In this study, effect of the post-deposition thermal annealing on copper oxide thin films has been systemically investigated. The copper oxide thin films were chemically deposited on glass substrates by spin-coating. Samples were annealed in air at atmospheric pressure and at different temperatures ranging from 200 to 600 degrees C. The microstructural, morphological, optical properties and surface electronic structure of the thin films have been studied by diagnostic techniques such as X-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman spectroscopy, ultraviolet-visible (UV-VIS) absorption spectroscopy, field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The thickness of the films was about 520 nm. Crystallinity and grain size was found to improve with annealing temperature. The optical bandgap of the samples was found to be in between 1.93 and 2.08 eV. Cupric oxide (Cuo), cuprous oxide (Cu2O) and copper hydroxide (Cu(OH)(2)) phases were observed on the surface of as-deposited and 600 degrees C annealed thin films and relative concentrations of these three phases were found to depend on annealing temperature. A complete characterization reported herein allowed us to better understand the surface properties of copper oxide thin films which could then be used as active layers in optoelectronic devices such as solar cells and photodetectors. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.