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MSc Behavioural Finance

Masters in Behavioural Finance

At a glance

  • Study for one of the most recognised Masters courses within the behavioural finance sector, affiliated with the CFA Institute.
  • Specialise in one of the most exciting areas combining cognitive and behavioural psychology with finance
  • Benefit from the expertise of two leading schools in Finance and Psychology
  • Broaden your vocational knowledge and build a mixture of marketable quantitative expertise and soft skills
  • Experience a practice-centred delivery approach including hands-on sessions, case based learning and trading simulations
  • This is the first postgraduate degree in the UK with a thorough and balanced curriculum combining both finance and psychology.
Level
Masters
Subject area(s)
Finance (ICMA Centre)
Award
MSc
Duration
9 months / 12 months
Attendance
Full-time
Locations
Whiteknights campus (Reading)
Programme Director
Schopohl Lisa 201
Dr Lisa Schopohl

Overview


The MSc Behavioural Finance at the ICMA Centre will give you a deep understanding of the world of finance, financial markets and the psychological factors that influence investment decisions and systematically affect market outcomes. Financial institutions are increasingly utilising behavioural finance to explain and predict investment patterns and customer behaviours. Hence behavioural finance graduates are in increasingly higher demand.

The MSc Behavioural Finance is affiliated with the CFA Institute. This is in recognition that this degree covers at least 70% of the CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge, the CFA Institute Ethical and Professional Standards, and other requirements. Parallel with your studies, you will also have the opportunity to prepare for the CFA level 1 exam.

Along with a comprehensive Finance focused careers development programme you will also have the option to undertake a summer work placement as part of your studies.

Our master's in finance courses are available only on a full-time basis with the option of studying for 9 or 12 months.

Learning options

Full-time: 9 months
Full-time: 12 months
Students will be resident and undertake full-time study in the UK. Under both, the 9 and 12-month programmes students take compulsory and/or elective modules in Part 2.

The 12 month option involves taking an elective module(s) between June and August, which would also mean a reduction in the number of taught modules taken in the spring term.

Course structure

October – December: Part 1 Autumn Term

January: Part 1 Exams. Please note that the January Exams will start 1 week before the official start of the Spring Term.

January-April: Part 2 Spring Term

May – June: Part 2 Exams

June (9 month students only): Project/Research Study due

June – August (12 month programme only): Part 3

August/Sep (12 month programme only): Part 3 Coursework deadlines


Below is a list of programme modules that will be available in 2022/23. Please note that some of these modules are new for 2022/23, and full module descriptions will be released in March 2022. For any other modules which are available for both this academic year (2021/22) and next (2022/23), follow the “More Information” link to see more.

Part 1

Compulsory modules Credits

This module focuses on cash securities evaluation (fixed income, equity, and FX) and the use of these securities for investments (derivatives and portfolio theory).

Part I of the module applies general valuation methods to specific financial instruments: fixed income, equity securities, and FX. It describes the characteristics of each security/market and develops practical strategies for finding its value and assessing its risk.

Part II of the module provides an in-depth introduction to financial derivatives (futures and options) and their evaluation. Part III of the module analyses the main framework behind portfolio theory and optimum asset allocation, followed by the introduction of the main pricing models, their applications and limitation.

Equity and FX trading simulations sessions (INVEST sessions) are paired with the modules. Exercises based on Eikon, and Bloomberg data will be used.

The module deals with the valuation of fixed income and equity securities. It focuses on the basic characteristics of each security and the strategies used for approximating their fundamental value and assessing their risk. Its primary aim is to discuss how certain characteristics and relationships can affect the value of fixed income and equity securities and how can they be exploited to form optimal investment strategies. The module also develops ways of optimally selecting portfolios of assets and develops models of how these portfolios may be priced in financial markets. Through a detailed overview of derivatives instruments, their characteristics and valuation, it is shown how they can enhance portfolio returns and help in the management of investment risk. The analytical techniques introduced in this module are widely applied in other elements of the programme.

