Bookkeeping Foundations (Bookkeeping I)

Course CodeBBS103
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Skilled bookkeepers are ALWAYS in demand!

This comprehensive foundation course is perfect for anyone:
  • wishing to re-enter the workforce
  • wanting to find work as a bookkeeper
  • managing or owning a small business
  • needing to brush up on existing skills
  • working in administration or accounts
When you enrol in this course you can be confident that it is:
  • Regularly revised and updated (at least yearly) to maintain global relevance.
  • Internationally applicable – many countries participate in standardised bookkeeping principles and practice; this course is based on current international standards.

This course can provide you with the foundation bookkeeping knowledge and skills to assist you in:
  • Re-entering the workforce
  • owning or managing a business
  • brushing up on rusty skills
  • enhancing your work in administration or accounts departments
  • bolstering your CV

Lesson Structure

There are 13 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction – Nature, Scope and Function of Bookkeeping
    • What is bookkeeping
    • Difference between accountants and bookkeepers
    • History of bookkeeping
    • Bookkeeping Terminology
    • Understanding language
    • Why do we need bookkeeping
    • Bookkeeping as a management tool
    • Business structures
    • Business structures vary internationally
    • Financial information
    • Accounting conventions and doctrines
    • Accounting standards
    • Australian accounting standards
    • UK accounting standards
    • International cooperation on standards
  2. The Balance Sheet
    • What is a balance sheet
    • Assets and liabilities
    • Components of a balance sheet
    • What items do not appear on the balance sheet
    • Example of a Balance Sheet
    • Tracking business performance
    • T format balance sheet
    • Balance sheet allocations
    • What is working capital
  3. Analysing and Designing Accounting Systems
    • What is an accounting system
    • Understanding the flow of information in bookkeeping
    • Other business documents -statements, order forms, quotations
    • Steps in the bookkeeping process
    • Designing the System
    • Analyzing business needs
    • Designing the accounting system
    • Designing the chart of accounts
    • Writing a chart of accounts
    • Designing the type of journals needed
  4. The Double Entry Recording Process
    • Ledgers
    • Opening up the general ledger
    • Ledger accounts/ sub ledger
    • The general ledger
    • Entries resulting from transactions
    • Recording transactions
    • Different types of accounts
    • A trial balance
    • Ledger accounts and double entry bookkeeping
    • Recording entries
    • Rules to follow
    • Analysis chart
    • Footing ledger accounts
    • Balancing ledger accounts
    • The trial balance
    • Accounting for drawings
    • Revision of definitions and processes
  5. The Cash Receipts and Cash Payments Journal
    • Recording cash transactions in journals
    • Multi column receipts journal
    • Cash payments journal
    • Multi column cash payment journal
    • What discounts are allowed
    • Accounting discounts allowed and received
  6. The Credit Fees and Purchases Journal
    • Credit sales and credit purchases
    • Credit sales journal
    • Debtors subsidiary journal and control account
    • Using a debtors schedule
    • The credit purchases journal
