SOAS University of London

Centre for Financial and Management Studies (CeFiMS)

Financial Reporting (International Public Sector Accounting Standards – IPSAS)

Module Code:


Accounting for public sector organisations is a vital yet complex task. Like businesses, public organisations need to keep accurate records of the income and spending. This information is needed both for internal decision making and to demonstrate accountability to their stakeholders.

This course is designed to provide sufficient knowledge of public sector financial reporting practices to use the information produced and to contribute to debates on the development of reporting policy. We will concentrate on financial reporting using International Public Sectors Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Although these standards have now been adopted in some countries, many other countries are in the process of adoption or have implemented systems similar to IPSAS.


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.


Bandy G (2011) Financial Management and Accounting in the Public Sector, Routledge.

Müller-Marqués Berger T and Ernst & Young (2012) IPSAS Explained A Summary of International Public Sector Accounting Standards, 2nd Edition, Wiley.


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 module

When you have completed your study of this module, you will be able to:

  • discuss the theoretical framework and principles of financial reporting for public sector entities
  • evaluate the adoption of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)
  • critically assess accountability in relation to public sector financial reports
  • explain and contrast the differences in external reporting on a cash and accruals basis
  • determine the disclosure of specific assets and liabilities in accordance with the IPSAS
  • discuss the process of consolidation for public sector financial reports and evaluate the usefulness of the reports produced
  • discuss the importance of financial governance and its relationship to public accountability and explain the role of financial reports in governance

Scope and syllabus

Unit 1: Context of Financial Reporting
  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Private Sector versus Public Sector
  • 1.3 Useful Financial Information and its Users
  • 1.4 Rationale for Financial Reporting Standards
  • 1.5 The IPSASB
  • 1.6 The Conceptual Framework for Public Sector Accounting
  • 1.7 Summary
Unit 2: Budgeting and Performance Reporting
  • 2.1 Budgeting in the Public Sector
  • 2.2 Budgets and Outturn Reporting (IPSAS 24)
  • 2.3 Performance Budgeting and Reporting
  • 2.4 Programme Budgeting
  • 2.5 Public Accountability
  • 2.6 Case Studies
  • 2.7 Feedback on Case Studies
  • 2.8 Summary
Unit 3: Accounting Concepts and Bases
  • 3.1 Cash- versus Accruals-Based Accounting
  • 3.2 Application in the Public Sector
  • 3.3 Cash-Basis IPSAS
  • 3.4 Accruals-Based Accounting and IPSAS
  • 3.5 Case Studies
  • 3.6 Feedback on Case Studies
  • 3.7 Summary
Unit 4: Accounting for Public Assets under IPSAS
  • 4.1 Current Assets
  • 4.2 Non-Current Assets
  • 4.3 Leased Assets
  • 4.4 Intangible Assets
  • 4.5 Heritage Assets
  • 4.6 Case Studies
  • 4.7 Feedback on Case Studies
  • 4.8 Summary
Unit 5: Accounting for Liabilities
  • 5.1 Current and Non-Current Liabilities
  • 5.2 Provisions and Contingent Liabilities
  • 5.3 The Special Case of Government Liabilities
  • 5.4 Case Studies
  • 5.5 Feedback on Case Studies
  • 5.6 Summary
Unit 6: Whole of Government Accounts (WGA)
  • 6.1 Consolidated Financial Statements
  • 6.2 The Consolidation Process
  • 6.3 Uses of Consolidated Financial Reports
  • 6.4 Using WGA to Judge Government Financial Performance
  • 6.5 Case Studies
  • 6.6 Feedback on Case Studies
  • 6.7 Summary
Unit 7: Public-Private Partnerships (PPP)
  • 7.1 What are PPP?
  • 7.2 Use of PPP
  • 7.3 Accounting for PPP
  • 7.4 Case Studies
  • 7.5 Feedback on Case Studies
  • 7.6 Summary
Unit 8: The Financial Governance of Public Bodies
  • 8.1 Financial Governance Definitions
  • 8.2 Corporate Governance Principles
  • 8.3 Creative Accounting
  • 8.4 Case Studies
  • 8.5 Feedback on Case Studies
  • 8.6 Summary
  • 8.7 The Examination

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.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules