Programme specification

This programme specification is aimed at prospective students and represents the most current course structure.


Programme: Mathematics and Finance
Awarding body: University of Essex
Teaching institution: University of Essex
Department: Mathematical Sciences
Final award: MSC
NQF Level of Qualification: Master
Full / Part Time Full-time
QAA Benchmark Group: None
JACS code: GN13
Publication date: 24/10/2012
Admission criteria:
if the applicant does not meet the specified criteria, he or she may discuss the application with the Head of Undergraduate or Head of Postgraduate admissions.
BSc degree, of Upper Second class standard or above, in Mathematics or a related subject (or an equivalent qualification). Knowledge of a computer programming language would be an advantage, but is not essential. Language requirements: IELTS 6.0 or TOEFL 540 (200) or comparable.


This section provides a concise overview of the programme of study, identifying the aims, learning outcomes and the corresponding methods of learning, teaching and assessment.

Programme: MSC Mathematics and Finance

Programme aims:

To offer students the opportunity to study mathematics and finance to an advanced level within an environment informed by current research. To provide students with advanced training that will be of use in a career as a mathematician or finance agent. To provide students with training in the preparation of reports involving mathematical material, including correct referencing, appropriate layout and style. To enhance the transferable skills of students (including IT, presentation skills, problem solving abilities, numeracy and their ability to efficiently retrieve information and use it in an effective manner). To provide students with a research-type experience that will aid them in their approach to further research activity. To provide students with information that will help them to make an informed judgement as to the appropriate methods to employ when analysing a mathematics or finance problem.

Programme Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

expand paragraph   A: Knowledge and Understanding

A1 : A range of ideas concerning Mathematics and Finance, including methods appropriate in specialized applications and some knowledge of relevant probabilistic/statistical/computing ideas.
A2 : How to formulate algorithms to solve problems.
A3 : Some of the ways in which apparently disparate parts of the subject may interconnect.
A4 : Analyse a given problem and select the most appropriate methods for its solution.

expand paragraph   B: Intellectual/Cognitive Skills

B1 : Analyse a mass of information and carry out an appropriate analysis of the problem material.
B2 : Express a problem in mathematical terms and carry out an appropriate analysis.
B3 : Reason critically and interpret information in a manner that can be communicated effectively.
B4 : Integrate and link information across course components.
B5 : Under guidance of a supervisor, plan and carry out a piece of research and present the results in a coherent fashion.

expand paragraph   C: Practical Skills

C1 : Model problems in Finance using relevant mathematical tools.
C2 : Construct and use algorithms.
C3 : Use a mathematical word-processing package.
C4 : Make an effective literature search.
C5 : Prepare a technical report.
C6 : Give a presentation and defend their ideas in an interview.

expand paragraph   D: Key Skills

Communication:  D1 : Write clearly and effectively
IT Skills:  D2 : Enhance existing numerical ability
Numeracy:  D3 : Choose the appropriate method of inquiry in order to address a range of practical and theoretical problems.
Problem Solving:  D4 : Learn from feedback and respond appropriately and effectively to supervision and guidance
Working with Others:  D5 : Work pragmatically to meet deadlines.

Learning, Teaching & Assessment Methods or Strategies for the following:

expand paragraph   A: Knowledge and Understanding

Learning Methods

A1-A3 are principally acquired through the coherent programmes of lectures, exercises and problem classes. These are supplemented, where appropriate, by the use of computers, computer packages, textbooks, handouts and on-line material.

In most modules there is regular set work. This work is marked and this process informs the course teacher of common difficulties that require extra attention during the subsequent problem classes.

A4 is principally acquired through the preparation of an essay and a thesis on specialized topics. During the production of their written work, students are expected to extend and enhance the basic module material concerning internet searching and the production of mathematical texts. The research guidance during the summer is a critical aspect of this training.

Assessment Methods

Knowledge and understanding are assessed through coursework, examinations, essays and the summer dissertation.

expand paragraph   B: Intellectual/Cognitive Skills

Learning Methods

B1-B3 These skills are developed through the regular coursework exercises. In seeking to answer these exercises students become accustomed to identifying key facts in a body of information. The problems classes provide back-up as required.

B4-B5 These skills are initiated during the course of the preparation of the essay and are further developed during the course of the summer project.

Assessment Methods

The level of attainment of these skills is assessed through coursework, the summer examinations, and through examination of the summer project.

expand paragraph   C: Practical Skills

Learning Methods

C1-C2 are developed through the programme of lectures, regular exercises and computer work.

C3-C5 are developed during the course of the preparation of the essay and the thesis.

C5-C6 are developed in MA902.

Assessment Methods

C1-C2 is assessed by the regular coursework and examinations.

C3 is assessed in this way and also by any computer output that forms part of the summer project.

C4-C6 are assessed through the MA902 essay and summer thesis.

expand paragraph   D: Key Skills

Learning Methods

D1 is promoted by the supervisor of the essay and thesis work and by class teachers' feedback on written solutions to problems.

D2 is a natural consequence of courses with high numeric content.

D3 is a consequence of the coursework, problems classes, lectures and laboratory work.

D4-D5 result from a tightly timetabled course of lectures and submission dates that require the student to effectively organise time to meet deadlines.

Assessment Methods

Key skills are assessed throughout the degree via coursework, examinations, the essay and the summer project.


Please refer to your option list as issued by the department where necessary, and view module details in the module directory.

Additional notes on module choices:

Students are strongly advised to consider the balance of their workload across the autumn and spring terms when selecting their optional modules. Students must have at least 120 credits from the taught modules before proceeding to their dissertation.

expand paragraph   Components

Component No.Module CodeModule TitleStatus in AwardStatus in PG DiplomaStatus in PG Certificate
02BE356-7-SPFinancial ModellingCompulsory
03BE953-7-AUResearch Methods in Finance: Empirical Methods in FinanceCompulsory
04OPTION FROM LIST (15 / 20 CREDITS)Compulsory with Options
05MA311-7-SPMathematics of PortfoliosCompulsory
06MA902-7-SPResearch MethodsCore
07OPTION FROM LIST (15 / 20 CREDITS)Optional
08OPTION FROM LIST (15 / 20 CREDITS)Optional


Rules of assessment are here:

Assessment information for individual modules can be found on the Module Directory at

See also: details of individual modules in the module directory and links to course materials and resources in the Online Resource Bank.

External Examiner Information

  • Name: Dr Prakash Patil
  • Institution: The University of Birmingham
  • Academic Role: Reader in Statistics


The University of Essex Programme Specifications Catalogue is updated annually in April/May. The specifications represent the most current course structures and may be subject to review and change. Should you have any queries about the Catalogue's pages, please contact the Course Records Team, Systems Administration Office, Academic Section; email: crt (non Essex users should add