Understanding Public Financial Management: How Is Your Money Spent Course - SOAS University of London

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Program Description

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How do governments acquire and spend public money? Take a fresh look at public financial management with this free online course.

Why join the course?

How does the Covid-19 pandemic affect the public finances of governments? What went wrong in Greece’s handling of its public debt? How did a city government like Detroit go from prosperity to bankruptcy? And how could the looting, theft and corruption in Malawi’s “cashgate” have been avoided?

We are all concerned about where “our” money goes. We all want good roads and schools, thriving industry, and personal and national security, but how can we be sure that public monies are being managed properly, and how can we hold those in charge to account?

Understand and evaluate the management of public finances

This free online course will provide you with the knowledge and tools to understand and evaluate the management of financial resources across the public sector, wherever you are.

Drawing on the expertise of the Centre for Financial and Management Studies at SOAS, University of London, we’ll look at:

  • How governments and public sector organisations obtain financial resources through taxation, fees, charges, natural resources and other means.
  • How public sector organisations decide to use financial resources for attaining public policy goals and implementing public programmes.
  • How public sector organisations report their financial performance to the public.
  • How the use of public financial resources is audited.
  • How governments are made accountable for their financial decisions.

By the end of the four-week course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the basics of public financial management.
  • Read simple public sector financial statements.
  • Explain how governments raise finance through various means.
  • Explain how the budget process works at national and sub-national levels.
  • Understand how auditing is conducted in public sector organisations.
  • Understand how public sector organisations are held accountable to the public.

What topics will you cover?

  • Understanding financial statements: an examination of the information contained in common accounting terms.
  • Fiscal imbalances: causes and consequences.
  • Understanding public sector spending: how governments spend public money to implement public policies and execute programmes and projects.
  • Planning and budgeting: an analysis of how public expenditure decisions are made.
  • Evaluating public expenditures: understanding the effect of public spending decisions.
  • Cutting expenditures and the austerity agenda: how government austerity policies are used to reduce government activity.
  • Common sources of public revenues, including intergovernmental transfers, and alternative sources used by governments across the world.
  • Taxation: an exploration of the advantages and disadvantages of taxation, customs duties and fees, and their uses, from behavioural change to stimulating business activity.
  • Auditing and accountability: exploring the concept of accountability and explaining the importance of corporate governance in ensuring government accountability.
  • Understanding public governance: exploring how the crisis of public administration has led to financial disaster in cities like Detroit.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. 

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to:

  • Explore and understand the basics of public financial management.
  • Interpret and reflect on simple public sector financial statements.
  • Explain how governments raise finance through various means.
  • Explain how the budget process works at national and sub-national levels.
  • Discuss how auditing is conducted in public sector organisations.
  • Explore how public sector organisations are held accountable to the public.

Who is the course for?

This is a general level course, however, some knowledge of economics, political science, or accounting may be useful.

This course would also be of interest to those already working in public sector management or simply looking for a better understanding of contemporary financial issues.

Who will you learn with?

Alberto Asquer

I am a lecturer in Public Policy and Management at SOAS University of London. I do research on the management of public sector entities, public financial management, and regulation.

Who developed the course?

SOAS University of London

SOAS, University of London is the only Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East.

Join this course

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$259.99 for one year

Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 6 weeks

Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • Access to this course’s tests as well as a print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses.

Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses. Read less
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