Public Financial Management (MSc)

Overview

Gain a respected MSc in Public Financial Management by distance learning

Organisations need managers with a thorough understanding of public finance. The MSc in Public Financial Management is a preparation for making financial decisions and designing and operating financial systems for collecting, spending and accounting for public expenditure.

Programme aims

The MSc will enable you to make decisions about investment projects and provide you with skills and knowledge in budgeting, revenue policy, financial reporting and audit, compliance, or where financial matters take a central position in policy, such as in public-private partnerships or fiscal decentralisation.

Programme summary

  You study Study period Cost (2017-18)
MSc 8 modules 2-5 years £10,080
Individual Professional Awards You can take up to three individual modules from this distance learning programme. Each module lasts eight weeks and you are registered for two years. The fee per individual module is £1,260.

Prestige

The programme has been developed by academics at the Centre for Financial and Management Studies (CeFiMS), a postgraduate research and teaching department within SOAS, University of London. Staff at CeFiMS have international reputations and are involved in researching their subjects at the very limits of current knowledge.

Career progression

The MSc is suitable for people working in central Financial Ministries, or in financial management roles in line Ministries, sub-national governments or financial scrutiny functions in Parliaments or Supreme Audit Institutions. It will also be valuable for people working in consultancy and advisory functions, and in international financial institutions.

Comprehensive study materials and support

You will be given all of the learning materials that you need to complete each course. These will typically include:

  • The Study Guide, a core text specially written for the course. This takes the form of a loose leaf binder containing eight ‘course units’. The units are carefully structured to provide the main teaching of the course, defining and exploring the main concepts and issues, locating these within current debate and introducing and linking the further assigned readings.
  • Textbooks and collections of key journal articles and book extracts.
  • Online and multimedia tools. You will have access to the Online Learning Environment (OLE), which is a web-accessed learning environment. Via the OLE, you can communicate with your assigned academic tutor, administrators and other students on the course using discussion forums. The OLE also provides access to the course Study Guide and assignments, as well as a selection of electronic journals available on the University of London Online Library. In addition, some course material will also include video lectures on DVD, CDs of case studies, and econometric software.

Your time commitment

This will depend partly on choices you make, but most students take three years to complete the MSc. The study calendar consists of five sessions per year. Each session is devoted to a specific module and lasts eight weeks (with the exception of the first session which runs for 10 weeks). During each session you will need to allocate between 15-20 hours per week to complete the programme.

Summary of key dates

Public Financial Management
CeFiMS event Study session 1 Study session 2 Study session 3 Study session 4 Study session 5
Application deadline 11 September 2017 27 November 2017 29 January 2018 02 April 2018 28 May 2018
Enrolment deadline 25 September 2017 11 December 2017 12 February 2018 16 April 2018 11 June 2018
Start date 06 November 2017 22 January 2018 26 March 2018 28 May 2018 23 July 2018
Examinations September/October 2018

 

Structure

Structure and Syllabus

MSc: 8 modules (4 core modules and 4 elective)

Core modules

Macroeconomic policy and financial markets

This module has been specially designed to increase the depth of your understanding of macroeconomics by focusing on the relation financial markets have to macroeconomics. We place the subject in a real-world context, aiming to show how theoretical and empirical knowledge of macroeconomics and financial markets provides ways to analyse the salient problems faced by modern macroeconomic policy makers.

Unit 1: Macroeconomics and the World of Finance
Unit 2: Saving and Finance
Unit 3: Investment and Financial Markets
Unit 4: Monetary Policy and the Central Bank
Unit 5: Fiscal Policy and Government Finances
Unit 6: Expectations, Inflation, and Interest Rates
Unit 7: Foreign Exchange Markets and Foreign Trade
Unit 8: International Capital Flows and Financial Markets

Public financial management: planning and performance

In this course you will be introduced to the methods and issues of public financial management. You will examine subjects, including cost management, budgeting, expenditure control techniques, accounting for public spending and performance budgeting.

