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Welcome to the Financial Reporting (IPSAS) module. Accounting for public sector organisations is a vital yet complex task. Like businesses, public organisations need to keep accurate records of their income and spending. This information is needed both for internal decision making and to demonstrate accountability to their stakeholders. This module is designed to give you sufficient knowledge of public sector financial reporting practices to use the information produced and to contribute to debates on the development of reporting policy. The module concentrates on financial reporting using International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Although these standards have now been adopted in some countries, many other countries are in the process of adoption or have implemented systems similar to IPSAS.

The module will use a range of examples and case studies to illustrate the theoretical principles and assist you in understanding and applying financial reporting in the international context. There are also many review questions and exercises incorporated into the module to facilitate your learning.

After completing this module, you should be able to discuss the international theoretical framework of financial reporting and evaluate the application of the IPSAS to public sector organisations in a variety of countries and contexts.

Learning outcomes

When you have completed your study of this module, you will be able to:

  • discuss the conceptual framework for public sector accounting and the development of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)
  • evaluate the adoption of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)
  • explain and contrast the differences in external reporting on a cash and accruals basis
  • discuss alternative approaches to budgeting in the public sector and the IPSAS requirements
  • discuss the accounting treatment for specific assets and liabilities in accordance with the IPSAS
  • discuss the process of consolidation for public sector financial reports and evaluate the usefulness of the reports produced
  • discuss the application of governance principles in public sector entities and compare national governance guidance.

Study materials

Study guide

You will receive a looseleaf binder containing eight units. The units are carefully structured to provide the main teaching, defining and exploring the main concepts and issues, locating these within current debate and introducing and linking the further assigned readings. The unit files are also available to download from the Virtual Learning Environment.

  • Aggestam-Pontoppidan C and I Andernack (2016) Interpretation and Application of IPSAS. Chichester UK, Wiley.
  • Bandy G (2015) Financial Management and Accounting in the Public Sector. 2nd Edition. Oxford UK. Routledge.

You are provided with a range of academic journal articles, extracts from supplementary text books and other reports or material. You will also consider a number of Case Studies. All these comprise the Module Reader which forms an essential part of this course.

Virtual learning environment

You will have access to the VLE, which is a web-accessed learning environment. Via the VLE, you can communicate with your assigned academic tutor, administrators and other students on the module using discussion forums. The VLE also provides access to the module Study Guide and assignments, as well as a selection of electronic journals available on the University of London Online Library.

Module overview

Unit 1 Context of Public Sector Financial Reporting (1)
  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Rationale for Financial Reporting Standards
  • 1.3 International Conceptual Framework
Unit 2 Context of Public Sector Financial Reporting (2)
  • 2.1 The IPSASB and IPSAS
  • 2.2 Cash- versus Accruals-Based Accounting
  • 2.3 Application in the Public Sector
  • 2.4 Cash-Basis IPSAS
  • 2.5 Accruals-Based Accounting and IPSAS
  • 2.6 Case Study
  • 2.7 Feedback on Case Study
Unit 3 Budgeting and Performance Reporting
  • 3.1 Budgeting in the Public Sector
  • 3.2 Budgets and Outturn Reporting (IPSAS 24)
  • 3.3 Performance Budgeting and Reporting
  • 3.4 Programme Budgeting
  • 3.5 Case Studies
  • 3.6 Feedback on Case Studies
Unit 4 Accounting for Public Assets under IPSAS
  • 4.1 Current Assets
  • 4.2 Non-Current Assets
  • 4.3 Case Study
  • 4.4 Feedback on Case Study
Unit 5 Accounting for Liabilities
  • 5.1 Current and Non-Current Liabilities
  • 5.2 Provisions and Contingent Liabilities
  • 5.3 The Special Case of Government Liabilities
  • 5.4 Case Study
  • 5.5 Feedback on Case Study
Unit 6 Leases and Public/Private Partnerships (PPP)
  • 6.1 Leases
  • 6.2 What are Public/Private Partnerships?
  • 6.3 Use of PPP
  • 6.4 Accounting for PPP
  • 6.5 Case Studies
  • 6.6 Feedback on Case Studies
Unit 7 Whole of Government Accounts (WGA)
  • 7.1 Consolidated Financial Statements
  • 7.2 The Consolidation Process
  • 7.3 Users and Uses of Consolidated Financial Statements
  • 7.4 Case Study
  • 7.5 Feedback on Case Study
Unit 8 Governance of Public Bodies
  • 8.1 Definitions
  • 8.2 International Framework: Good Governance in the Public Sector
  • 8.3 International Comparisons
  • 8.4 Governance in Public/Private Partnerships
  • 8.5 Summary
  • 8.6 The Examination

Tuition and assessment

Students are individually assigned an academic tutor for the duration of the module, with whom you can discuss academic queries at regular intervals during the study session.

You are required to complete two Assignments for this module, which will be marked by your tutor. Assignments are each worth 15% of your total mark. You will be expected to submit your first assignment by the Tuesday of Week 5, and the second assignment at the end of the module, on the Tuesday after Week 8. Assignments are submitted and feedback given online. In addition, queries and problems can be answered through the Virtual Learning Environment.

You will also sit a three-hour examination on a specified date in September/October, worth 70% of your total mark. An up-to-date timetable of examinations is published on the website in April each year.

Module sample

Click on the link below to download the module sample document in PDF.