Postgraduate taught 

Corporate Governance & Accountability MSc

Public Sector Financial Management ACCFIN5214

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: Adam Smith Business School
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course gives students the opportunity to explore the management of public resources and critically evaluate the foundations upon which public sector financial management systems are based. It will provide students with a thorough insight into the theories and relevant issues underpinning public sector finance, management and governance processes.


10 x 2 hour lectures and 4 x 1 hour tutorials

Excluded Courses





Assignment 25%, Examination 75%.


The exam will last two hours.


The assignment will take the form of an individual piece of work, requiring the completion of a 1,500 word essay that will require students to research and critically analyse a current public sector financial management issue. Successful completion of this work will require clear evidence of relevant applications, informed by current research and practice in the area.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

This course has three key aims: firstly, to offer students the opportunity to explore the key theoretical foundations underpinning how public sectors are governed, managed and organised financially; secondly, to study the way in which public sectors function from a practical standpoint, in the process contextualising how decision-making and accountability processes are operated; and thirdly, to explore key ideas that condition the conduct of organisations in public sectors, and applying these in evaluating how public sector financial management is carried out in practice and how public resources are used.


The course will also give students the opportunity to explore the various concepts that determine the conduct of public sector activities - such as regularity, propriety and securing efficient and effective value for money outcomes - and evaluate how these issues influence decision-making processes in public sector settings. Using materials from various countries, the course will encourage students to develop a greater appreciation of how public sector organisations, and their financial management, impact economies and wider society. Emphasis will be placed on developing the key skills of critical analysis, organising, analysing and synthesising materials, whilst working in group and individual settings and developing effective oral and written communication skills. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Explain and critically evaluate the conceptual framework upon which public sector financial management is based;

2. Determine and critically assess the factors that do, and should, influence the practice of financial management, governance and accountability in a public sector context;

3. Recognize and critically evaluate the literature informing public sector financial management issues, in the process developing an appreciation of how to approach and resolve complex financial management and governance matters in public sector settings;

4. Assess key public sector financial management issues and critique key accountability issues that arise in the process of managing public resources;

5. Recognize and critically evaluate arrangements relating to the mechanisms of financial planning, management, accountability and delivery of public services

6. Compare and synthesise the role of key players involved in managing financial resources in a public sector context.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.