Finance - major: Banking (MSc)


Gain a prestigious MSc in Finance by distance learning

The MSc Finance (Banking) deepens your understanding of banks and financial markets, and how they relate to economic performance. This programme will help you to advance your career in finance and policy.

You can choose between four majors best suited to your objectives and skills:

The MSc Finance (Banking) is designed for postgraduates who wish to enter the banking sector and professionals seeking greater knowledge of financial management for competitive advantages.

In particular, you'll discover more about core banking activities (maturity/risk mismatch management), retirement and financial planning, commercial credit and factoring, and liquidity and risk management.

This programme will equip you with the necessary statistical (particularly econometric) skills and quantitative approaches to risk and derivatives.

Programme details

  You study Study period Cost (2016-17)
MSc 8 modules 2-5 years £10,080
Individual Professional Awards You can take up to three individual modules from this distance learning programme. Each module lasts eight weeks and you are registered for two years. The fee per individual module is £1,260.


The programme has been developed by academics at the Centre for Financial and Management Studies (CeFiMS), a postgraduate research and teaching department within SOAS, University of London. Staff at CeFiMS have international reputations and are involved in world leading research in their subjects.

Career progression

As a graduate of this programme you will be well prepared for senior research and other positions in banking, fund management, consultancy, central banks and international bodies.

Comprehensive study materials and support

You will be sent all the study materials that you need, including:

  • Dedicated core texts, textbooks and collections of readings.
  • Online and multimedia tools. Some courses provide video lectures on DVD.
  • Access to the Online Learning Environment (OLE), which provides instant access to course materials and academic, administrative and technical support.
  • A study calendar for each course. This sets out a schedule for coursework and assignment deadlines to help you organize your time.
  • A study skills textbook to help you manage your studies.

A Welcome Pack is available online, which provides you with resources and tips on effective distance learning.

Your time commitment

This will depend partly on choices you make, but most students take three years to complete an MSc.

The study calendar consists of five sessions per year. Each session is devoted to a specific module and lasts eight weeks (with the exception of the fifth session which runs for 10 weeks).

During each session you will need to allocate between 15-20 hours per week to complete the programme.

Summary of key dates

Finance - major: Banking
CeFiMS event Study session 1 Study session 2 Study session 3 Study session 4 Study session 5
Application deadline 19 September 2016 05 December 2016 06 February 2017 10 April 2017 05 June 2017
Enrolment deadline 03 October 2016 19 December 2016 20 February 2017 24 April 2017 19 June 2017
Start date 14 November 2016 30 January 2017 03 April 2017 05 June 2017 31 July 2017
Examinations September/October 2017



Structure and syllabus

MSc: 8 modules (4 core modules and 4 elective modules)

Choose 4 core modules from the list below plus 4 further modules from the list of electives modules.

Core modules

Banking and capital markets

This course examines the underlying principles and characteristics of banking and financial markets that are the foundation for understanding both their normal role in economies and the headline events. It concentrates on the theoretical and empirical scientific knowledge produced by modern research on banking. Since such knowledge is never fully established or ‘proven’, it enables the student to examine opposing points of view and to discuss the published studies.

Unit 1: Bank-Based vs Market-Based Financial Systems
Unit 2: Why do Banks Exist?
Unit 3: Why Banks Exist: Explanations Based on their Lending
Unit 4: Banks vs Capital Markets
Unit 5: Credit Rationing and Overlending
Unit 6: Bank Runs and Regulatory Responses
Unit 7: Financial Crisis
Unit 8: Portfolio Analysis

Corporate finance

This course enables you to relate principles and practice to the financing decisions of enterprises in modern economies. The course analyses the decisions firms make about financing their investments in productive capital.

Unit 1: Perspectives on Corporate Finance
Unit 2: Net Present Value and Capital Budgeting Decisions
Unit 3: Risk, Capital Market Equilibrium and Capital Budgeting Decisions
Unit 4: Efficiency of Capital Markets and Implications for Corporate Financing Decisions
Unit 5: Dividend Policy
Unit 6: Capital Structure I
Unit 7: Capital Structure II: Information Asymmetries and Agency Costs
Unit 8: Mergers

Corporate and investment banking

The banking system has historically played a major role in backing the business activities with respect to their financial needs either in banco-centric systems (where banks are supposed to be the natural mediators between deposits – lending side and loans – borrowing side) or in market-based financial systems (where banks ease the access of the economic players to financial markets). From a corporate point of view fulfilling financial needs is extremely important to achieve competitive levels of profitability and after the Global Financial Crises it has become a crucial skill to survive. Shrinking markets size, increasing competition of government bonds on the asset side and tightening regulation on the banking sector capitalization make tougher both the competition for external financial resources and the generation of internal ones.

