Managing Public Finances

Subject PADM90003 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

July, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start 22-Jul-2016
Teaching Period 27-Jul-2016 to 09-Sep-2016
Assessment Period End 06-Oct-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 22-Jul-2016
Census Date 12-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 09-Sep-2016

This is an intensive subject with a pre-teaching period.

During the pre-teaching period, students will be able to access the LMS and the readings provided in order to prepare for the first assessment task.
Note: this is due at the first seminar of the teaching period. Students will be able to contact the subject coordinator for support during the pre-teaching period.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 hours: 4 hours per week in weeks 2 to 7 of Semester 2.
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours


Admission to the Master of Public Administration and successful completion of the subject The World of Public Administration

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Previous study in public policy, political science, management, law, business, economics, international relations, non-profit management or cognate area.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Dr Stephen Peterson


Subject Overview:

Managing Public Finances is one of the core subjects in the Melbourne Master of Public Administration. The Melbourne MPA is an interdisciplinary, globally-focused degree program for managers that work within or with government. This subject provides the theoretical and analytical tools for understanding the nature and practice of finance in relation to public administration and management, drawing on the disciplines of economics and finance. Key ideas that will be explored in this subject include budgets, performance, reporting and decision–making and how these relate to broader notions of governing in complex institutional and policy environments.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • Acquire an understanding of key concepts in public finance;
  • Understand the importance of finance to the public manager in both a strategic and operational sense;
  • Understand the complexities of developing and executing budgets, evaluating performance, and decision-making;
  • Appreciate the local, national and global aspects of these issues.

1. An issues paper of 500 words (10%) where students identify and address an issue relevant to their work experience or interests that relates to a key public finance theme. Due at first seminar for the subject.

2. Individual paper of 2000 words (40%) analyzing and comparing the fiscal sustainability of three countries using the Statement of Government Operations of an IMF Article 4. Group presentation in week 3 of the subject. Individual paper due after the presentation.

3. Case paper of 2500 words (50%) where students apply key concepts from the course. Due in the week after the intensive teaching period has concluded.

Hurdle requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 80% of classes in order to pass this subject and regular class participation is expected.

Prescribed Texts:

Andrew Graham, Canadian Public-Sector Financial Management Second Edition, Queens Policy Series, 2014 ISBN 978-1-55339-426-6 (PBK)

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this subject students should have:

  • A comprehensive understanding and appreciation of key concepts in public finance;
  • A sound understanding of the interconnectedness between finance and politics, economics and law, as they apply to public management processes and decisions and shape the public manager’s environment;
  • A high-level ability to combine the theory and practice of public finance in a meaningful way in order to address managerial challenges and reflect critically on one’s own professional practice;
  • A high-level ability to combine professional skills such as analysis and decision-making with discipline-based expertise and to apply this complex synthesis to the practice of public finance;
  • Well-developed interpersonal and communication skills necessary to a range of professional activities relating to public finance.
Related Course(s): Master of Public Administration
Master of Public Administration (Enhanced)
Specialist Certificate in Public Administration

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