Public Financial Management

School: School of Government
International Development Department

Modular value: 20 credits

Module Convenor: Simon Delay

The aims of this module are to introduce participants to concepts and practices in public sector financial management with an emphasis on management at the organisational level.

The module covers approaches applicable in a broad range of countries both developed and developing. Core themes of financial planning, budgeting, accounting, auditing and, financial control pervade the module. The management of revenue is covered briefly with the emphasis on managing expenditure within an overall financial management framework. The underlying discipline adopted is economics allied to the applied discipline of accounting but no prior knowledge of accounting or economics is assumed. Accounting is treated briefly at the level required of a general manager rather than in any technical detail. The underlying intention is to put participants in a position to take part in the strategic financial management of an organisation or in reform of financial management practices at organisational or at system level.

Learning outcomes

After following the module, completing appropriate reading, and undertaking assignments, participants should be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the key roles and relationships in financial management
  • Locate public sector financial management within its public spending framework and the broad mechanism for channelling resources
  • Understand and be able to use the products of key financial management tools including budgeting, financial accounting, management accounting, and project analysis
  • Be able to participate at a strategic level in debates on the policy issues in developing appropriate financial management systems and policies
  • Understand the relationship between performance management and financial management and be able to critically evaluate performance.
  • Be familiar with the main approaches to financial control and to financial and oversight
  • Understand modern approaches to resource management including devolved financial management and public private partnerships in project finance.
  • Develop critical and analytical skills for application in a variety of context

Teaching and learning approach

This module will be delivered through a series of sessions involving a mixture of lecture, plenary discussion and some tasks done in groups. Students will be expected to prepare for these sessions through reading, particularly of assigned cases.

Topics covered include:

  • Role of Finance in the Public Sector
  • The Public Expenditure Management framework
  • Financing the Public Sector (Dr Peter Watt)
  • Financial Planning and Budgeting - Introduction
  • Performance Budgeting
  • Accounting and Costing
  • Financial Audit and Financial Control
  • Performance Audit
  • Devolving Financial Management
  • Public Investment and Project Finance


The assessment for the module will consist of:

  • One assignment of not more than 3000 words which counts for 50% of the final results
  • A final three hour unseen examination, which counts for 50% of the final results.

The assignment will involve a case study of the participants’ choosing either of an organisation or a country examining specified aspects of financial management.

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.