Explore and understand how you can manage public money effectively to create and demonstrate value for citizens.

8,466 enrolled on this course

A crowd of people, including doctors, police officers, fire fighters and teachers, highlighting the sectors that public financial management affects
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Understand the key principles of public financial management

The public sector provides a wide range of important services to citizens, including healthcare, education, transport, policing, justice and defence.

This online course, run in partnership with The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, introduces you to the main features of public sector financial management, in a way that allows you to apply them to your own context.

You’ll discover how there is more to public finance than taxes, understand where public money comes from, and examine how and why it gets spent.

What topics will you cover?

  • The differences between financial management in the public and private sectors.
  • The basics of taxation, including different types of taxes and their features.
  • Different approaches to budgeting and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • The key internal controls for managing the finances of any organisation.
  • The prevention of fraud and corruption.
  • The five Es of value for money: effectiveness, economy, efficiency, equity, ethics.
  • How to put a value on the costs and benefits of public services.
  • The importance of accountability and transparency in the management of public money.
  • The role of external and internal auditors and what an audit opinion means.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

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

  • Apply and understand the purpose of public financial management.
  • Evaluate and understand budgets in the public sector.
  • Demonstrate and understand incremental budgeting and zero-based budgeting.
  • Explain and appreciate the important of value for money and ways in which public spending is managed.
  • Assess and understand accountability mechanisms and the role of auditors in the public sector.

Who is the course for?

This course provides a practical introduction for anyone drawn to working in public financial management, as well as essential continuous professional development for early career public finance professionals.

It is also suitable for managers in public bodies and charities, whose roles involve public financial management - for example, doctors, librarians, social workers, police officers, engineers or civil servants.

Who will you learn with?

I am a Senior Lecturer in Finance at the Open University and lead its MSc in Finance. My research is on the financing of innovative businesses, venture capital and frictions in financial markets.

Who developed the course?

The Open University

As the UK’s largest university, The Open University (OU) supports thousands of students to achieve their goals and ambitions via supported distance learning, helping to fit learning around professional and personal life commitments.

  • Established

  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Endorsers and supporters

supported by

CIPFA logo

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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