AF7013 - Public Service Finance and Accounting

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What will I learn on this module?

You will develop knowledge and critical appreciation of the key components of accounting and finance relevant to public services and be able to apply these within the context of a successful public, private or not-for-profit organisation. Specifically, this module provides you with a foundation in relation to budgeting, structures of governance, financial compliance and regulation, and financial health. You will consider the role accounting plays in decision-making and in stewardship and accountability, with reference to accounting and reporting frameworks relevant to public sector and public services organisations, and taking into account different methods of public service delivery and joint working. This will be complemented by a consideration of public values, non-financial monitoring and reporting, and related ethical issues. The module is designed to enable you to apply your knowledge to public service management issues, both systematically and creatively, so that theory is converted into practice from a critical and informed perspective in order to enhance organisational effectiveness and sustainability.

How will I learn on this module?

The module is delivered through a combination of tutor-directed learning, group learning and independent learning. In the taught sessions, an interactive approach will draw upon the directed learning undertaken and participants’ own experiences. Throughout, the emphasis will be on participation, both individually and within small groups or teams.

Participants can expect a reflective practitioner approach to learning to be embedded in all sessions through undertaking activities which facilitate them to apply theory to ‘real-life’ situations, critically analysing and making recommendations for appropriate ways forward for the organisation / individual. The module aims to provide impact to your day-to-day professional role and sessions will be structured to ensure that you can take the learning from the module and apply it in your work place.

Directed learning will centre upon a range of activities including pre-reading, preparation for interactive activities and use of the discussion board on the e-learning platform.

Sessions will introduce you to the module, assessment and core topics before going through a range of subject-specific topics delivered over the period of the module. Independent learning will centre upon the students identifying and pursuing areas of interest in relation to the subject and by providing deeper / broader knowledge and understanding of the subject through a range of learning activities that will include extended reading, reflection and research.

Critical reflection on knowledge, experience and practice underpins the learning and teaching philosophy. You are particularly encouraged to bring examples from the work place into the classroom to share with each other and with the tutors.
You will participate in a learning set with your peers to facilitate a deeper discussion of the personal impact of the module contents on your individual professional practice and the application of learning into your own work organisation.

For those of you studying as a Degree Apprenticeship student the workplace will form a significant element of your learning. This will include weekly directed activities outlined in the module learning plan. These activities will enable reflection on learning from taught sessions and subsequent application through research into practice. Engagement with your learning coach and workplace manager/mentor will use these activities as a key element of discussion during coaching and review meetings.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

A range of approaches are adopted to support your learning in this module.

During the first week of this module, you will receive information about the module and teaching and learning plan, setting out
• Learning outcomes and overall module and programme aims
• Teaching, learning and assessment strategy
• Teaching schedule
• Directed reading references (text and journals) for the module

The module will commence by introducing the rationale and learning objectives of the module and how it contributes to your overall programme goals. Your module tutor, a subject specialist, will provide academic support including:
• Facilitating workshops
• Providing guidance in relation to assignments
• Providing a range of learning resources through the virtual learning environment
• Specialist subject advice, particularly in linking your work to academic research, concepts and emerging knowledge in the field
• Assessing and providing feedback on your work.
You will have opportunities to receive formal and informal formative feedback on your work at a number of points during the module, for example during workshop sessions.

For those of you studying on a Degree Apprenticeship you will also be supported by an Executive Coach who provides your consistent support throughout your Degree Apprenticeship. This Executive Coach will support with:
• Helping you to understand the requirements of this module and how it relates to your workplace context
• Helping you to understand how you can apply and evidence the knowledge, skills and behaviours covered in the module to your own practice in the workplace
• Visiting you at work and engaging with your manager and/or mentor to ensure alignment between your learning and opportunities for applying and demonstrating a positive impact in your work organisation.

Reading List
An electronic reading list will direct you to reading relevant to each topic. This includes direct access to repositories, journal articles and other academic sources. You will also be provided with access to a significant set academic research sources via the Northumbria University library portal.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
Demonstrate your knowledge and critical understanding of the key concepts, models and theories in relation to the topics and themes covered in the module

Intellectual / Professional Skills & Abilities:

Critically review internal / external reporting in relation to accountability and decisionmaking
Demonstrate understanding of approaches to resource management and strategic issues in developing appropriate financial management systems and policies
Present a critical evaluation of current or potential practice and implications for future practice, highlighting practice and ethical considerations and implications.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
ML04: Demonstrate consideration of issues of responsibility, transparency, and accountability in financial and non-financial reporting practices

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment: This will take place through group work, discussion and reflection, discussion board activity on the e-learning platform, case study activity, and theory / practice related discussions. Criteria will be provided to enable you to understand what is expected and how you will be assessed on your performance. You are required to demonstrate self-reflection and reflective practice where appropriate. Opportunities for formative feedback will be provided throughout the module, particularly in relation to workshop tasks. You should, however be aware that formative feedback can, and will, occur in any communication with an academic tutor.

Summative assessment:
The summative assessment for this module is in two parts: an ELP based open book exam worth 20% of the marks and a 3,000 word work-related assessment worth 80% of the marks. The exam will assess your knowledge and understanding of topics covered (ML01) while the assignment will address all module learning outcomes and require you to consider the subsequent implications on your professional practice.





Module abstract

This module takes a holistic look at public services accountingand financial management, focusing on using public money well for the public good, and differing conceptualisations of public value. Allied to this are issues of transparency, accountability, and public trust and confidence. The module provides an opportunity for critical review and analysis of the nexus between policy, theory and practice of accounting systems, and community. It considers the changing regulatory and reporting environments, internal and external stakeholders, scrutiny and assurance as well as alternative delivery vehicles for public services.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years Part Time

Department Newcastle Business School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2021

Fee Information

Module Information

All information on this course page is accurate at the time of viewing.

Courses starting in 2021 are offered as a mix of online and face to face teaching due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Students will be required to attend campus as far as restrictions allow. Contact time will increase as restrictions ease, or decrease, potentially to a full online offer, should restrictions increase.

Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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