Course Information
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  Course Information
Introduction and Background

The Course is meant to make students acquainted with the main issues of the new approaches to and techniques of the governance of public finance. The traditional model of public finance was based on established structures of government, and the sole responsibility for an efficient management of public finances was political. This means any mismanagement of public finances (e. g. a significant accumulation of budget deficit and government debt) was potentially sanctioned in the next parliamentary elections by the electorate which may have entrusted a new government with the management of public finances. This system proved, however, obviously inadequate under the conditions of the crisis of the world economy from 2007 on. It turned out that the normal political cycle doesn't allow for fast reactions by incumbent governments to the deterioration of public finances, and independent (or at least impartial, politically not influenced) monitoring of the budgeting process and especially public spending is of vital importance.

An increasing number of countries have opted for setting up new, independent institutions to increase fiscal responsibility in order to avoid further debt crises in the world. It may be useful to students to acquire in-depth knowledge of how such institutions are set up, operated and, last but not least, how their co-operation with the respective governments (mainly the ministries of finance), national banks, state auditing organisations and parliaments is organised. It is important to show how the independent bodies of public finance governance help increase the credibility of fiscal policy.

Registration Status: OPEN
Deadline for Enrollment: when slots are full
Course Dates: September 11 to October 14, 2011
Estimated learning time: Minimum of 35 hours
Format: Online/Internet-based (asynchronous)
Language of Instruction: English
Fees: US $ 400/-
Helpline: UNITAR Geneva (Course Administration and Technical Questions)
  Course Objectives  

At the end of the course, the participants should be able to:

  • State and discuss the significance and benefits of politically independent decision-making in the governance of public finance;
  • Explain the relationship between fiscal irresponsibility and inadequate monitoring of public finances;
  • Distinguish factors that cause the emergence of debt crisis;
  • Analyze the institutional structures of fiscal policy and governance;
  • Evaluate the functions and impact of independent monitoring institutions; and
  • Assess the role of independent fiscal institutions in avoiding debt crises.
  Target Audience  

Potential beneficiary audience/institutions include government officials; employees of state auditing institutions; central bankers; financial analysts; academics; university/college students.

  Course Structure / Outline  

Course Structure

This online course will involve a mix of self-study and online interaction culminating in a practical understanding of governance of public funds through online group work. Throughout the duration of the course, participants will go through theoretical and conceptual material prepared by UNITAR and will have an opportunity to relate it to real-life situations through online discussions and peer-to-peer interaction. There will be a quiz/assignment at the end of the program.

Course Outline

This course will comprise of the following modules, each covering a one-week period.

Module 1: The Issue of Independence in Public Policy and Governance
This module would expose the growing importance of politically independent decision-making in key fields of public policy. Central bank independence is used as an example to explain the benefits of institutional independence in certain fields of public policy. Such benefits include higher credibility and longer-term calculability, therefore more transparency of public policy lines and decisions.

Module 2: Fiscal Crises and the Credibility Problem
This module would focus on the role of politically motivated fiscal policies in the emergence of fiscal crises. It would also elaborate on how a higher degree of credibility of fiscal policy can improve the conditions of external financing for a country struggling with a high level of foreign and public debt.

Module 3: Main Institutions and Structures of Fiscal Policy Governance
This module would analyze the legal and institutional structures of fiscal policy and fiscal governance, with a strong emphasis on independent monitoring institutions.

Module 4: The Role of Independent Fiscal Institutions in Avoiding Debt Crises
This module would discuss the strategic importance of independent fiscal governance and monitoring in creating sustainable models of public finance including external financing for the economy.

  Other Course-related Information
This course will be conducted over the internet using UNITAR's e-Learning infrastructure for a four week period. Participants will require a minimum of 60 minutes of study each day. The course pedagogy will allow for three levels of interaction. At the first level, the participants will interact with the training content and reading material provided. At the second level, the participants will interact with each other through the online discussion board facility, sharing experiences, opinions and views, thereby giving the learning a contextual framework. At the third level, the participants will interact with a seasoned expert on corporate governance who will act as the course mentor. The mentor will not only moderate the course for its entire duration, but also provide feedback and discussion wrap-ups as well as respond to participant queries.

UNITAR online courses create a progressive learning environment in which participants have the flexibility to structure their own learning process and interact with peers and experts through the discussion board facility. UNITAR encourages the participants to network with each other both professionally and amicably, to establish contacts which further promote the dynamic nature of the learning experience.

The online course will be conducted in the English language.


This course is designed as an online course in which participants will be primarily responsible for their own learning. Each lesson will consist of the following components:

1) Basic Reading Materials (Compulsory Reading Materials): these materials are intended to educate the participants about the basic concepts and principles applicable to the subject-matter of the lesson. It will include, where appropriate, sample materials. These materials will constitute the required reading materials for the lesson

2) Advanced Reading Materials (Optional Reading Materials): this will consist of optional reading materials for participants who wish to learn more about the topic than what is covered in the lesson.

3) External Links: This will refer the interested participants to additional books, articles, documents, and websites that deal with the issues raised in the lesson.

4) Glossary: A glossary of terms tailored to the online course will be provided to the participants and act as a learning support during the entire course.

5) Quizzes: At the end of each lesson there will be a set of quizzes for participants to answer. These quizzes are designed to test the participant's understanding of the lesson. Participants are required to pass each quiz and obtain at least 80% or more passing grade in order to be eligible for a certificate. All quizzes will need to be taken online.

6) Community Discussion Board: There will be a community discussion board available on which participants can post questions or comments that can be seen by the instructor and the other participants. This discussion board will be moderated by the course director and UNITAR. Structured discussion strings will be posted on a weekly basis.

All successful participants will be eligible to a certificate after completion of this online course.


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