The module will focus on three issues:

  • Frame companies’ financial needs as related to its time horizon, production conditions, the competition for financial resources, and to the most advanced techniques to manage commercial credits and maximizes their profitability.
  • Technical solutions to achieve different financial goals
  • Dynamic money and financial management with particular attention to the different types of risks and time horizons.

From an investment banking point of view the module will provide the attendee with the skills needed to understand and make use of new investment vehicles and philosophies such as venture capital and private equity in order to have a full range of expertise to spend in the job and academic market.

Portfolio and fund management

Increasing polarization of the income distribution and a prolonged period of low (and decreasing) interest rates are main characteristics of the current financial framework. Both these trends represent a threat and an opportunity for the banking sector. The income polarization offers the possibility to increase the market share of managed high-net-worth individuals (HNWI), whereas low and decreasing interests rates call for higher efficiency in financial and operational management. The banking sector is, then, expected to face a tougher competitive environment and develop new business models and investment strategies.

The course will provide crucial expertise allowing them to successfully compete and make an impact in any financial intermediary with respect to:

  • portfolio and investment management: in terms of investment processes, strategic and tactic asset allocation;
  • benchmarking: performances evaluation procedures and benchmarking techniques;
  • relationship management: how to manage expectations and attitudes with respect to financial planning.

The module is aimed at actual and perspective banking sector operators focusing on both technical skills in portfolio and investment management and personal skills in managing the relationship with the investor which is crucial to the private bankers dealing with HNWIs.

Retail banking and household finance

Households undertake various decisions concerning their economic activities such as how much to work, how much to consume, to invest in education, whether or not to buy or sell a house and when. To achieve their goals households rely on financial markets the access to which has been and is increasingly mediated by the banking system. As the major intermediary between the economic agent and the financial resources the banking system plays an important role in supporting the correct framing of the decision making process as well as its financial management.

Given its flexibility the module is suitable for households and professionals sort out their own financial situation as well as for professional willing to gain the expertise typically needed to work in the retail banking sector. This module will provide the theoretical underpinnings to support households' choice problem and its financial consequences developing three main issues:

  • decision making mechanism: definition of needs, attitude with respect to risk and return, behavioural stylized facts.
  • investment: portfolio choices from a static and dynamic (i.e. life-cycle) perspective.
  • money management: raising debt, default, (reverse) mortgages, cash management and insurance.

Elective modules

Advanced topics in valuation

In this module you will study advanced valuation techniques, including complex spreadsheet models, taxation, operating leases, inflation and foreign currency. Furthermore, it examines the valuation method in special situations, including acquisitions, emerging markets and valuing financial corporations.

Unit 1: Developing and Using a Spreadsheet Valuation Model
Unit 2: Corporate Portfolio Strategy
Unit 3: Taxation
Unit 4: Non-operating Expenses and Off-Balance-Sheet Items
Unit 5: Inflation and Foreign Currency
Unit 6: Valuation in Emerging Markets
Unit 7: Valuing Flexibility
Unit 8: Valuing Banks

Bank financial management

This course concentrates on the principles of bank management of assets and liabilities. You will learn about the principles of bank balance sheet management and money market operations as well as liquidity ratios and capital adequacy ratios. You will also study issues of bank supervision and regulation.

Unit 1: Banking Innovations and Risk
Unit 2: Bank Accounts: A Useful Tool if Handled with Care
Unit 3: Bank Valuation
Unit 4: Bank Risk Management - Liquidity Management
Unit 5: Bank Risk Management - Interest Rate Risk Management
Unit 6: Cost of Funds and the Funding of Operations
Unit 7: Bank Risk Management - Credit Risk
Unit 8: Capital Management

Bank regulation and resolution of banking crises

The recent banking crisis has motivated heightened discussion of the merits of bank regulations used to minimise the risk of bank distress and intervention tools to mitigate its effects. In this course you will study technical aspects of bank regulation, supervision and intervention to resolve crises.