    • Creating a creditors Subsidiary Ledger and schedule
    • The cash payments journal and creditors control account
  7. The General Journal
    • Recording non standard transactions
    • Designing the general journal
    • Posting to a general journal
    • General journal entries and ledgers
    • Anomalies
    • Recording credit purchases of non current assets
    • Recording owners contributions or withdrawals
    • Recording debts that are written off
    • Recording contra entries
    • Recording purchase returns
    • Other uses for a journal
  8. Closing the Ledger
    • Closing at the end of the accounting period
    • Preparing for the new accounting period
    • Transferring balance day closing entries
    • Profit and loss account
    • Determining gross profit
    • Simple profit and loss account
    • Balance sheet
    • Businesses making a loss rather than profit
    • Owner withdrawing revenue
    • The end results
  9. The Profit and Loss Statement
    • Introduction
    • The balance sheet and how it relates to Profit and Loss Statement
    • Using net profit figure to evaluate business performance
    • What is profitability?
    • Gross Profit
    • Net Profit
    • Cash flow margin
    • Return on assets margin
    • Gearing ratio and how it relates to cash flow
    • Return on owners equity margin
    • Informative profit and loss presentation
    • Segmentation
    • Functional classification- Grouping expenses
    • Showing extraordinary expenses and revenue
    • Accounting for unused materials or stock
    • Why do we need to calculate the cost of materials used
  10. Depreciation on Non-current Assets
    • Intangible assets
    • Depreciation methods
    • Depreciation calculation methods
    • Calculating depreciation with the straight line method
    • What if there is no residual value
    • How to enter depreciation into the books
    • Declining balance method of depreciation
    • Calculating percentage rate of depreciation
    • Production units method of depreciation
    • What about intangible assets
    • Keeping track of assets and depreciation
    • Asset register
    • End of Useful life for assets
    • Loss disposal of asset account
  11. Profit Determination and Balance Day Adjustments
    • Cash and accrual accounting
    • Cash accounting
    • Accruals accounting
    • Balance day adjustments to final accounts
    • How to record prepaid expenses
    • Showing in the general ledger
    • What about if we actually owe unpaid expenses on balance day
    • Receiving income in advance
    • Other balance day adjustments –stock, bad debts, depreciation, discounts
    • A more comprehensive treatment of trial balance
    • Partnerships
    • Companies
    • Clubs and non profit organisations
    • Using a ten column worksheet or spreadsheet
  12. Cash Control: Bank Reconciliation and Petty Cash
    • Ways of handling money
    • Outgoing monies (payments)
    • Methods of controlling cash
    • Recording cash transactions
    • The cash book
    • Bank transactions and the cash book
    • Bank reconciliation statements
    • The cash cycle –cash flow and liquidity
    • Account receivable turnover ratio
    • Operating cash flow ratio
    • Inventory turnover ratio
    • Professional journals
  13. Cash Control: Budgeting
    • Introduction
    • Budget types
    • The cash budget
    • Factoring in safety margins
    • Variable costs
    • Budget reviews
    • Taxes and budgets
    • GST or VAT taxes
    • Tax input credits
    • Taxable supplies

