This course builds on the topics covered in PHCM9441 Healthcare Economics and Financial Management. This course will cover health policy related issues from an economic perspective, including topics such as national health reform, activity-based funding, workings of health insurance markets and how demand for health care is managed given limited supply. In addition, more advanced topics in financial management such as capital budgeting and costing of health services will be introduced.

Mode of study

Face-to-face classes on-campus for Internal students & fully online for Distance External students

Key contact

A/Prof Anurag Sharma
Course Convenor
+61 (2) 9065 9490

Who should do this course?

This course is an elective course of the Master of Public Health, Master of Global Health and the Master of Health Leadership and Management comprising 6 units of credit towards the total required for completion of each study program.

Course outcomes

The main aim of this course is to enable you to develop and enhance your understanding of economic principles, concepts and theoretical frameworks that form the basis of critical assessment of the economic viability of healthcare programs and initiatives. The course aims to prepare you to develop a deeper understanding of how health services can be costed and how this is essential for the implementation of activity-based funding of health services. In particular, it aims to extend your knowledge and understanding of finance and economics, and how these enhanced skills can be applied in the healthcare system to support healthcare and health service related decisions.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • apply economic concepts and principles to current issues facing the Australian healthcare system and health in general
  • develop a deeper understanding of both where and how money is allocated in the Australian healthcare system
  • understand how economics can contribute to the decision-making processes that affect the delivery of health services in Australia
  • be able to explain variances between budgeted and actual figures
  • determine the appropriate ranking of projects in a capital budgeting decision
  • complete a simple product costing exercise
  • understand the importance of the costing of health services in an activity based funding model
  • compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of historical funding and activity-based funding of healthcare services.

Learning & teaching

The financial management component of this course takes a problem-solving approach which aims to test your knowledge by applying financial concepts to simplified real world situations. Therefore, you will need to not only grasp the concept of capital budgeting but you will also be required to work through a capital budgeting problem and comment on the outcome of your analysis. With the health economics component of the course the emphasis is on how economic concepts and theories can be applied to real world situations currently facing health care in Australia and other countries. While the economics and finance components are separated for teaching purposes in this course – in reality both these disciplines are combined when discussing activity-based funding.

This course assumes basic prior knowledge of accounting, financial management or economics as discussed in the Introductory course PHCM9441. At all times the aim is to introduce you to concepts and skills that will be of value in your everyday work.


Assessment Task 1 – 10 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Weighting: 5%

Assessment Task 2 – Short Answer Questions + Essay Type Question
Weighting: 40%

Assessment Task 3 – Short Question Questions + Essay Type Question
Weighting: 45%

Assessment Task 4 – Online Discussions
Weighting: 10%

Readings & resources 

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  • course notes and readings
  • lecture slides and recordings
  • supplementary resources such as videos and podcasts.

Recommended textbooks

Health Economics

Folland S, Goodman A & Stano M, The Economics of Health and Health Care, 8th edition, International edition, New York: Routledge, 2018, ISBN: 9781351595216 (earlier editions are also fine). Ebook of 7th edition available from UNSW Library:

Financial Management

J Birt, K Chalmers, D Beal, A Brooks, S Byrne and J Oliver, Accounting: Business Reporting for Decision Making, 6th edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2016, ISBN: 9780730335603. Ebook available from UNSW Library: