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Centre for Financial and Management Studies (CeFiMS)

Public Financial Management Audit and Compliance

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Audit and compliance are a central tool in public policy and management. It is a fundamental to understanding the institutions involved and how they impact on public services. 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.


Study Guide

You will receive a looseleaf binder containing eight units and this is your core learning resource as it directs your study. Each unit has recommended reading either from the core text books or from supplementary readings which are included in the Course Reader. The study guide also directs you through the case studies which form an important part of this module.


Marlene Davies and John Aston (2011) Auditing Fundamentals Prentice Hall (Pearson)

A H Millichamp, John Taylor (2008) Auditing Cengage Learning EMEA, 9th Edition (Revised)


You are provided with a range of academic journal articles, extracts from supplementary text books and other reports or material. You will also consider a number of Case Studies. All these comprise the Course Reader which forms an essential part of this course.

Virtual Learning Environment

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 module using discussion forums. The VLE also provides access to the module Study Guide and assignments, as well as a selection of electronic journals available on the University of London Online Library.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

When you have completed the study of this module and its readings you will be able to:

  • describe the role of a supreme audit institution (SAI)
  • discuss the process of public sector audit
  • explain the differences between audit in the private sector and audit in the public sector
  • explain the fundamental requirements and standards which are relevant when undertaking audit of the public sector
  • discuss the role of INTOSAI, and the role of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), and the key standards developed by the IAASB
  • distinguish different models of SAI and explain how they are represented in various countries
  • explain the need for audit sampling, and how this is done
  • outline and discuss guidance and standards on audit reporting
  • assess the importance of value for money (performance) audit
  • present guidance on value for money audit
  • explain the principles of IT and information system audit
  • understand Risk Assessment and a Systems Based Approach.

Scope and syllabus

Course Units
Unit 1: Public Sector Auditing

The Unit will cover the public sector model and issues of corporate governance. It will look at the role of audit and the use of audit to encourage better practice and more efficiency as well as compliance with rules and standards.

Unit 2: External Audit and Reporting

The Unit will cover asset and liability verification against a backdrop of accrual accounting. Issues of audit reporting will conclude the unit. The role of the Supreme Audit Institution will be included in this Unit.

Unit 3: Internal Audit and Control

This Unit will cover the different approach to Internal Audit, together with the internal audit standards. The concept of Internal Control together with cybernetic control theory will also be covered.

Unit 4: Risk Assessment and a Systems Based Approach

This unit will cover risk identification, measurement and management. A systems based approach to audit builds on control objectives, key controls and concludes with testing.

Unit 5: Forensic Accounting

This unit will cover issues of fraud investigation evidence and security together with modern frauds such as phishing and identity theft.

Unit 6: Value for Money Reviews and performance auditing

This unit will consider different approaches to VFM from BPR to performance indicators.

Unit 7: Contract Auditing

This unit will take a systems approach to capital construction contracts (the most complex) and also cover revenue contract and facilities management.

Unit 8: Other approaches to audit

This Unit will consider different approaches and will include computer audit; environmental auditing; and social audit.

Method of assessment

Students are individually assigned an academic tutor for the duration of the module, with whom you can discuss academic queries at regular intervals during the study session.

You are required to complete two Assignments for this module, which will be marked by your tutor. Assignments are each worth 15% of your total mark. You will be expected to submit your first assignment by the Tuesday of Week 5, and the second assignment at the end of the module, on the Tuesday after Week 8. Assignments are submitted and feedback given online. In addition, queries and problems can be answered through the Virtual Learning Environment.

You will also sit a three-hour examination on a specified date in October, worth 70% of your total mark. An up-to-date timetable of examinations is published on the website in April each year.