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Outline the uses of financial information; accounting standards and conventions and the basic functions of bookkeeping for service businesses.
  • Describe the use of balance sheets and their function.
  • Outline setting procedures for a bookkeeping system; steps in its use; the flow of information and use of other business documents.
  • Formulate procedures for the setting up of a double entry bookkeeping system
  • Outline the functions and specific uses of ‘special journals’.
  • Outline methods used to set up credit sales journal and credit purchases journals
  • Outline the setting up procedures for a general journal and its use
  • Describe methods used to close ledger accounts at the end of an accounting period.
  • Describe profit and loss statement preparation methods.
  • Outline the use of appropriate methods for the depreciation of non-current assets.
  • Outline the fundamentals of cash and accrual accounting; the ‘matching process’; the necessity for balance day adjustments.
  • Describe the cash cycle; the importance of cash control and its various methods including petty cash systems and bank reconciliation processes.
  • Outline the role of budgets and their importance to business.

What You Will Do

  • Describe the activities of service businesses.
  • What is the difference between an accounting convention and a doctrine
  • How is the accounting period convention important to making business decisions?
  • Why might the accounting entity convention be important in business?
  • What is the Doctrine of ‘Materiality’?
  • Create a list of differences and a list of similarities between the goods and services tax system you investigated and Australia’s system.
  • Define the term ‘Balance Sheet Equation’ .Describe what a balance sheet is made up of. Know where items appear on the balance sheet. Describe 3 balance sheet formats.
  • Describe the meaning and importance of separating current assets from fixed current assets and current liabilities from long-term/deferred liabilities on the balance sheet.
  • Prepare a balance sheet.
  • Show the equations used for determining a business’s working capital.
  • Explain what the difference between a ledger and a journal.
  • Describe source documents.
  • Describe a chart of accounts and its use; draw up a chart of accounts.
  • List the journals used in an accounting system.
  • Describe a Statement of Account and outline its use.
  • Define double entry accounting.
  • Describe a ledger account and the difference between balancing a ledger account and footing a ledger account.
  • Define a trial balance; prepare a trial balance.
  • Compare three-column ledger accounts with T-form ledger accounts; enter transactions into a ledger account; balance a ledger account.
  • Describe the use of a drawing account, and how drawings are classified in the balance sheet
  • Describe the functions of an analysis chart include an example using transactions to show A, L and OE.
  • Prepare a T form Balance Sheet.
  • Describe a Cash Receipts and Cash Payments journal their uses and their source documents.
  • Differentiate between a general ledger and a special journal.
  • Outline the benefits of a multi-column cash journal and a simple format cash journal.
  • Design a cash payments journal and a cash receipts journal. Describe the functions of posting references and sundry columns. Post items to a cash receipts and cash payments journal.
  • Explain the difference between a ‘discount allowed’ and a ‘discount received’
  • Describe the difference between a credit sale and a credit purchase and state the source documents. Prepare a credit fees/sales and a credit purchases journal and do a range of appropriate postings.
  • Describe the role and usefulness of a Subsidiary Ledger.
  • Outline the role and usefulness of a ‘Debtors Control’ account.
  • Show the double entry of goods bought on credit.
  • Describe a Control Account
  • Describe the aim of a general journal and its key sections. Change a general journal to accommodate subsidiary ledger. Correct errors in a general ledger account.
  • Explain the term bad debt. Use the general journal to record a bad debt. Understand ‘cents in the dollar’ offer in relation to a bad debt. Write off bad debts. Prepare a general journal. Record entries to a general journal. Know how the general journal is used in preparing closing entries. Set up a general journal. Close off a general journal.
  • Explain the term and use of ‘Contra Entries’
  • Record non-current assets in a purchases journal
  • Know the difference between closing and balancing a general ledger account.
  • Identify which ledgers are closed off at the end of the accounting period.
  • Describe a profit and loss account and how to work out a net profit or a net loss. Know which account does the net profit or loss is transferred to.
  • Describe a profit and loss statement and how it relates to the balance sheet.
  • Know why functional classification and segmentation used on profit and loss reports
  • Describe extraordinary expenses and how they are listed on the profit and loss statement and why.
  • Describe ‘Materials on Hand’ calculate materials on hand. State how they are reported on the profit and loss statement. Prepare a profit and loss statement.
  • Describe the difference between cash accounting and accrual accounting.
  • Describe Balance Day Adjustments and their importance to bookkeeping.
  • Describe pre-paid expenses and outline the difference between the asset and expense approaches to the recording of prepaid expenses.
  • Describe the importance of reversing entries and when they are done.
  • Know a range of common balance day adjustments.
  • Prepare a Trail Balance for a business that carries stock and has balance day adjustments. Create general journal for adjusting entries; Post the entries to the relevant general ledger accounts. Close off the accounts to profit and loss. Prepare a new trial balance; Prepare the profit and loss statement; Prepare the balance sheet.
  • Enter reversing entries for the new accounting period.
  • Outline the usefulness of a 10 column worksheet.
  • Make entries into a cash book and present a reconciliation statement.
  • Draw up and use a petty cash book.
  • Describe bank reconciliation statements and their use.
  • Describe methods of cash control; describe liquidity and its link to cash flow.
  • Describe accounts receivable turnover ratio; operating cash flows ratio; Inventory turnover ratio.
  • Outline the importance of budgets to a business; describe a range of budgets.
  • Describe the term ‘safety margin’.
  • Describe the term ‘cash budget’ and outline how debtors and creditors are included.
  • Describe a range of variances in a budget.
  • Describe the importance of budget reviews.

