Our MSc Public Financial Management programme will enable you with the conceptual tools and the practical skills to analyse, understand, and play a role in the management of public financial resources.
The core modules of the programme will equip students with theoretical knowledge about programming, budgeting, collecting revenue and reporting about the financial performance of public sector entities.
Elective modules will provide students the possibility to deepen their understanding of more specific areas such as, for example, development assistance and foreign aid, the role of capital markets and banks, management accounting and project appraisal. Along the way, students will develop capabilities to analyse, critically appraise and communicate which will provide valuable assets for their professional activity and career prospects.
The subject area of public financial management refers to all systems, processes and tools that public authorities employ to manage the financial resources in the public sector. Public financial management has various ramifications – for example, from the collection of revenue to the budgeting of expenditures, and from financial reporting to the auditing and evaluation of public entities and programmes. The prudent, efficient and effective management of public finances is vital for the delivery of public policies and services.
Why study MSc Public Financial Management at SOAS
- we're ranked 11 in the UK and 2 in London for Business and Management by the 2019 Guardian University league table
- programmes are delivered by a multicultural and international teaching body, who regularly publish in top international journals
- you will develop an excellent understanding of key issues shaping international business strategy
- we are specialists in the delivery of more that forty African and Asian languages. As the economies of the Global South continue to expand, knowledge of another language and other cultures will be a big asset in the world of commerce and international trade
- you will be joining our thriving community of alumni and academics who have an impact on the world outside of academia
- you will be able to flexibly structure your programme using our optional modules and/or optional modules from other departments, including the opportunity to learn a regional language
This programme has a first-rate graduate employability record. Graduates will have a solid understanding of public financial management that should place them in a good position to pursue a career, or advance their career, in the civil service, local government, NGOs, and super-national organisations.
Click here to find out more about our MOOC: Understanding Public Financial Management: How Is Your Money Spent?
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- Minimum first degree with good grades in any subject equivalent to a UK upper second class honours
- One calendar year (full-time) Two or Three calendar years (part-time)
- UK/EU fees:
- Overseas fees:
Fees for 2019/20 entrants. This is a Band 4 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page
Introducing the MSc Public Financial Management
Public financial management deals with all aspects of resource and expenditure management within governments. Alberto Asquer, Lecturer of Public Policy and Management at SOAS, outlines why it is so important that we understand how our public purse is spent.
What does the course involve?
The MSc Public Financial Management provides students with an understanding of managing public finances in the public sector.
Public financial management is about a particular aspect of public sector management, namely the administration of public money. This function is extremely important however, because what the public sector does closely relates – in one way or another – to the handling of financial resources. Governments spend money through public programmes and projects, raise money through taxation and other means, and induce the desired behaviour of individuals and firms through various means, which include payments and fines. In addition, reporting and auditing the financial management of the public sector is pivotal to monitor the conduct of public officers (whether they are elected, appointed, or employed) and ensure the accountability of public sector entities.
This MSc programme will look at the various component parts of the public financial management system and processes. We will cover the many ways in which the public sector spends and raises financial resources. We will pay attention to issues of public debt, seigniorage, and financial reporting, according to different accounting standards. We will especially discuss how different public financial management policy options matter and what are the implications of alternative choices to fund the public sector.
In addition, we look at several countries and regions in the world, because the local context matters a lot – in such terms as the institution, history and cultural traditions. Students will have the opportunity to learn from policy experiences across countries and to contrast and compare how policy tools work under different conditions.
What kind of students will the course appeal to?
The programme will interest students who aim to have a career in the financial management of public sector entities, like in central government (especially treasury and finance departments) but also in sub-national government, international organisations like the World Bank, and public agencies. The programme may also attract the interest of people who work or aim to work in the financial sector and consultancy.
Some of our students have some work experience, either in government or in private or non-profit organisations. Other students do not have any work experience, but have just recently completed their undergraduate studies.
What is special about the course at SOAS?
SOAS is uniquely positioned with its concentration of expertise on Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This feature is partially reflected in the course contents, where attention is placed on public policies in developing countries, although part of the contents also covers experiences in more industrialised countries and regions of the world.
A particular feature of the MSc Public Financial Management is the combination of insights from diverse disciplines like public economics, finance, accounting, and public policy. The programme is not just focused on the design of fiscal policies or on the accounting of public sector entities. Rather, it aims to provide students with a broader understanding of the public financial management process and of the kind of policy choices that are made, for example in the design of a tax system or in the choice of accounting standards.
What do students do after graduating?
Most students enter or continue a career in the public sector, mainly in central government, but also in the non-profit sector.
Students must take 180 credits. These are composed of 120 taught credits comprising core and optional modules and a 60 credit dissertation.
The 10,000 word dissertation is worth 33% of your final mark. During term 2 you will submit your dissertation proposal and be allocated an academic supervisor. Over the ensuing months you should meet with your supervisor at least three times before the end of term 3 for guidance. The bulk of your dissertation will be written over the summer to meet the mid-September deadline.
Students must undertake a Dissertation in Public Financial Management (15PFMC990) - to the value of 60 credits.
- PLUS choose modules to the value of 60 credits from the list below:
List of modules (subject to availability)
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.
Teaching & Learning
The MSc is made up of six modules. Each module is studied in one for four 10-week sessions. You can only take one module at a time, but each module is typically available in at least two of the year's study sessions. This gives you the flexibility to plan how you study during the year, enabling you to fit your study in with your professional, family and personal commitments.
You will be individually assigned an online academic tutor for the duration of each module with whom you can discuss academic queries at regular intervals during the study session. You will also have a named administrator providing you with help and advice throughout your studies.
Before the start of each module you have enrolled on, you will be sent a package containing all of the study materials that you need to complete the module – the core text, textbooks, a collection of key articles, and any module related software.
To make your experience as a distance learning student more complete and rewarding, we provide access to the Virtual Learning Environment, 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.
For each module, you will sit a three-hour examination, held on a specified date in September/October, and complete two assignments during the module study session. Assignments are submitted and feedback given online. Examinations and assignments are weighted 70:30.
- Allen, R., Hemming, R., and Potter, B. (eds) (2013), The International Handbook of Public Financial Management. London: Palgrave Macmillan
- Asquer, A. (2017), Public Sector Revenue: Principles, Policies and Management. London: Routledge.
Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.
This is a Band 4 tuition fee.
Fees for 2019/20 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Fees go up each year, therefore, your tuition fee in your second & subsequent years of study will be higher. Our continuing students, on the same degree programme, are protected from annual increases higher than 5%.
||Part-time 2 Years
||Part-time 3 Years
Application Deadline: 2020-01-31 15:00
Application Deadline: 2020-01-31 15:00
Application Deadline: 2020-02-20 15:00
Application Deadline: 2020-02-20 15:00
Application Deadline: 2020-06-05 15:00
For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section
This degree is suitable for people working in central Finance 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.
A Student's Perspective
The cultural diversity of the student body makes for a multi-dimensional learning experience