Academic authors
Miriam Marra
Dr Miriam Marra
30

This module provides an introduction to international financial markets and an overview of financial institutions. The main characteristics and risks of a range of financial markets are presented: equity, fixed income, foreign exchange, futures and commodity markets. A series of interactive workshops are used to learn about ethical investing and alternative trading systems.

To provide an economic framework for understanding global financial markets, financial institutions, market players and the importance of liquidity and price efficiency. Participants will gain an understanding of commercial and investment banks, mutual funds, central banks, stock, bond and repo markets. Also, participants will learn about specific characteristics and risks of foreign exchange markets as well as futures markets and commodity markets.

Students will become familiar with different firms in the industry, how they differ from each other and the various careers available within the industry as an aid to their own career development.

Academic authors
Alfonso Dufour
Dr Alfonso Dufour
10

This module equips you with the quantitative tools used by market participants. The module uses a mixture of (1) lectures where the theory and concepts are introduced and (2) seminars and workshops where we apply the knowledge to practical cases.

It is an introductory applied econometrics module with an emphasis on finance.

The aims and objectives of the module are to give students an introduction to econometrics so that they might understand the econometric techniques used in the finance research literature. Via case studies and computer modelling exercises, students then learn how to apply these techniques to real data. Emphasis is placed on practical applications of the techniques in the global financial markets. The module aims to encourage the development of IT and data handling skills: in particular, the use of Python as the software to apply the econometric techniques to data from Eikon and Bloomberg.

Academic authors
Michael Clements
Professor Michael Clements
20
The aim of the module is to introduce students to the scope and nature of psychology as a science relevant to the understanding of financial markets. The emphasis will be on acquiring knowledge and understanding thereby developing students’ transferable skills of analysis, evaluation and critical thinking. The content of the module offers a range of core topics with a strong focus on the scientific method and research practice. Students will be introduced to a number of core areas within psychology relevant to the study of human behaviour within finance, such as cognitive, social and biological psychology. Students will study some of the classical studies within psychology, as well as being introduced to newer topics. *We reserve the right to change this list should staffing or other changes in circumstance make it necessary.
Academic authors
Dr Philip Beaman
10

Part 2

Compulsory modules Credits

Financial theories have traditionally assumed that rational, risk-averse investors trade in efficient and free-flowing asset markets. Academic research and practitioner experience have cast doubt on this paradigm, instead proposing that investors may not be utility maximisers, and that there may be impediments to the functioning of markets. This module will describe recent developments in the application of principles drawn from psychology to financial issues.

This course is positioned in the cross-section of Finance and Psychology. It provides an alternative framework to that of traditional neo-classical finance principles in explaining market behaviour and interpreting stylised characteristics. A variety of psychological principles and well-established cognitive biases are examined and connections are made with the influence they have on the investment (and corporate) decision making process. Market anomalies and puzzles are interpreted based on these connections.

Academic authors
Yueting Cui
Dr Yueting Cui
20

This investment portfolio management module covers key topics, techniques and discussions, including investment styles, in relation to constructing and maintaining an optimal investment portfolio. The teaching approaches all topics from academic and market, practical perspectives. More detailed aims and learning outcomes are included below.

The module aims to build on the investment management foundation that has been introduced in the Securities, Futures and Options module. This investment portfolio management module covers the issues involved in understanding the investment management industry, constructing and maintaining an optimal investment portfolio (active, passive or smart beta investment styles), diversification, evaluating portfolio performance, risk management and portfolio rebalancing. The module will also introduce you to the world of alternative investments - the hedge fund industry, in particular. The compulsory, practical group project of the course will provide students with hands-on experience in constructing and managing a realistic investment portfolio.

20
To give students a broad overview of research in behavioural economics and an understanding of how this research has been applied in real-life settings (e.g., public policy; marketing).
Academic authors
Rachel McCloy
10

Students of the 12-month (9-month) programme select 30 (50) credits from a selection of electives.

Optional modules Credits

This module examines the steps involved in carrying out a PhD at the ICMA centre.

Academic authors
Alfonso Dufour
Dr Alfonso Dufour
0

The objective is to introduce the students to programming and its usage for data processing and finance. It deals with how to write programming code, process files, receive input and provide output. Students who complete this course will be able to write programming code in Python, process files, input, output and manage data. Furthermore, students will be able to read and write to Excel and CSV files, connect to databases, obtain and process data from the Web, as well as use Python for Finance and Econometrics applications.

Academic authors
Vu Tran
Dr Vu Tran
10

The module objective is to give students a practical working knowledge of the pricing, hedging and trading of derivative securities, in particular options, via the use of trading simulations and pricing case studies/software. The emphasis of the module is on practical application and it is expected that by the end of the module students will understand and be able to analyse the time/risk dynamics of derivatives in a trading environment. Trading sessions are delivered in our state-of-the-art dealing rooms and utilising our bespoke trading simulation software ICTrader, offering exposure into real trading environment and the price formation process. Students will learn how to “think on their feet”, an essential skill in the investment banking industry.

Academic authors
Michael smith
Dr Michael Smith
20

The aim of the research project is to allow students to define and execute a piece of research in finance on a topic of their choice, with direction from an academic supervisor and with assistance from a doctoral student support supervisor.

The self-directed nature of study for this model should encourage students to be resourceful in their search for relevant literature and data, and to manage the various stages involved effectively, leading to timely submission of the finished piece.

Academic authors
Charles Sutcliffe
Professor Charles Sutcliffe
20

Fixed Income Cash and Derivative Markets applies more advanced valuation and risk assessment methods that build on the knowledge introduced in the fixed income component of the first term Fixed Income and Equity Investments module: It describes the basic characteristics of fixed income derivatives, structured products and credit sensitive securities and develops practical strategies for valuation and risk assessment. It also considers how the markets for these securities are related and begins the task of showing how these relationships can be exploited for trading or investment. The module is designed not only for students wanting a more advanced knowledge of the fixed income markets, but also for students wishing to take the exam for the ICMA Fixed Income Certificate (ICMA FIC)

Academic authors
Gail Rolland
20

Bond and Money Markets explores the economic drivers and relationships between bond, money markets and central bank monetary policies. The module offers students the opportunity to gain an understanding of how these connections affect funding liquidity management, trading strategies and the challenges faced by practitioners as well as regulators/policy makers. The course also covers the overall functions, structure and operation of the money market.

The main aims of the module are to provide the tools for understanding the functioning of money markets, their connection with bond markets and central bank interventions, the fundamental determinants of interest rate markets and the commonly used trading strategies.

Academic authors
Sangiorgi Ivan 204
Dr Ivan Sangiorgi
20

The main aim of the course is to provide a rigorous grounding of the theory and practice of corporate finance and more specifically the long-term financial management decisions of the firm pertaining to investments, financing and payout and how they affect its value. It deals with how corporations are governed, their financing structures, payout policies, the processes involved in the issuance of public and private equity, as well growing through inorganic investment (mergers and acquisitions).

This course also deals with advanced financial analysis and enterprise valuation methods employed by financial advisors/investment banks as part of providing advice to corporations.

Students on this course take part in a bespoke investment banking pitch-book simulation challenge whereby they work with their team to produce a real life pitch-book including financial analysis on a real transaction as part of assessing the company’s strategic alternatives. In addition to lectures and case study based seminars the module also includes a 2-day financial modelling and valuation training by Financial Edge, the company responsible for training the analysts of the top-3 investment banks.

