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MSc Financial Decision Making with Applications

Why we're great

  • Be part of a small but influential department
  • Take advantage of our specialist facilities in our renowned Maths Support Centre
  • Through our pioneering teaching approach we develop the mathematicians of the future

Course options2016-17

Duration: 1 year
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Mathematical Sciences
Fee (Home/EU): £7,950
Fee (International): £14,500

Duration: 2 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Mathematical Sciences
Fee (Home/EU): £3,975
Fee (International): £7,250

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719
Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

Develop the skills required for portfolio management, the application of stochastic calculus to the pricing of derivative securities, and the analysis of financial statements and financial reporting.

This course bridges the gap between traditional financial analysts and new traders who are taking on board cognitive psychology, teaching you how to use mathematical methods to manage risk attached to financial decision making.

You study a range of topics including:

  • Mathematics
  • Accounting
  • Management and finance
  • Psychology

Our interdisciplinary research recognises that mathematics, including what can be very abstract mathematics, is an essential part of research in many other disciplines.

Our Department of Mathematical Sciences has an international reputation in many areas including semi-group theory, optimisation, probability, applied statistics, bioinformatics and mathematical biology.

Our expert staff

Our Department of Mathematical Sciences is a small but influential department, so our students and staff know each other personally. You never need an appointment to see your tutors and supervisors, just knock on our office doors – we are one of the few places to have an open-door policy, and no issue is too big or small.

Our staff have published several well-regarded text books and are world leaders in their individual specialisms, with their papers appearing in learned journals like Communications in Algebra, Studia Logica, International Journal of Algebra and Computation, SIAM Journal in Optimization, IEEE Evolutionary Computation, Computers and Operations Research, Ecology, Journal of Mathematical Biology, and Journal of Statistical Applications in Genetics and Molecular Biology.

Specialist facilities

  • Unique to Essex is our renowned Maths Support Centre, which offers help to students, staff and local businesses on a range of mathematical problems. Throughout term-time, we can chat through mathematical problems either on a one-to-one or small group basis
  • We have our own computer labs for the exclusive use of students in the Department of Mathematical Sciences – in addition to your core maths modules, you gain computing knowledge of software including Matlab and Maple
  • We host regular events and seminars throughout the year
  • Our students run a lively Mathematics Society, an active and social group where you can explore your interest in your subject with other students

Your future

Graduates of this course gain many essential employment skills required by the business and finance world which include the analysis of financial statements, financial reporting and analytic reasoning, as well as other key skills like presentation, essay writing and computing.

Our graduates are highly sought after by a range of employers and find employment in financial services, scientific computation, decision making support and government, risk assessment, statistics, education and other sectors.

We also offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MSc by Dissertation. We have an international reputation in many areas such as semi-group theory, optimisation, probability, applied statistics, bioinformatics and mathematical biology, and our staff are strongly committed to research and to the promotion of graduate activities.

We additionally work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. 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.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

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.

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.

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.

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.

Why are arbitrage arguments important in modern finance? How can a binomial model evaluate derivatives? What are the main models for interest rates? Understand the mathematical techniques underlying the modelling of derivative pricing. Acquire skills in the development of pricing and risk management. Explore stochastic methods and credit risk.

How do you apply an algorithm or numerical method to a problem? What are the advantages? And the limitations? Understand the theory and application of nonlinear programming. Learn the principles of good modelling and know how to design algorithms and numerical methods. Critically assess issues regarding computational algorithms.

How do you solve systems of linear first-order equations in two unknowns with constant coefficients? Or analyse the stability characteristics of non-linear systems in two unknowns? Study the standard methods to solve single ordinary differential equations and systems of equations. Understand the underlying theory.

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.

How do you analyse stationary time series? Or non-stationary (integrated) processes? Understand the econometric methods available to analyse models of economic time series. Examine how methods of estimation and inference can be applied to these models. Learn how to use these methods in your own research.

How do you apply multivariate methods? Or demographical and epidemiological methods? And how do you apply sampling methods? Study three application areas of statistics – multivariate methods, demography and epidemiology, and sampling. Understand how to apply and assess these methods in a variety of situations.

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.

What do you understand about Bayes’ theorem and Bayesian statistical modelling? Or about Markov chain Monte Carlo simulation? Focus on Bayesian and computational statistics. Understand the statistical modelling and methods available. Learn to develop a Monte Carlo simulation algorithm for simple probability distributions.

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.

Teaching

  • Core components can be combined with optional modules, to enable you to gain either in-depth specialisation or a breadth of understanding
  • Learn to use LATEX to produce a document as close as possible to what professional mathematicians produce in terms of organisation, layout and type-setting
  • Our postgraduates are encouraged to attend conferences and seminars on a Thursday afternoon

Assessment

  • Courses are assessed on the results of your written examinations, together with continual assessments of your practical work and coursework

Dissertation

  • You will be provided with a list of dissertation titles or topics proposed by staff and it may be possible to propose a project of your own
  • Most dissertations are between 10,000 and 30,000 words in length. However, these are guidelines, not mandatory word counts
  • Close supervision by academic staff

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

A degree with an overall high 2:2.

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.

IELTS entry requirements

IELTS 6.0 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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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.

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.

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Although great care is taken in compiling our course details, they are intended for the general guidance of prospective students only. The University reserves the right to make 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, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University.

The full procedures, rules and regulations of the University are set out in the Charter, Statues and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.