Unit 1: The Context of Financial Management
Unit 2: Budget Coverage, Classification and Structure
Unit 3: Costs
Unit 4: Accounting and Budgeting – National Level
Unit 5: Accounting and Budgeting – Sub-national Level
Unit 6: Budget Execution
Unit 7: Financial Management and Performance
Unit 8: Budgeting and Democracy

Public financial management: revenue

This course addresses the theory and practice of public finance with special reference to how governments raise revenues. It is concerned with taxation, borrowing and aid. There are economic principles that bear on the issues of financing public expenditure and these are covered in the course. If you have not studied economics before there is an Appendix that covers the relevant microeconomics concepts that underlie taxation theory. At the same time the course recognises that decisions on taxation, borrowing and aid are not taken solely with reference to economics but also to politics.

Unit 1: Tax Issues in Context
Unit 2: Taxation Incidence and Optimal Taxation
Unit 3: Policy Objectives and Taxation
Unit 4: Tax Policy Issues in Developing and Transition Countries (I)
Unit 5: Tax Policy Issues in Developing and Transition Countries (II)
Unit 6: Local Revenues in Developing and Transition Countries
Unit 7: Deficits and Debts
Unit 8: Foreign Aid and Debt Relief

Plus

Public financial management: Financial reporting (IFRS)

Financial reporting standards vary by country. These two modules, which are offered as alternatives, cover the financial accounting and reporting standards used in the public sector, as prescribed by the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board [external website] OR the standards prevalent in the private sector and some public jurisdictions, as laid down in the International Financial Reporting Standards. You should choose one module according to which set of standards are in operation where you work, or intend to work

Or

Public financial management: Financial reporting (IPSAS)

Financial reporting standards vary by country. These two modules, which are offered as alternatives, cover the financial accounting and reporting standards used in the public sector, as prescribed by the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board OR the standards prevalent in the private sector and some public jurisdictions, as laid down in the International Financial Reporting Standards. You should choose one module according to which set of standards are in operation where you work, or intend to work.

PLUS four electives chosen from the following

Decentralisation and local governance

You will study the fiscal and policy relationships between local and sub-national government. The course explores democracy and public participation in the policy process, local poverty reduction and local economic development.

Unit 1: Decentralisation: What and Why?
Unit 2: Fiscal Decentralisation
Unit 3: Cases in Fiscal Decentralisation
Unit 4: Administrative Decentralisation
Unit 5: Decentralisation and Participation
Unit 6: Assessing Decentralisation in Practice
Unit 7: Local Economic Development
Unit 8: Decentralisation and Poverty

Privatisation and public-private partnerships

This course looks at a variety of innovations for producing public services. These range from privatisation to partnerships with private and voluntary organisations. The course will enable you to undertake the analyse necessary to make the best choice of method, and to begin the process of implementation.

Unit 1: Introduction to Privatisation in the OECD Countries
Unit 2: Scale and Methods of Privatisation in Africa, Latin America and Asia
Unit 3: Impact of Privatisation
Unit 4: Case Studies in Privatisation
Unit 5: Outsourcing, Contracting and Competition
Unit 6: Case Studies in Procurement
Unit 7: Public-Private Partnerships
Unit 8: Public-Private Partnerships: Cases and Conclusions

Public Policy & Management: Development Assistance

The purpose of this module can summarised by the questions that students will be asked to think about and analyse in their study of this topic.

  • Has aid increased the rate of economic growth in the aid recipient countries?
  • Does aid change government policies?
  • Does aid have a detrimental effect on governments’ accountibility to their citizens?
  • Do donor conditions have an effect on the quality of governance in recipient countries?
  • Does the aid industry distort the labour market in recipient countries and adversely affect government capacity?
  • Do donors need recipient governments more that governments need donors?
  • Does food aid adversely affect food production?
  • Does aid promote corruption?

Unit 1: A Brief History of Development Assistance
Unit 2: Development Assistance and Economic Development
Unit 3: Humanitarian Assistance
Unit 4: Making Poverty History
Unit 5: The Aid Agencies
Unit 6: Funding and Resource Allocation
Unit 7: Implementation: Aid Modalities, Conditionality and Aid Effectiveness
Unit 8: Reflections on Development Assistance
 

The International Monetary Fund and economic policy

The module examines the changing roles of the IMF, the nature of economic policies it encourages countries to pursue, and some of the effects these policies have on the economic environment of business, on the financial sector, and on social conditions. The module gives a simple introduction to the basic IMF economic policy framework, 'financial programming'. Using different types of countries, including transition economies and developing countries as case studies, it enables you to study issues such as the role of capital controls and the problems of highly indebted countries.

