SOAS University of London

School of Finance and Management

Public Financial Management: Planning and Performance

Module Code:
15PFMC090
Credits:
15
FHEQ Level:
7
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 2

Please note this module will not be available after the 2019/20 session

The focus of this course is almost entirely on the expenditure side of public financial management, looking at budgeting, accountability and the changes in financial management. In professions across the public sector, whether medical, educational, legal, engineering or custodial, people are making choices about investments, about how to achieve efficiency, how to stay within budget and how to improve performance. Whether reluctantly or willingly, people are having to understand costs, budgets, financial statements about cash flows, and expenditures, even when they are not in accountancy.

There are also changes in what people are being held to account for. It is no longer sufficient to have accounts that show that money has been spent how governments intended. Politicians and the public want to know how well it has been spent, whether it has been used efficiently and whether it has achieved the purposes for which it was allocated.

To cope with these and other changes, the ways in which public finances are managed has had to adapt. In many countries, budgets and accounts are no longer concerned just with the cash allocated and spent but also with the resources used in providing services – capital resources and assets, as well as people and materials. The further away from cash accounting the systems get the less they look like our personal accounts and the more we need to learn about the relevant concepts to enable us to understand and run them.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

  • Understand how public budgeting fits into the macroeconomic framework
  • Apply ideas about accountability to the production of various forms of account for public services and public money
  • Understand how changes in public management require different forms of public accounting
  • Read a budget and a set of national accounts in different jurisdictions
  • Understand costs and different ways of measuring them and how costs are used in budgets
  • Understand the budget process at national and sub-national levels and the techniques appropriate at different levels
  • Apply budgetary control methods
  • Appreciate how public financial management interfaces with politics and political choices
  • Use financial management to enhance the performance of public organisations

Workload

Lectures

This module consists of a 1-hour weekly lecture over 10 weeks of term plus a revision lecture in term 3 as preparation for the final examination. Students will be supplied with a syllabus with a breakdown week by week of required and additional reading. Reading materials are usually accessed electronically from the BLE and students should come to class prepared.

Tutorials

This module also has a weekly 1-hour tutorial where the questions posed by the tutor relevant to the lecture are explored and discussed by the students. Students also prepare and deliver a short presentation.

Total Work load:

Students on this module will have 2 taught hours each week. Additionally, adequate personal study time should be allocated for reading and class preparation.

Method of assessment

Assessment for this module is in three elements:

  1. One tutorial presentation at 10%
  2. One essay of 2,500 words at 30%
  3. One unseen 2-hour written examination at 60%

All elements except the presentation may be resubmitted.

Disclaimer

Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules