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MSc Accounting and Finance

Why we're great

  • We are home to one of the largest and most-respected finance groups in the UK
  • Tailor your Masters to your career goals with our wide range of modules
  • We are at the forefront of accounting and finance research – be at the cutting-edge of the discipline

Course options2017-18

Duration: 1 year
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Essex Business School
Fee (Home/EU): £10,200
Fee (International): £15,950
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Duration: 2 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Essex Business School
Fee (Home/EU): £5,100
Fee (International): £7,975
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719
Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk
Live chat

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About the course

How can organisations ensure fair and accurate accounting? How has finance changed in the wake of the global economic crisis?

Our MSc Accounting and Finance is taught at Essex Business School, an internationally diverse school ranked in the top 25 in the UK for research excellence (REF, 2014). You join one of the UK’s largest and most respected finance groups and experience a Masters education that combines theory with practice. You further your understanding of advanced accounting and corporate finance and can tailor your studies to your professional ambitions by choosing from a range of optional modules.

You cover topics including:

  • recent developments in theoretical approaches to accounting and corporate finance
  • quantitative and qualitative approaches to empirical research
  • financial reporting
  • portfolio management

Our world-renowned academics are at the cutting-edge of their fields. They embed the latest thinking into your course to ensure you stay up-to-date with the current developments and major issues in accounting and financial reporting.

Whether you’re thinking about continuing your studies to PhD level or targeting a senior role in the world of accounting or finance, this is the course to advance your career.

Our MSc Accounting and Finance is also available to study part-time and you may be eligible for University of Essex scholarships and discounts. Postgraduate loans for Masters courses are now available from the Student Loans Company, worth up to £10,000, for students from the UK and EU.

Our expert staff

Our expert academics and practitioners seek to shape the direction of debate and research in the fields of accounting and finance, addressing issues currently faced by commercial businesses, public sector bodies and not-for-profit organisations. Their work has been cited in the national press and we’re home to internationally regarded figures, such as Emeritus Professor Prem Sikka, who is campaigning for an end to corporation tax avoidance.

Essex Business School has four accounting and finance research centres, producing work with real-world impact:

We’re recognised for being at the forefront of research in:

  • business ethics
  • corporate social responsibility
  • organisation studies
  • leadership and strategy
  • finance and banking
  • risk management
  • international management

Specialist facilities

We’re proud to have the UK’s first zero carbon business school building, which reflects our commitment to ethical and sustainable business. You will be able to:

  • practise analysing financial data in our virtual trading floor, complete with Bloomberg Financial Market Labs
  • prepare for your lectures in our lush winter garden
  • experience our Eden-style dome, which gives the building its own micro-climate
  • learn in light and spacious lecture theatres
  • utilise our study pods and innovation booths for group working
  • network with visiting businesses
  • utilise the study skills services provided by the EBS Learning Team
  • relax in Bonds café, adjacent to our sun terrace

Your future

We develop your business skills so you can use creativity, innovation and ethical awareness to solve the challenges that the international business world continues to present. In 2015, 78% of our postgraduate taught students were in work or further study (DLHE).

Our recent graduates have progressed to roles in financial analysis, management, public administration and accountancy in high-profile organisations and exciting SMEs across the world, such as:

  • The Government of Pakistan
  • Brit College
  • Dytex Cotfabr
  • Capital Markets Intelligence, a financial publisher
  • Credit Data Research, a provider of small business finance

We’re also proud of our student entrepreneurs, including international business incubator 0100Ventures and entrepreneurship website SlovakSTARTUP.

Working alongside the University’s Employability and Careers Centre, we’ll help you find out about employability opportunities, such as work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities. There is also access to employer talks on campus.

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Example structure

Most of our courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

Year 1

Your dissertation is the culmination of your Masters programme, where you apply the knowledge gained on your course to produce an extended independent piece of work. You generate an original idea, analyse literature and current knowledge and produce a coherent argument that shows your ability to relate theory to practice. Your dissertation will help you develop vital skills for the workplace, as well as the ability to analyse real problems through an academic lens. You are assigned a supervisor for the duration of your project.

This module covers topics in mathematics that are required in Masters-level finance courses at the University of Essex. You focus on the basics of linear algebra, differential calculus including optimisation and dynamics.

Understand the process of portfolio management. You cover the main concepts such as efficient diversification, managing risk exposures, and the valuation of financial assets that are at the core of managing investment portfolios, and pay special attention to the practicalities of the implementation of these concepts.

Demonstrate a critical understanding of major current issues in financial accounting and reporting. You develop an awareness of financial reporting theory, the problematic nature of accounting measurements and disclosures, corporate disclosure regulation, the implications of market efficiency for financial reporting, and the potential role of accounting information in social reporting and collective bargaining.

Management accounting provides information required for decision-making, planning and control and cost management. You examine a range of contemporary issues in management accounting such as activity-based costing, strategic management accounting and other management accounting issues. You also evaluate contemporary approaches of management control theories to understand the current practices of management accounting locally and globally.

Explore key issues in contemporary auditing through evaluation of recent published research in the principal auditing and accounting journals. You also consider the major policy issues facing the auditing profession, and suggest changes and reforms that might be beneficial both to the profession and to those affected by the activities of auditors.

Analyse the changing practices and theorization of management accounting and control in emerging and less-developed countries in the context of environmental change, institutional and socio-economic factors. You examine traditional management control systems in the context of different cultural, political, and socio-economic contexts.

Develop a critical understanding of current issues in international financial reporting. You analyse the development of national accounting systems, the role of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and its impact on financial reporting internationally, and the particular financial reporting needs of developing countries.