Unit 1: Principles of Bank Regulation
Unit 2: Banking Supervision & Regulation
Unit 3: The Prudential Supervision of Banks
Unit 4: Banking Crises: Weak Banks and Lender of Last Resort Support
Unit 5: Restructuring Failed Banks and Protecting Depositors
Unit 6: The Institutional Structure of Financial Regulation
Unit 7: Regulation, Supervision and Financial Stability
Unit 8: Issues in International Supervision and Regulation

Banking strategy

The module examines bank strategy in the global economy. This module deals with the strategic (as opposed to operational) side of international banking, such issues as how banks are funded, how they acquire loan books, how they enter new markets and how they deal with international regulatory requirements.

Corporate governance

This course is specially designed for the postgraduate study of such areas as management, finance, financial law, corporate law, economics and related subjects, and has been designed to increase the depth of your understanding of corporate government issues. The course places a strong emphasis on the relationship between theoretical concepts and real world issues, making a real contribution to your in-depth understanding of the relevant corporate governance issues and future career development.

Unit 1: Introduction to Corporate Governance
Unit 2: Theory of the Firm
Unit 3: Corporate Governance and the Role of Law
Unit 4: Corporate Governance around the World
Unit 5: Board Composition and Control
Unit 6: CEO Compensation
Unit 7: International Governance
Unit 8: Overview of Corporate Governance Codes


The expansion of financial markets since 1973 has been founded on the growth of derivatives, both over the counter derivative contracts and exchange traded contracts. It was made possible by the development of models for valuing derivatives based upon the mathematics of stochastic calculus. In this course you learn the application of those principles to the valuation of derivatives.

Unit 1: Derivatives Contracts
Unit 2: Properties of Stock Options
Unit 3: The Behaviour of the Stock Price and the Black-Scholes model
Unit 4: Greek Letters and Trading Strategies
Unit 5: Interest Rate Models
Unit 6: Credit Derivatives and Credit Risk
Unit 7: Some Exotic Options
Unit 8: Further Numerical Procedures

Dissertation C354 (prerequisite C353 Research methods)

The dissertation is a supervised piece of research on a topic that we will agree with you. The length will be 10,000 words. Before we can consider a proposal to submit a dissertation we will need to review your academic performance so far. Completing the Research Methods module is a prerequisite for undertaking the dissertation.

The dissertation does not run over a single session. Instead students enrol on the dissertation by the enrolment deadline for Session 2 (24 November 2014) and have until 1 October 2015 to complete their research, write up their results and submit their final thesis.

Econometric analysis and applications

'Econometric Analysis and Applications' is the second, more advanced, econometrics course offered to students wanting to broaden their understanding of the application of quantitative methods to economic inquiry. We recommend that you study the 'Econometric Principles and Data Analysis' course prior to this. The course assumes that you have studied the classical linear regression model at an introductory level and that you are familiar with the assumptions that underlie that model. You will be aware that there are many cases in which these assumptions are not satisfied, and know how such problems as heteroscedastic disturbances and autocorrelated errors can be detected, and what can be done about them. It is assumed, too, that you have a basic working knowledge of the econometric software, Eviews, introduced previously in 'Econometric Principles and Data Analysis', although basic instructions for using the program are provided here too.

Unit 1: Dummy Variables
Unit 2: Dynamic Models - Lags and Expectations
Unit 3: Simultaneous Equation Models
Unit 4: The Identification Problem
Unit 5: Simultaneous Equation Models - Estimation
Unit 6: Univariate Time Series - Stationarity and Non-stationarity
Unit 7: Multivariate Time Series Analysis
Unit 8: Forecasting

Econometric principles and data analysis

This course provides an introduction to econometric methods, examining how we can start from relationships suggested by economic theory, formulate those relationships in mathematical and statistical models, estimate those models using sample data, and make statements based on the parameters of the estimated models. You are provided with Eviews econometric software as part of the course. We recommend that you take this course before progressing onto the more advanced sequel 'Econometric Analysis and Applications'.

Unit 1: Introduction to Econometrics and Regression Analysis
Unit 2: The Classical Linear Regression Model
Unit 3: Hypothesis Testing
Unit 4: The Multiple Regression Model - Estimation, Hypothesis Tests and Multicollinearity
Unit 5: Heteroscedasticity
Unit 6: Autocorrelation
Unit 7: Nonnormal Disturbances
Unit 8: Model Selection and Course Summary

Finance in the global market

The main objective of the course is to enable you to understand some of the main characteristics of that globalised financial world. Because of the centrality of foreign exchange markets to international finance, we regard understanding foreign exchange markets as the core of that objective.