Academic authors
George Alexandridis
Professor George Alexandridis
20

The objective of the module is to develop students’ appreciation of the practical aspects of raising venture capital finance for a private company, working with the venture capital investor in growing the business and achieving a successful exit. The focus of the module is on venture capital and high-growth ventures from the viewpoints of both the entrepreneur or management team and of the investing institution (general partner), although private equity as a whole is covered as well as the relationship between the private equity or venture capital firm and its own investors (limited partner institutions). Extensive use will be made of case studies and a business plan project in addition to guest lectures from invited experienced practitioners.

Academic authors
Keith Arundale
Dr Keith Arundale
10

Regulation is often seen as an obstacle to innovation, or innovation as a way of avoiding regulations. However, successful Fintech products and services must comply with the letter and spirit of financial regulations, and effective regulation of Fintech is essential to protect wider public interests. This module will place the relationship between financial innovation and regulation at the centre of students' understanding of Fintech.

This course starts by introducing how financial regulation seeks to protect consumers and markets, looking at the rationales for regulation, national and international organisational structures, and approaches to regulation. Each of these will be linked to the impact that it may have on new financial technologies, recognising that Fintech is a broad term that covers a wide variety of products and services, each of which may be subject to regulation by different regulators and in different ways. Fintech innovations are often seen as a form of regulatory arbitrage. But the relationship between regulators and innovators need not be adversarial, and this module will also explore how regulators are engaging pro-actively with Fintech developers to encourage innovation and provide advice on compliance with regulation. It will also investigate the emerging potential of 'RegTech', namely the use of new technologies to facilitate the delivery of regulatory requirements. The module will then consider how financial and Fintech firms collect and manage data, the role of data monetisation in Fintech business models, and the challenges presented by the General Data Protection Regulation and by cyber-crime. Cyber-security is a key concern today and the module will examine the sources of cyber-vulnerability and the importance of instilling a strong cyber-security culture within an organisation.

Academic authors
Tony Moore
Dr Tony Moore
10

In this course you will learn how big data techniques can be used to solve problems in finance. We will first explore issues related to the collection, organisation and visualisation of large sets of structured and unstructured data. We will then look at methods for storage and computation of big data sets by distributed computing (Hadoop). The module will also explore the use of cloud computing platforms with a focus on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

The course focuses on (1) issues facing big data handling (2) retrieval, organisation and cleaning of structured and unstructured data (3) a high level description of a system for the distributed storage and processing of big data (Hadoop) (4) cloud computing with a focus on the Google Cloud Platform (5) finance applications.

Academic authors
Mr Mininder Sethi
10

This module develops a fundamental understanding of and critical perspectives on the rationales, purpose, design, application and consequences of financial regulation globally.

This module aims to

  • provide an overview of the purpose of financial regulation and its relationship to the real economy and the financial economy
  • discuss how purpose can affect design and application in the context of other factors such as political pressure, regulatory capture, revolving doors and lobbying
  • examine the consequences of financial regulation and financial sector reform for different markets and jurisdictions, including that of the students’ home countries.
Academic authors
Deepa Govindarajan
Dr. Deepa Govindarajan Driver
20

Understanding customers, whether in consumer or business-to-business is at the heart of the marketing discipline. This module uses contributing social sciences such as psychology, sociology and economics to understand the drivers to consumer behaviour.

20

Over the past decade, the need to apply strategies to change behaviour for the benefit of society and future generations has become apparent, through numerous initiatives such as public health and sustainability campaigns. Integrating key perspectives in behavioural economics and psychology through lectures, case studies, group discussions and presentations, identify the major challenges and opportunities in behaviour change theory today and gain the knowledge and skills to become a leader in developing and utilising nudge and behaviour change strategies in practice.

10

Part 3 (9-month only)

Students of the 9-month programme have a compulsory 10 credit applied project to be submitted by the end of June ( Applied Project).

Compulsory modules Credits

To develop the skills of finding the available information on their chosen topic, and then analysing, synthesising and summarising this information in a way that is both sensible and clear to the reader. This will be done with a fixed time constraint. Students will improve their analytical and report-writing skills, learn how to structure their study, and how to place their findings in a wider context.

