, misconceptions about what the information within financial statements actually reflects
  • The potential for 'creative accounting', and why it occurs
  • Basic tools for evaluating financial statements

Understand how money is being spent within your organisation

Speak with confidence about your financial statements

Learn from experienced financial professionals

Meet your instructor

Craig Deegan

Craig is a Professor of Accounting within the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics at the University of Tasmania. He is highly respected in his field of interest in social and environmental accountability and accounting, financial accounting, and financial accounting theory both nationally and internationally.

Craig has authored three leading textbooks, namely Financial Accounting (McGraw Hill, 9th edition, 2019), Financial Accounting Theory (Cengage, 5th edition, 2022), and An Introduction to Accounting: Accountability in Organisations and Society (Cengage, 1st edition, 2019).

Craig’s expertise is frequently sought by corporations, government and industry bodies on issues pertaining to financial accounting, corporate social and environmental accountability, and ethics.

View Craig's Staff Profile