Unit 1: Macroeconomic Stabilisation and the Role of the International Monetary Fund
Unit 2: The IMF’s Approach to Stabilisation
Unit 3: Alternative Approaches to Stabilisation
Unit 4: Stabilisation and the Financial Sector
Unit 5: Stabilisation Policy and the Financial Sector: Institutional Responses to Recent Crises
Unit 6: Stabilisation and the Financial Sector: Some Challenges and Controversies
Unit 7: Stabilisation and Low-income Countries
Unit 8: Challenges for Low-income Countries

Project appraisal

This is a course about financial and economic appraisal of projects. The project is a very specific element of the public policy and management mix. It normally consists of an investment, that is the creation of an asset which will generate benefits, financial and non-financial over a period of more than one year. This is not universally applicable as a working definition, as ‘project’ is often used to describe a set of discrete activities that do not always involve a capital investment, to achieve some specific goals. In this course, however, we will be dealing with capital investments.

Unit 1 Investment Appraisal Techniques I
Unit 2 Investment Appraisal Techniques II
Unit 3 Social Cost-Benefit Analysis
Unit 4 Valuation Methodologies in Social Cost-Benefit Analysis
Unit 5 Sector Analysis and Case Studies in SCBA
Unit 6 Risk and Uncertainty Analysis
Unit 7 Distributional Issues and Social Cost-Benefit Analysis
Unit 8 Critique and Reflection

Public Financial Management: Audit and compliance

You will learn the uses and methods of audit, as a tool to ensure compliance and as part of governments' efforts to improve performance. You will learn about both internal and external audit and about the role and functions of supreme audit institutions.

Unit 1 Public Sector Auditing
Unit 2 External Audit and Reporting
Unit 3 Internal Audit and Control
Unit 4 Risk Assessment and a Systems-Based Approach
Unit 5 Forensic Accounting
Unit 6 Value-for-Money and Performance Reviews
Unit 7 Contract Audit
Unit 8 Other Approaches to Audit

Management accounting

This module aims to provide an advanced overview of current developments in thought and practice of management accounting, strategy, and organisational control. Emphases are given to the economic and behavioural analysis of management accounting issues and to strategic and organisational aspects of control systems design.

Unit 1 The Context of Management Accounting
Unit 2 Pricing and Production-Volume Decisions
Unit 3 Production Decisions, the Value Chain and Production Capacity
Unit 4 Volume-Based Cost Systems
Unit 5 Activity-Based Cost Systems I
Unit 6 Activity-Based Cost Systems II
Unit 7 Capital Investment Decisions
Unit 8 Performance Measurement Systems and Strategic Budgeting

Research methods C353

This module concentrates on helping you develop a rigorous understanding of the key principles and practice of research that are needed to get a research project up and running.

Unit 1: The Nature of Research
Unit 2: Planning and Designing Research
Unit 3: Reviewing the Literature and Making Methodological Choices
Unit 4: Data
Unit 5A: Interviews, Focus Groups and Surveys
Unit 5B: Introduction to Data Analysis I
Unit 6A: Fieldwork and Observation
Unit 6B: Introduction to Data Analysis II
Unit 7: Validity and Reliability
Unit 8: Writing and Presenting Research

Dissertation C354 (prerequisite C353 Research methods)

The dissertation is a supervised piece of research on a topic that we will agree with you. The length will be 10,000 words. Before we can consider a proposal to submit a dissertation we will need to review your academic performance so far. Completing the Research Methods module is a prerequisite for undertaking the dissertation.

The dissertation does not run over a single session. Instead students enrol on the dissertation by the enrolment deadline for Session 2 (24 November 2014) and have until 1 October 2015 to complete their research, write up their results and submit their final thesis.

Study materials

How you study

Without leaving your job or home you can study, write and submit assignments, receive expert guidance from your CeFiMS tutor and advice from the student support team. In addition to printed study materials, the Virtual Learning Environment allows you to work with course materials, send queries to tutors and submit assignments via the Internet.

