Department of Political Science


Public Finance Budgeting

Course Code


Course Tutor

Dr Mike Seiferling (Department of Political Science)


One 3,000 word essay (70%) and presentation notes (30%)

Credit Value


About this course

Public finance management and public sector budgeting play a fundamental role in balancing the social and economic objectives of the state and acts as a significant determinant of macroeconomic performance. The importance of having strong public finance management systems along with comprehensive and transparent evaluation of fiscal risk was further highlighted by the 2008 financial crisis. A prerequisite component for achieving these goals is an efficient budgeting process. This course will examine both theoretical and empirical perspectives on public finance management and the budgeting process with a focus on actors and institutional constraints and a practical/contemporary evaluation of the public sector from a broader macroeconomic perspective. While the study of public finance management is extremely vast covering several disciplines and specialized areas, the purpose of this course is to provide students with a broad practical understanding of public finance management and budgeting. Specific topics covered will include public sector reform, budget theory, fiscal surveillance, time horizons, subnational public finance, public sector accounting and fiscal transparency.

Aims and Objectives

By the end of this course, students should:

1. Understand public budgeting systems and the role of actors and institutions in public finance management. This includes:

  •  the drafting, execution and surveillance of the budget process
  •  broader macroeconomic implications of public policy decisions
  •  adherence to international public sector accounting standards

2. Be familiar with theoretical frameworks and empirical approaches to the study of budgeting and public sector finance management.

3. Be able to critically evaluate the budget process, the quality and comprehensiveness of government financial statements and the associated fiscal risks and macroeconomic outcomes both across and within countries.

*This module is only available to EMPA and MPA students as well as, with instructor’s permission, MSc students with at least three years of relevant professional experience. Please contact the course tutor Dr Mike Seiferling (m.seiferling@ucl.ac.uk) before the end of September to discuss your suitability.