Unit 1: The International context of finance
Unit 2: The markets for foreign exchange
Unit 3: Exchange rates and prices
Unit 4: Exchange rates and interest rates
Unit 5: Managing foreign exchange exposure
Unit 6: International corporate financing and project finance
Unit 7: Capital structure and cost of capital in international financing
Unit 8: Corporate finance and currency crises

Financial econometrics

We define financial econometrics as 'the application of statistical techniques to problems in finance'. Although econometrics is often associated with analysing economics problems such as economic growth, consumption and investment, the applications in the areas of finance have grown rapidly in the last few decades.

Financial markets and others generate vast amounts of data on asset returns, their volatility, and other financial variables in long and high-frequency time series. The ability to analyse market behaviour requires knowledge of the properties of time series and appropriate estimation methods. Since the early 1980s techniques for analysing time series, which exhibit auto-regression, have yielded important studies of financial markets, increasing our knowledge of financial variables’ volatility. The objective of the course is to extend your knowledge and equip you with methods and techniques that allow you to analyse these finance-related issues.

Before starting this course, we recommend that you first complete 'Econometric principles and data analysis' [C330] and 'Econometric analysis and applications' [C332].

Unit 1: Statistical Properties of Financial Returns
Unit 2: Matrix Algebra, Regression and Applications in Finance
Unit 3: Maximum Likelihood Estimation
Unit 4: Univariate Time Series and Applications to Finance
Unit 5: Modelling Volatility – Conditional Heteroscedastic Models
Unit 6: Modelling Volatility and Correlations – Multivariate GARCH Models
Unit 7: Vector Autoregressive Models
Unit 8: Limited Dependent Variable Models

International finance

This course is concerned with the institutions of international finance and the key policy problems that have arisen in recent decades. It presents a policy-oriented perspective, similar to that an economist would use when advising governments on how to work within the modern international financial system and how to overcome its problems.

Unit 1: Evolution of the International Financial System
Unit 2: Foreign Exchange Markets
Unit 3: The Balance of Payments
Unit 4: Balance of Payments Policies - The Mundell-Fleming Approach
Unit 5: Balance of Payments Policies – The Monetary Approach
Unit 6: Fixed and Flexible Exchange Rate Systems
Unit 7: Currency Blocs, Financial Integration and International Co-ordination
Unit 8: Foreign Exchange Problems and Policies of Developing Countries

Introduction to valuation

This course introduces concepts and tools for valuing companies in a consistent manner. You should find it useful as a starting point and guide for analysing the performance of companies and industries of your interest.

The course should be useful for practitioners working in various market environments - from developed countries to emerging markets, from services to manufacturing industries, and from the viewpoints of managers to the desks of stock analysts.

The main part of this course takes a deterministic approach to valuing companies, in which the valuation assumes away most of the errors, randomness, and mis-measurement in the company’s financial information. While the course introduces several sensitivity and scenario analyses, you are reminded, where applicable, of the shortcomings of the basic models and the key limitations of the approaches taken. This course focuses on the baseline analysis so that you have an understanding of the tools and concepts necessary for pursuing further more advanced materials.

Macroeconomic policy and financial markets

This module has been specially designed to increase the depth of your understanding of macroeconomics by focusing on the relation financial markets have to macroeconomics. We place the subject in a real-world context, aiming to show how theoretical and empirical knowledge of macroeconomics and financial markets provides ways to analyse the salient problems faced by modern macroeconomic policy makers.

Unit 1: Macroeconomics and the World of Finance
Unit 2: Saving and Finance
Unit 3: Investment and Financial Markets
Unit 4: Monetary Policy and the Central Bank
Unit 5: Fiscal Policy and Government Finances
Unit 6: Expectations, Inflation, and Interest Rates
Unit 7: Foreign Exchange Markets and Foreign Trade
Unit 8: International Capital Flows and Financial Markets

Research methods C353

This module concentrates on helping you develop a rigorous understanding of the key principles and practice of research that are needed to get a research project up and running.

Unit 1: The Nature of Research
Unit 2: Planning and Designing Research
Unit 3: Reviewing the Literature and Making Methodological Choices
Unit 4: Data
Unit 5A: Interviews, Focus Groups and Surveys
Unit 5B: Introduction to Data Analysis I
Unit 6A: Fieldwork and Observation
Unit 6B: Introduction to Data Analysis II
Unit 7: Validity and Reliability
Unit 8: Writing and Presenting Research

Risk management: principles and applications

This course examines the techniques and the foundation of risk management in corporations. It covers the use of derivatives, portfolio allocation, the value of risk, and the management of credit risk and operations risk. The course includes cases and applications.