This module gives you a critical understanding of current issues in corporate governance theory, regulation and practice at both national and international levels. You undertake a critical review of agency, stakeholder and other corporate governance related theories and explore the codes and regulations governing corporate and board behaviour. Examples include the UK’s Combined Code, Operating and Financial Review and the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act. You examine real-world case studies and develop a deeper understanding of the meaning of ‘good’ governance.

This module introduces you to financial reporting, governance, regulation, and analysis of financial statements. You also gain an understanding of the role of published financial statements in aiding users in their decision-making.

This module introduces you to management accounting and management control principles, investment appraisal and financial control principles, and market and managerial behaviours. You examine a range of issues that relate to financial and managerial decision-making, including incremental costing, budgeting, activity-based costing, capital structure and long term financing, and financial analysis of commercial projects.

This module introduces you to some of the main topics and issues in electronic commerce and electronic business, illustrating both traditional and critical approaches to understanding them, and offering alternative perspectives on various dynamics of this technology.

Against a backdrop of financial reporting scandals and crises, academics and regulators are looking harder at the effects of capital markets on the global economy and financial stability. This module examines the relationship between accounting information and capital markets. You are encouraged to reflect on how accounting information is prepared, disseminated and used in the real world. Topics include areas such as firm valuation and corporate governance, voluntary disclosure, fraud, financial analysts and shareholder voting power.

This module offers you a standard introduction of the field of corporate finance at postgraduate level. You consider the classical areas of Modigliani-Miller irrelevance, Taxes and capital structure, Trade-off theory and Pecking order theory of capital structure, before exploring the more modern areas, which are essentially based on contract theory.

Master the pricing of financial derivatives and their use for hedging financial risks. You study the basics of futures and options, analyse the Black-Scholes and binomial option pricing models, and consider various numerical techniques for pricing financial derivatives. Futures and options are then utilised in the context of hedging financial risks, and you are introduced to the concept of volatility trading and the treatment of volatility as an asset class.

Gain a formal introduction to asset pricing theories and empirical findings. You review the fundamental theories of the expected utility, asset pricing kernels, and risk-neutral valuation, covering the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), and linear factor models arising from the Arbitrage Pricing Theory (APT). You also discuss empirical asset pricing studies.

Gain an understanding of international arbitrage relationships, models of exchange rate determination, and recent issues and debates in the international finance literature. Learn to describe the basic international parity relationships, to outline some of the basic models of exchange rate determination, and have a good grasp of issues such as the international debt crisis, capital mobility, and the advent of the European single currency.

Consider the use of modern econometric techniques in the analysis of financial time series. You cover multivariate models for stationary and non-stationary processes, such as Vector Autoregressive models, consider appropriate models for volatility, and study Markov processes and simulation methods used for financial modelling.

Behavioural finance rejects crucial tenets of mainstream finance such as the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) on the basis that agents are less than fully rational, and that arbitrage fails to eliminate mispricing. Instead it identifies market anomalies or regularities such as holiday effects that are at odds with the EMH. You learn to use ideas from cognitive psychology, such as overconfidence, and aspects of imperfect arbitrage to explain these.

The recent financial crisis and credit crunch have demonstrated that risk management was too narrowly defined. In this course you examine the Value at Risk (VAR) measure of financial risk developed in the 1990s, before discussing the new post-crisis Regulatory environment.

Discover the concepts and tools that are useful to asset managers who want to use fixed income securities for investing, market-making or speculating. You first study fixed income markets and instruments, before going on to explore basic concepts of bond portfolio management and investigating the quantitative tools used to value bonds and manage bonds' portfolios.

Gain theoretical knowledge and a practical understanding of financial markets, trading strategies, risk and money management and trader analytics at the highest level. You study a mix of classroom-based instruction, case studies and practical trading exercises where you trade on real-time simulated global markets through the use of industry-strength proprietary trading software in the trading lab.

This module introduces Matlab, software commonly used in financial organisations and academia to model portfolio construction and solve banking and finance challenges. You learn how to use Matlab programming language to solve financial problems. These may include finding optimal portfolio weights, calculating and simulating derivative prices and implied volatilities, and estimating and simulating GARCH models, amongst others.

Explore the basics of the structure and environment of banking, and selected aspects of the applied economics of the modern banking firm. You study structure-conduct-performance, competition, bank efficiency, regulation, international banking and bank failures and crises.

Analyse the key strategic developments in banking and the main aspects of risk management in modern banks. You are introduced to the concept of shareholder value in banking, the main banking strategies to create shareholder value, the key risks in banking, and the most important tools required to manage bank risks.

Taught exclusively by leading industry experts, this module offers you a unique opportunity to appreciate the latest developments and issues faced by leading practitioners in the areas of quantitative finance and risk management.

This module equips you with a critical understanding of research methods and methodologies in the field of accounting. You develop the skills needed to explore issues in accounting and identify, choose and implement research designs and strategies.

This module equips you with the econometric tools and necessary experience to conduct empirical research in finance. You review statistical and basic econometric models and learn to apply econometric techniques in finance by considering topics such as (G)ARCH models, unit roots and cointegration.

Teaching

  • Tailor the content of your course to more closely fit your interests and aspirations
  • Courses focus on practical applications and links with industry
  • We run an open seminar series, which our Masters students are welcome to attend
  • learn in an international environment; our Masters students join us from more than 40 countries

Assessment

  • Regular assessment is by coursework, presentations, case studies, group work, tests and examinations

Dissertation

  • You submit a 15,000 word dissertation.

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

A 1st, 2:1 or good 2:2 degree, or equivalent, in accounting or a related discipline.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

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Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

Visit us

Open days

We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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