Finance - major: Economic Policy (MSc)

Overview

Gain a prestigious MSc in Finance by distance learning

The MSc Finance enables you to deepen your understanding of financial markets, banks, and their relation to economic performance. It provides a sound platform for advancing your career in finance and policy. Because finance is so wide ranging, the degree enables you to choose between four majors:

The four alternative pathways of the MSc Finance programme enable you to select a study path best suited to your objectives and skills.

The MSc Finance (major: Economic Policy) is designed principally for postgraduates working on economic policy in government, central banks, other public organisations, international institutions and consultancy.

Programme aims

This programme will enable you to deepen your understanding of the principles, applications, and context underlying economic policy with a focus on policy's financial aspects.

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.

Prestige

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 researching their subjects at the very limits of current knowledge.

Career progression

As a graduate of this programme you will be well prepared for senior positions in governments, central banks, other public organisations, international institutions and consultancy.

Comprehensive study materials and support

You will be given all of the learning materials that you need to complete each course. These will typically include:

  • The Study Guide, a core text specially written for the course. This takes the form of a looseleaf binder containing eight ‘course units’. The units are carefully structured to provide the main teaching of the course, defining and exploring the main concepts and issues, locating these within current debate and introducing and linking the further assigned readings.
  • Textbooks and collections of key journal articles and book extracts.
  • Online and multimedia tools. You will have access to the Online Learning Environment (OLE), which is a web-accessed learning environment. Via the OLE, you can communicate with your assigned academic tutor, administrators and other students on the course using discussion forums. The OLE also provides access to the course Study Guide and assignments, as well as a selection of electronic journals available on the University of London Online Library. In addition, some course material will also include video lectures on DVD, CDs of case studies, and econometric software.

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 first 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: Economic Policy
CeFiMS event Study session 1 Study session 2 Study session 3 Study session 4 Study session 5
Application deadline 11 September 2017 27 November 2017 29 January 2018 02 April 2018 28 May 2018
Enrolment deadline 25 September 2017 11 December 2017 12 February 2018 16 April 2018 11 June 2018
Start date 06 November 2017 22 January 2018 26 March 2018 28 May 2018 23 July 2018
Examinations September/October 2018

 

Structure

Structure and syllabus

MSc: 8 modules (5 core modules and 3 core or elective modules)

Choose 5 core modules from the list below plus 3 further modules from the list of electives or the list of core 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

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

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

Microeconomic principles and policy

This course looks at the principles economists use to model the behaviour of individual agents (firms, consumers, and policy authorities) and the ways in which they interact in a market economy. This course examines and builds upon core theories of microeconomics, and is structured around: market equilibrium; consumer demand; theory of the firm; pricing and output in competitive and monopolistic markets. The course explores the economic principles that underpin the influence of market structures - whether markets are competitive or monopolistic - on consumers and firms, how these principles can be applied to economic problems, and their implications for policy.

Unit 1 Introduction to Microeconomics
Unit 2 Theories of Consumer Behaviour
Unit 3 Theory of Production and Costs
Unit 4 Markets and Competition
Unit 5 Oligopoly and Other Noncompetitive Markets
Unit 6 Markets for Resources – Labour, Capital and Other Inputs
Unit 7 Industry Structures, Pricing Behaviour and Globalisation
Unit 8 Externalities, Public Goods and Environmental Economics

Public financial management: revenue

This course addresses the theory and practice of public finance with special reference to how governments raise revenues. It is concerned with taxation, borrowing and aid. There are economic principles that bear on the issues of financing public expenditure and these are covered in the course. If you have not studied economics before there is an Appendix that covers the relevant microeconomics concepts that underlie taxation theory. At the same time the course recognises that decisions on taxation, borrowing and aid are not taken solely with reference to economics but also to politics.