The self-directed nature of study for this module should encourage students to be resourceful in their search for relevant literature, ideas and data; and to manage the various stages involved effectively, leading to a timely submission of the finished piece.

10

Part 3 (12-month only)

Students of the 12-month programme choose 30 credits from a selection of electives :

Optional modules Credits

This module is designed for advanced Master’s students and doctoral students. It has a very high technical content. It aims to equip the students with the foundations of theoretical asset pricing and with the relevant skills for performing empirical tests. Additionally, a few important corporate finance topics will be covered in the format of student presentations. The objective of the module is to prepare students to become independent and quality researchers.

Academic authors
Marcel Prokopczuk
Professor Marcel Prokopczuk
20

The module is less quantitative option open to all MSc students that builds on the coverage of futures contracts from term 1. By the end of the module it is expected that students will be aware of the different ways of constructing stock market indices and the implications of these differences, how futures contracts are traded and the identity of some of the close substitutes for trading index futures, how futures can be priced using an arbitrage relationship, how futures can be used for hedging the price risk of the underlying, and the various uses that fund managers make of these instruments.

Academic authors
Charles Sutcliffe
Professor Charles Sutcliffe
20

This module gives students the opportunity to pursue a work placement with an external organisation broadly related to the general sphere of their degree studies. The aim of the module is to allow participants to gain work experience in a career path of interest, develop a wide range of employability skills, build their network and enhance market awareness. The maximum duration of the placement is 3 months and it takes place during the summer vacation period (June-August). Placements should be secured by students independently. The Centre’s career development office can support students in their search and application process. Placements secured by students are subject to the approval of the module convenor. The module is assessed by a 3,000-word project based on the work experience gained.

Academic authors
Michael smith
Dr Michael Smith
20

Industry participants estimate that 70-80% of equity trades are executed through computers. Market-makers in fixed income and currency markets use algorithms to automatically adjust their quotes. This module reviews the current state of the trading industry and identifies aims, features, regulations, and limitations of three main groups of algorithmic trading strategies: market making, trade execution and statistical arbitrage. Practical seminars are used to demonstrate how to apply trading algorithms to high-frequency data.

By the end of the module, it is expected that the student will be able to:

• explain the concepts of high frequency trading and algorithmic trading

• identify the characteristic elements of alternative algorithmic trading strategies

• solve simple trade execution problems and develop effective execution strategies

Academic authors
Alfonso Dufour
Dr Alfonso Dufour
10

An applied, innovative approach to the structured product market from a practical point of view. Topical issues are addressed in a systematic way to discuss the principles of financial engineering and application to structured products.

This module aims to introduce the key principles and techniques of financial engineering used in structured product design.

By the end of the module, students will be able to

- Apply key concepts of financial engineering to structured product design

- Understand and analyse different types of structured products currently available in the global capital markets.

- Solve a large variety of financial problems by designing and valuing one or more structured solutions.

Academic authors
Marcel Prokopczuk
Professor Marcel Prokopczuk
10

In this module, alternative forms of financial investments are discussed. In particular, the following topics are covered:

· Introduction to Alternative Investments: Hedge Funds: Market Structure, Strategies and Performance Evaluation

· Macro and Managed Futures Funds

· Funds of Hedge Funds

· Commodities: Physical and Financial Markets. Energy, Agricultural, Metals.

· Real Estate: Investment Types. Commercial and Residential markets. Valuation Approaches

· Collectables: Art, Wine and other Special Forms of Investments

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of financial decision making in the context of alternative investments.

Academic authors
Marcel Prokopczuk
Professor Marcel Prokopczuk
10

The module or course content descriptions set out on this page are correct for those being taught in the current academic year. Modules or course content marked as optional are indicative and may be subject to change.

How can Henley Careers work with you?