Unit 1: Introduction to Risk Management
Unit 2: Portfolio Analysis
Unit 3: Management of Bond Portfolios
Unit 4: Futures Markets
Unit 5: Options Markets
Unit 6: Risk Management with Options
Unit 7: Value at Risk
Unit 8: Credit Risk

Study materials

How you study

Without leaving your job or home you can study, write and submit assignments, receive expert guidance from your CeFiMS tutor and advice from the student support team. In addition to printed study materials, the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) allows you to work with course materials, send queries to tutors and submit assignments via the Internet.

When you take a CeFiMS distance learning course you will be sent everything you need to complete your studies. A typical set of course learning materials would include:

  • Core text. All courses centre on a specially written core text analogous to a series of lectures.
  • Textbooks and collections of readings. Most courses also include one or more textbooks and a collection of recent or classic articles of importance to the subject.
  • Study calendar. Students are provided with a study calendar for each course which sets out the schedule for your coursework and assignment deadlines.

Virtual Learning Environment
Created by CefiMS to provide additional resources and support, the VLE allows you to:

  • access study materials that complement printed texts
  • submit assignments
  • communicate with tutors
  • contact support staff regarding administrative queries
  • access online resources provided by the Univeristy of London Library including full-text journal databases of JSTOR and EBSCO.

Note: Students who are eligible to use the VLE are automatically contacted by CeFiMS staff and given information about how to access the system for their course.



Fees may be paid in one of two ways:

Either, pay the total fee on registration by making a single payment for all the module fees;
Or, if you prefer to spread out your payments, pay the fee for each module you want to take in the first year, and then in subsequent years pay the fee for each new module you take.
Fees are subject to annual review. The 2016-17 fees take effect from 1 August 2016.
Fee per module£ 1,260
TOTAL MSc£ 10,080
ConvertGBP x 1

Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for
  • the fee charged to your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary
  • customs duties/taxes where these are payable on educational materials, including educational USB stick/CDs. We recommend that you check the status of imported educational materials with your country’s customs authorities.


If you are a UK or EU national and you have lived in England for three years, you could be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan.


The University reserves the right to amend previously announced fees, if necessary. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.


With the exception of the Dissertation, all modules are assessed by one three-hour unseen written examination and two assignments of 2,500 words each. The Dissertation (available as an option for MSc programmes only) is assessed by the submission of a written dissertation of not more than 10,000 words, excluding the bibliography and appendices.

The grade awarded on each individual module will be based on the mark obtained in the written examination and on the combined mark for the assignments. The examination mark and the combined mark of the assignments will be weighted on the scale 70:30. If you fail a written examination at the first sitting, you will be allowed one further attempt after which your registration will cease.

Exams, both overseas and in the UK, take place once a year in September/October. They are normally held in a student's country of residence, using the existing system of overseas examinations authorities which the University of London operates for all its External students. Exams for students in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland are normally held in London.


Academic Requirements


In order to be considered for registration applicants must have:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in finance, economics or other appropriate discipline, from a UK university or other institution acceptable to the University, or an equivalent international qualification  (qualifications in other subjects will be assessed on their merits)


  • Previous education and experience without a UK Bachelor’s degree, or international equivalent, that satisfies the University as a qualification on the same level as a UK Bachelor’s degree approved under the point above for this purpose and has included suitable preliminary training.

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources.

To get the most from your studies, your computer should have at least the following minimum specification: 

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • a word processor that reads Microsoft Word format (.doc)
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader.

For some modules you will require a CD drive and DVD player. If you are studying the econometrics modules the EViews software requires Windows XP (or later) or Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (or later).

* Full mobile access is not available for all programmes.

Language Requirements

For all of our modules you are required to have a high level of English language ability in reading and writing and in study skills.

If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability as tested by the British Council or another registered body. This is equivalent to a score of 7.0 overall in the IELTS test, or 7.0 in both reading and writing.

Academic leaders

Academic leadership - CeFiMS

Lead College

The Centre for Financial & Management Studies (CeFiMS) is a postgraduate research and teaching department at SOAS, University of London.

Our programmes give students a strong academic foundation to their professional skills. Other students study for a degree with us because of their love of learning and their desire to widen their understanding of the world. The programmes are available in a range of flexible options, so you can choose the speed, depth and even the location of your postgraduate study.

As one of our graduates, you will become part of an exclusive network of alumni based in leading private and public sector organisations throughout the world.

Academic staff

In total, more than eighty academics act as online tutors. In addition, there is a dedicated team of student advisers. For more information, please visit the CeFiMS website [external link].