We are making some small changes to the curriculum and structure of the Master of Finance degree. It’s still quite early days for the course so we continue to watch and learn how it’s going. The content is to remain largely the same but we will cut the total number of classroom hours a bit, to allow more time for reading round the subject and preparing thoroughly for the remaining classes.
Two core courses are being discontinued. The first is Data Analysis, which has been taught by our extremely able colleagues in the management science group. It has been a good course but not as targeted as we would like on financial content. It will be replaced by a workshop, delivered either in one or two days, on financial modelling.
This change reflects a desire to cut down on total hours and to focus on what students most want, which is financial applications of modelling. Getting a good teacher for that is quite hard, because it really needs an experienced practitioner, which we have now got. This course will probably run in the Michaelmas (first) term.
The second core course to go is Valuation and Strategy, which ran in Lent (second) term. This will free up some time in what is currently a very busy period in January, when we have to run exams, as well as the panel judging the equity research project. The pressure of all that work and revision, combined with the winter weather, has made January a bit of a bottleneck in the course. Dropping Valuation and Strategy should improve this considerably.
We will add some more hours on valuation to the preparation for the equity research project, in November. This is more sensible because valuation is a key part of equity research. We will also start that project a week earlier, giving students more time during term to get organised and plan their work, so that they can be more productive during the Christmas vacation period.
Strategy is already taught separately by colleagues from the strategy teaching group at Judge Business School. Ideally we would cover a bit more on this important subject but we have to keep a balance between finance and non-finance content. There is also an elective on Financial Services Strategy, taught by the former CEO of Investec who is also a former McKinsey partner. So for those really interested in strategy there is a way to learn more.
Lastly we have a more cosmetic change. The course previously known as Principles of Finance 2 is to be renamed Economic Foundations of Finance. This is a more accurate title and avoids the mistaken impression that it is a direct extension of Principles of Finance 1. It is taught by a colleague from the economics faculty and is about the concepts of consumer choice, rationality and risk aversion that lie at the base of all finance theory but are often glossed over in pure finance courses. Finance is a child of economics and it’s important to be aware of the family tree, with it’s strengths and undoubted weaknesses.
I expect we will continue to make small changes each year but I’m fairly confident that the overall content and structure work well and would not expect any major changes for some time. After a few years we’ll do a more thorough review of the whole degree, getting comments from former students, teachers and practitioners but at present we get a pretty consistent message that things are pretty much fine as they are.