We have an award-winning careers team that will support you through your postgraduate studies and four years after graduation.

Here is how Henley Careers can help you:

  • Careers Consultant appointments: Our Careers Consultant are here to help and support you with any careers related concern that you might have. Whether it’s CV advice, practicing for an interview, providing feedback if applications aren't successful or support planning your career goals. We are here to help empower you to progress in your career.
  • Events: Henley Careers organise numerous events aimed to help you build your confidence, develop the skills employers are looking for. Additionally, network with employers and expand your industry knowledge.
  • Alumni support: You can continue to book one-to-one appointments with your Careers Consultant and use our online resources. For up to four years after graduating we’re here to help and support in your career.
  • Career Smart: Get a head start in securing a graduate job by taking part in our online course, Career Smart. You can expect to learn about the graduate recruitment cycle in the UK. As well as where to look and how to start applying to jobs, and the different roles available to you.

For more information  please see our Careers page.

Continuing your career

Despite the volatile nature of the financial markets, demand for well‐qualified recruits remains high. Schooled in the field of behavioural finance, you will be in demand as investment banks, asset managers and associated industries attempt to understand investment patterns and pricing bubbles that cannot be explained by conventional finance theories. Thus, they have been showing increasing attention to behaviourally driven investment philosophies over the last few years. We expect many of our graduates to enter the industry at either the ‘Analyst’ level or as ‘Associates’, who tend to have several years of relevant professional experience.

You'll leave us equipped with knowledge and transferable skills that are also prized by employers outside of the traditional banking and finance sectors. Many of our Alumni are currently enjoying successful careers with multinational companies, consulting firms, government agencies and regulatory organisations throughout the world. You will also gain the knowledge and skills required to continue your studies at the doctoral level.

Professional accreditation

CFA Institute

CFA Institute

Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment (CISI)

Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment (CISI)

ICMA Fixed Income Certificate

ICMA Fixed Income Certificate

Corporate Finance Consultant Certificate (CFC) Programme

The ICMA Centre is among the pioneers in finance education and renowned for its strong links with the financial services industry. The Centre was ranked number 7 in the UK for its Masters programmes in 2021 (Financial Times Masters in Finance Ranking). It is also part of Henley Business School – among an elite group of 75 business schools in the world to hold triple-accredited status from the leading UK, European and US accrediting bodies: AMBA, EQUIS and AACSB.

The Centre’s unique practice centred approach includes a number of finance education innovations. These will provide you with a solid grounding for a career in the industry. The approach aims to equip you with a skill set that sets you apart from graduates of other finance programmes. Your employability track record is also bolstered by an in-house comprehensive career development programme.

Reading has proximity to the world’s top financial centre (25 mins from London Paddington). Several leading professional bodies including the CFA, CISI, GARP and ICS validate our programmes and offer exam exemptions to our students.

Joining one of the top schools of finance in Europe, you will benefit from state-of-the-art facilities. You will have access to the latest technology and will be taught by world-renowned faculty and industry experts. Our innovative teaching and learning environment includes trading and financial analysis simulations. We also have the latest financial data and programming software. Our three dealing rooms are one of the largest facilities of its kind in the world. They provide an ideal setting for understanding how businesses and markets function in practice.

Our students’ learning experience is a top priority for academic faculty and administrative staff at the ICMA Centre. This is reflected in the latest student satisfaction rates in the PTES and NSS student surveys.

“When I joined I was immediately impressed by the high-end facilities and the fact that that renowned practitioners and academics in the sector are involved from day one in the teaching as well as our career development.”
Elena-Anna Gkermpesioti, MSc International Shipping & Finance

Speak to a current student

Contact us

For any questions of academic nature about this programme you are welcome to contact directly the Programme Director, Lisa Schopohl, l.schopohl@icmacentre@ac.uk.

Admissions

If you have any questions about admissions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Email: admissions@icmacentre.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)118 378 6497