Bookkeeping Makes Business Management So Much Easier

Bookkeeping provides a framework for the collection, preparation and recording of financial data from which information can be drawn, so that informed decisions can be made, implemented and evaluated.

The bookkeeping system can be tailored to the needs of any individual, non-profit organisation, small or large business. This course will concentrate on the needs of small business.  A business is an economic entity created for the purpose of increasing the wealth of its owner or owners by generating profits from the provision of goods and/or services.  A small business is one where all major decisions are the responsibility of one, two or a few people who are usually the owners.

A business can help control its financial future through its bookkeeping system.  Information relating to financial transactions can be used to prepare budgets and set future financial goals.  Businesses need this information to help answer a number of questions, such as:

  •     Will the business have enough cash to pay its bills?
  •     How much are the assets of the business worth?
  •     Can the business afford to borrow money?
  •     Is the business financial enough to expand its operation?
  •     Should the selling price be changed?

Using Bookkeeping as a Management Tool  

When a manager has access to well-kept books they can use these as a tool for future business planning and in order to make timely and considered decisions. They can see at a glance whether the business is making a profit or a loss, how much money is owed to creditors and how much is owed to the company by debtors. The can determine by using this information whether all is going to plan and decisions can then be made around that information. For example if sales are down should prices be dropped? Can the wage bill be met? Is downsizing an option to consider?  Conversely, if sales are up decisions to expand the business may need consideration. How much would it cost to expand? How much extra money would it take to cover expansion costs? And so on.

Accounting conventions (accounting standards) and doctrines (principles) influence accounting and (therefore bookkeeping) practices. If you understand accounting conventions (i.e. the basic rules and principles) you it will give a greater and clearer understanding of why statements are prepared in a certain way.

Accounting standards were commonly accepted accounting practices many of which have now become laws which accountants must follow.

Due to international cooperation (spanning decades of work) accounting standards i.e. the rules which govern the ways in which books are kept and reports are presented, have become standardised (i.e. can be easily recognised through similarities in approach and presentation) throughout many countries.  

What are These Conventions?

There are many conventions (rules) which cover a range of situations using accepted accounting methods (conventions). The most important used by bookkeepers include the following:

The historical cost convention
As with all basic accounting this rule deals with what has happened in the past (within a business). It is possibly the most commonly used accounting convention. Transactions for assets within the business must be recorded at their original cost i.e. the amount paid at the time of purchase less depreciation (if applicable). With some exceptions, for example land which commonly (but not always) appreciates with time, the value of an asset cannot increase - i.e. Inflation or the amount an item could potentially be sold for, are not taken into account. This can have the effect of distorting the true value of a business on the balance sheet – for example a business may buy a warehouse for $150,000. 10 years later the business owner may have an offer of $300,000 for the same building. On the balance sheet however it still has to appear at its original cost. This is because values are nebulous i.e. you can’t really predict the future value of anything and it is deemed a better approach to record historical value then it would be to guess at a market value. Assets however can from time to time be re-valued to reflect their current worth and appear on the balance sheet with the new value (noted on the balance sheet).

The business entity convention
This separates the business owner (of any type of business entities) from the business, in accounting terms. So any transactions within the business, relate to the business and not to the owner (e.g. when a business owner invests money into the business, it is recorded as a liability that the business has to the owner. If the owner buys withdraws cash (or takes home goods) it is not recorded as a business expense. The owner can’t use the purchase of goods (for private use) as a business expense. This rule ensures that the personal and the business dealings of the owners are always separated.  

The going concern convention
This assumes that the business will continue its activities indefinitely and are therefore able to meet its current and future commitments. Because of this assumption, a business can classify assets and also liabilities as short, medium or long term and report them as such on the balance sheet; this prevents the write-off as costs of long term assets, within one accounting period, instead of over many years.   This convention also allows assets to appear at book value (at purchase) rather than market value.

