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Public Financial Management


This MSc programme provides you with an understanding of the financial management of the public sector, from making public spending decisions to raising up public revenue, from reporting the financial performance of public sector organisations to the role of audit and compliance.

With this degree, you will be able to make decisions and to appraise the consequences of choices about financing, spending, and managing financial processes in government and public sector organisations.

iPad showing economic statistics
This MSc allows you to learn where financial matters take a central position in policy, such as in public-private partnerships or fiscal decentralisation.

By studying this degree, you will:

  • you will gain the skills and knowledge necessary for careers in the field of public finance consultancy or in international financial institutions
  • study modules that cover budgeting, revenue policy, financial reporting and audit, as well as compliance
  • learn where financial matters take a central position in policy, such as in public-private partnerships or fiscal decentralisation.

Course details

You will study six modules, three core and three elective.

View Modules

The programme is offered online and is fully supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). You study at a time and pace that suits you (subject to course-specific deadlines) using the study materials provided and support from a dedicated CeFiMS tutor.

Study materials

We will send you study materials developed by academics at SOAS. These include a core subject guide for each course; further textbooks and collections of key readings; and various online and multimedia tools.

Online support

When you register, you gain access to your Student Portal. You can then access your university email account and other key resources:

  • The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) enables access to course materials, resources, and activities.     
  • A dedicated Associate Tutor, who you can contact with queries.
  • The Online Library holds thousands of journal articles which you can access free of charge. A dedicated helpdesk is available if you have any difficulties in finding what you need.
  • Discussion forums to facilitate peer-to-peer learning.

Time commitment

Most students take three years to complete the MSc, but this can vary according to need.

The study calendar consists of five sessions per year. Each session is devoted to a specific module and lasts eight weeks (with the exception of the first session which runs for 10 weeks). During each session you should expect to study between 15-20 hours per week.


Each module is assessed by a three-hour unseen written exam (70% of the module mark), and two assignments of 2,500 words (30% of the mark). The dissertation is assessed by a thesis of 10,000 words (excluding bibliography and appendices).

Exams take place once a year in September/October. You have two attempts to pass an exam, after which your registration will cease.

More about exams.

What qualifications do you need?

You will need either a bachelor degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. finance, economics) from an institution acceptable to the University or relevant education and work experience that comprises suitable training for the programme.

If you have a qualification in an unrelated subject or an international qualification considered equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, we will consider these on their own merits.

English Language requirements

If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability as tested by the British Council or another registered body. This is equivalent to a score of 7.0 overall in the iELTS test, or 7.0 in both reading and writing.

Computer requirements

We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Student Portal and it is vital that you can access this regularly. Certain courses may have additional requirements, such as software to manage spreadsheets and run macros.

See more about computer requirements.

The fees below apply if you begin during the 2018-2019 session. These may be increased by up to 5% per year.

Total MSc

£ 10,080

Cost per module

£ 1,260

Disclaimer: Currency conversion tool.

Additional Costs

You will also need to budget for exam centre fees, which are paid directly to the venues where you sit your exams, and any customs duties or taxes payable on educational materials (e.g. USB/CDs).

Method of payment

Please contact CeFiMS:

The MSc is suitable for people working in central Financial 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.

What do employers think of our graduates?

In some countries, qualifications earned by distance and flexible learning may not be recognised by certain authorities or regulators for the purposes of public sector employment or further study. We advise you to explore the local recognition status before you register, even if you plan to receive support from a local teaching institution.

The programme is developed by academics at the Centre for Financial and Management Studies (CeFiMS), a postgraduate research and teaching department within SOAS, University of London.

The academics at CeFiMS have international reputations and are involved in researching their subjects at the very limits of current knowledge. Over 80 academics act as online tutors. There is also a dedicated team of student advisers.

Programme Directors

Dr Alberto Asquer is Director of Public Policy & Management and Public Financial Management programmes at the Centre for Financial and Management Studies (CeFiMS). He convenes on the MSc Public Financial Management and the MSc Public Policy and Management. Research interests include: Public policy and management, especially in the political economy of regulation and regulatory reforms, public policy implementation, public management.

Without the cost of moving to London, studying for your University of London degree anywhere in the world represents excellent value for money. However, there are additional sources of support depending on where you live and how you choose to study.

More on funding your study.

Can I get sponsored?

If you're employed, your employer may be willing to cover part/all of the programme fees if you can make a compelling case as to how this programme will boost your contribution to the workplace.

Our courses are ideal for employers because they get to retain you as an employee and benefit from your learning from the moment you begin.

How can I get sponsored by my employer?