When you take a CeFiMS distance learning course you will be sent everything you need to complete your studies. A typical set of course learning materials would include:

  • The Study Guide, a core text specially written for the course. This takes the form of a looseleaf binder containing eight ‘course units’. The units are carefully structured to provide the main teaching of the course, defining and exploring the main concepts and issues, locating these within current debate and introducing and linking the further assigned readings.
  • Textbooks and collections of key journal articles and book extracts.
  • Online and multimedia tools. You will have access to the VLE, which is a web-accessed learning environment. Via the VLE, you can communicate with your assigned academic tutor, administrators and other students on the course using discussion forums. The VLE also provides access to the course Study Guide and assignments, as well as a selection of electronic journals available on the University of London Online Library. In addition, some courses materials will also include video lectures on DVD, CDs of case studies, and econometric software.

Virtual Learning Environment 
Created by CeFiMS to provide additional resources and support, the VLE allows you to:

  • access study materials that complement printed texts
  • submit assignments
  • communicate with tutors
  • contact support staff regarding administrative queries
  • access online resources provided by the University of London Library including full-text journal databases of JSTOR and EBSCO.

Note: Students who are eligible to use the VLE are automatically contacted by CeFiMS staff and given information about how to access the system for their course.

Fees

Fees

Fees may be paid in one of two ways:

Either, pay the total fee on registration by making a single payment for all the module fees;
 
Or, if you prefer to spread out your payments, pay the fee for each module you want to take in the first year, and then in subsequent years pay the fee for each new module you take.
 
Fees are subject to annual review. The 2017-18 fees take effect from 1 August 2017.
2017-18
Fee per module£ 1,260
TOTAL MSc£ 10,080
ConvertGBP x 1

Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for:
  • the fee charged to your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary
  • customs duties/taxes where these are payable on educational materials, including educational USB stick/CDs. We recommend that you check the status of imported educational materials with your country’s customs authorities.

Funding

If you are a UK or EU national and you have lived in England for three years, you could be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan.

Note 

Fees are subject to annual revision and typically may be increased by up to 5% per annum. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.
Assessment

With the exception of the Dissertation, all modules are assessed by one three-hour unseen written examination and two assignments of 2,500 words each. The Dissertation is assessed by the submission of a written dissertation of not more than 10,000 words, excluding the bibliography and appendices.

The grade awarded on each individual module will be based on the mark obtained in the written examination and on the combined mark for the assignments. The examination mark and the combined mark of the assignments will be weighted on the scale 70:30. If you fail a written examination at the first sitting, you will be allowed one further attempt after which your registration will cease.

Exams, both overseas and in the UK, take place once a year in September/October. They are normally held in a student's country of residence, using the existing system of overseas examinations authorities which the University of London operates for all its students. Exams for students in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland are normally held in London.

Requirements

Academic Requirements

In order to be considered for registration applicants must have:

  • a Bachelor’s degree in a social science discipline, or other appropriate discipline, from a UK university or other institution acceptable to the University, or an equivalent international qualification (qualifications in other subjects will be assessed on their merits)

or

  • previous education and experience without a UK Bachelor’s degree, or international equivalent, that satisfies the University as a qualification on the same level as a UK Bachelor’s degree approved under the point above for this urpose and has included suitable preliminary training.

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources.

To get the most from your studies, your computer should have at least the following minimum specification: 

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • a word processor that reads Microsoft Word format (.doc)
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader.

For some modules you will require a CD drive and DVD player.

* Full mobile access is not available for all programmes.

Language Requirements

For all of our modules you are required to have a high level of English language ability in reading and writing and in study skills.

If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability as tested by the British Council or another registered body. This is equivalent to a score of 7.0 overall in the IELTS test, or 7.0 in both reading and writing.

Academic leaders

Academic leadership - CeFiMS

Lead College

The Centre for Financial & Management Studies (CeFiMS) is a postgraduate research and teaching department at SOAS, University of London.

Our programmes give students a strong academic foundation to their professional skills. Other students study for a degree with us because of their love of learning and their desire to widen their understanding of the world. The programmes are available in a range of flexible options, so you can choose the speed, depth and even the location of your postgraduate study.

As one of our graduates, you will become part of an exclusive network of alumni based in leading private and public sector organisations throughout the world.

Academic staff

In total, more than eighty academics act as online tutors. In addition, there is a dedicated team of student advisers. For more information, please visit the CeFiMS website [external link].