The accounting period convention
In order to compare past to present business performance we need to produce accounting reports for a business at meaningful intervals. The length of an accounting period may be a week, a month, a quarter, or a full year, but must not be any longer due to taxation requirements. It may be set to start and end on a certain date for example the 1st of July each year and end on the 30th of June each year – known as the ‘financial year’. Note: in some countries ‘financial years’ differ.   

A business’s profit and loss account should show the expenses or the income relating to the period in which they were incurred or generated rather than when an account was paid or income was received. This system is sometimes also referred to as the accruals concept (see the definition given earlier this lesson. The net profit a business makes is therefore more realistic to a given period of time. Accruals are part of the bookkeeping process.

Monetary entity convention
This states that the monetary unit that is used is relevant to the country the business is operating in. In other words in the USA it is the US dollar and Australia the Aust. dollar in the UK the pound and so on.

Recognition of Law
Financial reporting in a business is accountable by law. Books must be kept correctly reports must be accurate and correctly reflect the financial transactions of a business.

Accounting Doctrines

Accounting is based on accounting conventions – some of which we just covered in the previous pages. Following are some generally used accounting doctrines. They differ from conventions in that they do not have to be adopted - but most companies choose to do so.

This states that the way accounting information is presented (for a business) must remain the same for all accounting periods from the present and into the future. This ensures that performance comparisons are valid and equitable and there is less likelihood that financial information is manipulated or biased towards the user.  

All business transactions within the books and financial reports of a business must be relevant to that business only.

All items that are of importance to a business (in a financial sense) must appear in a business’s financial reports. Conversely this means that small items that are of little significance to financial outcomes may be omitted. The way to test the importance of an item is to decide whether or not its omission with affect the reporting outcome and influence the reader’s or users perception of the true financial standing of a business. The omission of cents for example in a financial report would have negligible effect on ascertaining the true financial standing of a business. 

Verifiability convention
A business (or anyone auditing the business) should always be able to confirm its figures. Any person should be able to look at the figures and use the data to come to the same conclusions. In order to do this a business needs to produce evidence of its business transactions in the form of receipts, invoices, bank statements, EFT receipts and payments and cheque butts i.e. any documentation that was used to record transactions in the books.

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  • Student Manual
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Courses- Pathway to learning, Notes,
Set tasks, Lesson aims, Assignments, Interactive self-assessment tests


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After this course you will be able to do most of the tasks that a professional bookkeeper does.

If you wish to begin working as a bookkeeper; this is all that is required to get started. The benefit of studying this course will be different for each graduate.
  • It may start you a a pathway to a new career.
  • It may make you more valuable to the employer you already work for.
  • It may help you start up or improve the profitability of your own business
  • It may help you manage your own finances better and significantly improve your own financial well being.
  • It will certainly improve your personal resume and make you more enlightened about managing money
Having the ability to organise finances is a valued skill, both in the workplace and at home.

The natural 'next step' from Bookkeeping Foundations would be Bookkeeping Applications.

ACS Student comment:
"Yes it is [a valuable learning experience], it is challenging and in turn rewarding. I am getting an extensive knowledge of the field and am learning how to apply concepts in an easy way." Brei Huggins - Bookkeeping student, Australia.

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Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network

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ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

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  David Crothers

Extensive international experience in business and finance. Chartered Accountant with 20 years experience in corporate and financial roles. David has a FCA, GAICD, B.Sc.Econ (Hons), Cert IV TAA.
  Sonia Andrews

15 years experience in business, bookkeping and accounting.
  Denise Hodges

Promotions Manager for ABC retail, Fitness Programmer/Instructor, Small Business Owner, Marketing Coordinator (Laserpoint). Over 20 years varied experienced in business and marketing. More recently Denise studied naturopathy to share her passion for health and wellness. Denise has an Adv.Dip.Bus., Dip. Clothing Design, Adv.Dip.Naturopathy (completing).
  Sarah Edwards

Over 15 years industry experience covering marketing, PR, administration, event management and training, both in private enterprise and government; in Australia and the UK.
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