Unit 1: Tax Issues in Context
Unit 2: Taxation Incidence and Optimal Taxation
Unit 3: Policy Objectives and Taxation
Unit 4: Tax Policy Issues in Developing and Transition Countries (I)
Unit 5: Tax Policy Issues in Developing and Transition Countries (II)
Unit 6: Local Revenues in Developing and Transition Countries
Unit 7: Deficits and Debts
Unit 8: Foreign Aid and Debt Relief

The International Monetary Fund and economic policy

The module examines the changing roles of the IMF, the nature of economic policies it encourages countries to pursue, and some of the effects these policies have on the economic environment of business, on the financial sector, and on social conditions. The module gives a simple introduction to the basic IMF economic policy framework, 'financial programming'. Using different types of countries, including transition economies and developing countries as case studies, it enables you to study issues such as the role of capital controls and the problems of highly indebted countries.

Unit 1: Macroeconomic Stabilisation and the Role of the International Monetary Fund
Unit 2: The IMF’s Approach to Stabilisation
Unit 3: Alternative Approaches to Stabilisation
Unit 4: Stabilisation and the Financial Sector
Unit 5: Stabilisation Policy and the Financial Sector: Institutional Responses to Recent Crises
Unit 6: Stabilisation and the Financial Sector: Some Challenges and Controversies
Unit 7: Stabilisation and Low-income Countries
Unit 8: Challenges for Low-income Countries

Elective modules

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

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 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

Derivatives

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

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

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

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

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

Modelling firms and markets

Modelling firms and markets is an introduction to the economics of information and uncertainty. Multi-person decision problems play a crucial role in industrial economics. This course begins with the basic concepts of game theory - the problems of decision-making under a multi-person environment. We will then examine the problems of private information and analyse the role of asymmetric information in market interactions, in particular the problems known as moral hazard (hidden actions) and adverse selection (hidden characteristics) under various economics contexts. You will learn how these informational problems affect the market outcome and if they lead to market inefficiencies, and if so, possible solutions.

Unit 1: Static Games of Complete Information
Unit 2: Dynamic Games of Complete Information
Unit 3: Static Games of Incomplete Information
Unit 4: Dynamic Games of Incomplete Information
Unit 5: Hidden Action (Moral Hazard)
Unit 6: Hidden Characteristics (Adverse Selection)
Unit 7: Auctions
Unit 8: General Competitive Equilibrium

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

Project appraisal

This is a course about financial and economic appraisal of projects. The project is a very specific element of the public policy and management mix. It normally consists of an investment, that is the creation of an asset which will generate benefits, financial and non-financial over a period of more than one year. This is not universally applicable as a working definition, as ‘project’ is often used to describe a set of discrete activities that do not always involve a capital investment, to achieve some specific goals. In this course, however, we will be dealing with capital investments.

Unit 1 Investment Appraisal Techniques I
Unit 2 Investment Appraisal Techniques II
Unit 3 Social Cost-Benefit Analysis
Unit 4 Valuation Methodologies in Social Cost-Benefit Analysis
Unit 5 Sector Analysis and Case Studies in SCBA
Unit 6 Risk and Uncertainty Analysis
Unit 7 Distributional Issues and Social Cost-Benefit Analysis
Unit 8 Critique and Reflection

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

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.

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:

  • The Study Guide, a core text specially written for the course. This takes the form of a looseleaf binder containing eight ‘course units’. The units are carefully structured to provide the main teaching of the course, defining and exploring the main concepts and issues, locating these within current debate and introducing and linking the further assigned readings.
  • Textbooks and collections of key journal articles and book extracts.
  • Online and multimedia tools. 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 course using discussion forums. The VLE also provides access to the course Study Guide and assignments, as well as a selection of electronic journals available on the University of London Online Library. In addition, some courses materials will also include video lectures on DVD, CDs of case studies, and econometric software.

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

Fees

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.
2016-17
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.

Funding

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.

Note 

Fees are subject to annual revision and typically may be increased by up to 5% per annum. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.
Assessment

Assessment

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.

Requirements

Academic Requirements

In order to be considered for registration applicants must have:

Either 

(a) 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)

Or 

(b) 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 (a) for this purpose, and which 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].

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Alumni Interview: MSc Finance (Economic Policy)

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