The banking and financial sectors are heavily dependent on computer systems. Analyses of the stock market and processing of everyday banking transactions are based on computer systems.
This programme covers the application and development of computer technologies as used in banking and financial systems, as well as financial and economic principles. Hence this programme allows you to acquire knowledge in three subjects: Computing, Economics and Finance, together with the analytical skills required for a successful career in the financial sector.
The course has a distinct international dimension as financial markets today are international in scope: trading in equities, bonds, derivatives and other securities occurs across borders and on a global scale. The course emphasises the key characteristics of today’s globalised financial world.
Structure and Content
The programme comprises three elements: two 15-week semesters of taught modules and a three-month dissertation.
The first part of the programme (Semester 1) concentrates on fundamental techniques. The second part (Semester 2) integrates, develops and applies these skills.
In the Autumn semester you will take the following modules:
Financial Economics: Financial instruments and how they are traded; the key tools used by financial economists; the major topics in financial economics including portfolio theory, diversification and mean variance analysis; asset-pricing models, efficient market hypothesis, and market anomalies; the pricing of bonds, stocks, and other financial instruments.
Quantitative Methods in Finance: The statistical and computing skills which are necessary to understand fully and perform modern financial analysis.
Principles and Practice of Programming: This module will cover the design and testing of programs written in Java. You will study good practice in program construction, programming with data structures and graphical user interfaces.
table Database Principles and Applications: This module provides a critical understanding of the role of database management systems and the ability to creatively design and implement practical databases.
During the winter break there is an extended programming assignment using Java. Then, in the Spring Semester you will study:
Decision Support Systems: This module covers the use of IT methods and techniques in the support of decision-making in organisations, in particular modelling, simulation and intelligent decision support systems.
Object-Oriented Software Design: This module focuses on how to analyse and model requirements and develop object-oriented software, through the use of UML and CASE tools.
Networking: This module investigates the principles of data communications, including layered network architecture, services and protocols, such as TCP/IP, SMTP and SNMP
Derivatives: This module provides an understanding of the uses and the valuation of the main derivative financial instruments: futures, swaps and options. It covers the trading mechanisms used on derivative markets and explains the fundamental principles underlying the pricing of derivatives and their use in portfolio management. Particular attention is paid to the practicalities of using derivatives for risk management purposes.
table Investments and Portfolio Management: This module provides an understanding of portfolio management principles and the valuation of equities and fixed-interest securities. The basic principles of modern portfolio theory and asset pricing are applied to the asset allocation decision and the measurement of portfolio performance. The module also covers the determinants of the term structure of interest rates and the principles underlying the valuation of bonds and bond portfolios.
table Energy Markets: The function of the major markets for energy: oil, coal, natural gas, electric power, and alternative/renewable energy in a national and international context; the technological structure and parameters of energy supply and use; the principal drivers of supply and demand for energy; forecasting supply or demand for energy; the environmental issues related to energy use and consumption; the effect on energy markets of national and international environmental policy.
table Environmental Finance: An introduction to the field of environmental finance, encompassing all instruments designed to transfer environmental risk and to generate environmental quality.
You may graduate with the Postgraduate Diploma after two taught semesters, or you may continue with a three-month project and dissertation to qualify for the award of the MSc degree. The subject of the dissertation usually will be a computer application for a financial purpose.
Delivery and Assessment
You will learn about computing in financial markets through lectures, tutorials/seminars and practical sessions. Lectures involve the whole class, while tutorials and practicals are for small groups. Practical computer work is a key component in our degrees and provides the opportunity for hands-on computing experience. It builds from small assignments in the first semester, through a larger assignment in the Winter break, to the dissertation project in the summer. In fact, our computing laboratories offer 24-hour, 7-days a week access to state-of-the-art networked PCs, with full internet access.
The three Departments provide a friendly and supportive environment in which to work. For help and advice, each student is allocated a member of staff as a contact.
A mixture of assessment techniques including practical computer based assignments, essays/reports, and exams are used to allow you to give your best. Hence assessment is not based solely on final examinations: also, on most modules, the final grade takes account of work done during the semester as well as the examination. You are examined on the Autumn Semester’s work in December and on the Spring Semester’s work in May.
Following the taught part of the programme, the award of the MSc degree requires the completion of an individual, supervised project during the summer period. This is principally assessed through a written dissertation.
The Department of Computing Science and Mathematics is host to world-class research in the areas of Communications and Services, Computational Intelligence, and Applied Formal methods. The department operates within a welcoming atmosphere – staff doors are wide open and you can be sure of a high degree of personal attention.
The Department of Economics is committed to the pursuit of excellence in both research and teaching and has achieved high ratings in assessments by official agencies. Many of our lecturers have an international reputation in their specialisms and are at the forefront of research. These strengths are reflected in the modules offered by the Department and underline its commitment to quality in teaching.
The Department of Accounting and Finance offers a stimulating environment in which to study. It is internationally recognised for its accounting and finance research, reflected in the 5B rating achieved in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The Department also has a strong commitment to student support and to excellence in teaching.
The departments have strong links with industry and students get first-hand contact with industry through talks from industrial representatives. The dissertation project may be in collaboration with industry, providing real-world practical experience.
The MSc in Computing for Financial Markets will significantly enhance the employment prospects of students. Career prospects for computing postgraduates are excellent and are likely to remain so in the future. Stirling computing graduates have a good track record in finding well paid jobs. Previous students have been very successful in obtaining suitable employment in a considerable diversity of posts - some with small companies, others with major international organisations, as well as with Local Authority and Government bodies.