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You are here Programmes > Masters Programmes > MSc in Finance

Alternative Investments

Timetable and Modules

 
Michaelmas Term
Hilary Term
Trinity Term
International Financial Statement Analysis Advanced Statement Analysis Dissertation
Corporate Finance Portfolio and Wealth Management  
Derivatives Choice of four electives  
Econometrics    
Credit and Fixed Income Instruments    
Investment Theory    


Electives (choose 4)

NB - Timetable and modules are subject to change.

Module Descriptions

Finance Research Project
The Finance Research Project is one of the elements of the degree that really differentiates it. The goal is for each student to produce a real-world piece of financial analysis. To do this, students must put into practice the portfolio of skills that are taught in the modules. The project is mentored by one of our academic or professional staff on a one-on-one basis, and many of our graduates find that this project segues them into the career of their choice, by acting as a calling card to interested employers. Recent topics researched in depth range from crytocurrencies, to peer-to-peer lending, to the game theoretical foundations of 17th century trading clubs in Amsterdam.

Credit and Fixed Income Analysis
Starting from the perspective of the difference between a fixed income and other asset class, the module examines a number of perspectives. We derive a consistent pricing mechanism for the general class of fixed income (bond) assets; we then examine issue such as bonds with embedded derivatives, bonds with special provisions, bonds with equity like characteristics and other forms of bonds. The characteristics of the Sukuk market will also be analysed. Credit derivatives are examined from the perspective of their use in hedging, and we examine bond portfolio and bond refinancing issues.
On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Describe and differentiate the various types of credit and fixed income instruments
  • Explain the risks related to these investment vehicles and how to manage them
  • Evaluate various types of bonds and assess the factors affecting their price
  • Describe the main types of asset backed securities
  • Explain the main fixed income derivatives and their use
  • Differentiate the various credit instruments
  • Explain the main credit derivatives and their use
  • Contrast Sukuk with bonds

Corporate Finance
Corporate finance concerns itself with three main issues: how corporations choose investments (real and financial) using the principles of capital budgeting, how corporations choose to raise capital (in particular the choice of a mixture of debt and equity securities) and how they then choose to redistribute any surplus earned by the deployment of these capital resources (dividend decisions). At the heart of corporate finance is the concept of the cost of capital, an area that despite several decades of research, at least three Nobel prizes and thousands of research papers is still at one and the same time a simple concept and one that is exceedingly difficult to operationalise.
On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Construct spreadsheet models of the main issues facing a corporate entity in its decisions on corporate finance
  • Evaluate and calculate a company, division or unit cost of capita, including the underlying elements
  • Evaluate and propose alternative capital structures and dividend policies for corporate entities
  • Utilise the tools of investment appraisal to suggest a capital investment process.

International Financial Statement Analysis
The module explores all the sections of companies’ annual report. The main emphasis is on the analysis and interpretation of basic financial statements. It also highlights the important contribution of narrative reports in carrying out a financial analysis and how the abuse of accounting flexibility affects those statements and the analysis of financial statement relationships.
On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Understand the fundamentals of accountancy and finance and the importance of finance in adding value to an enterprise
  • Understand and analyse the 5 main components of a company’s Annual Report
  • Identify useful accounting information in assessing a firm’s financial performance over time and/or in comparison with competitors.
  • Assess the effect of various accounting standards and policy choices on financial statements and on their analysis.
  • Use appropriate techniques to make adjustments to reported figures to allow comparability between companies availing of different accounting policies and estimates.
  • Apply financial analysis techniques adopted by the professional world (eg. Ratio analysis) to real world financial statements to assess a company’s past performance, current financial position and likely future performance under a range of scenarios.
  • Provide an informed opinion regarding a company’s current economic position, possible issues and its valuation.
  • Learn tools to improve financial decision making in businesses.

Derivatives
This module examines the primary types of derivatives (forwards, futures, options and swaps), shows how they are used to achieve various hedging and speculating objectives, outlines a framework for pricing derivatives and studies several applications of derivative pricing techniques outside derivative markets.
On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Provide an understanding of derivatives and introduce the analytics of derivative valuation
  • Demonstrate how to value forward, futures, swaps and options
  • Describe and appraise how derivatives can be used to achieve various hedging and speculative strategies
  • Discuss various types of derivatives such as options on stock indices and currencies, futures options and exotic options
  • Evaluate previous derivative mishaps and what we can learn from them

Econometrics
An important element of this module will be the provision of the ability to apply cross sectional, panel and time series analysis as they are used in portfolio management. It introduces the students to modern techniques in modelling financial returns, volatilities and correlations. The students will be introduced to ARCH/ GARCH models, dynamic conditional correlation models, copulas and Value at Risk estimation.
Having successfully completed this module, you should be:
• Able to understand the classical model and its limitations.
• Comfortable with time series techniques such as ARCH/GARCH and stationarity.
• Aware of choice models.
• Comfortable with introductory material in relation to panel data techniques.
• Able to generate and interpret EVIEWS output.
• More knowledgeable about the role of econometrics in research.
• Finding journal article more user friendly.

Advanced Statement Analysis
The module contains both practical and theoretical elements. It will encourage a critical consideration of the concepts and practises pertaining to financial statement analysis, with a focus on enabling optimal decision making by various user groups. Related topics to be considered include a critique of accounting quality, together with an appraisal of contemporary developments in financial reporting.
On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Prepare and articulate financial accounts for analytical purposes, encompassing appropriate distinctions for operating and financial items.
  • Critically assess the quality and sustainability of corporate growth, with particular emphasis on Value creation.
  • Develop reliable and realistic forecasts informed by both strategic and financial statement analysis.
  • Formulate corporate valuations based on present value approaches, multiples, and the liquidation approach.
  • Conduct a credit analysis based on both fundamentals and statistical analysis.
  • Evaluate and challenge the quality of information in financial reports, with particular emphasis on ‘red flags’ contained therein.

ELECTIVES

Portfolio and Wealth Management
Wealth management examines the investment decision making challenges which face investors, both institutional and individual, in the current global investment landscape. The course assesses the practical challenges and behavioural of these entities as they pertain to investment management, portfolio execution, financial and long term estate planning. A focus on cross generational wealth planning is also central to the course.

On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Describe and understand the key parts of the wealth management process, from individual investment planning to institutional investment planning
  • Design and evaluate strategies for managing institutional and high net worth individual wealth
  • Evaluate and recommend the most suited wealth management strategy for a range of potential scenarios
  • Understand the risks in implementation and execution of wealth management strategies 

International Finance
This module describes and analyses the operations of the main international financial institutions and markets, it demonstrates the essential elements of international risk management, and it provides practical examples of managing risk
On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Understand the evolution of the current international monetary systems and the role of the main international financial institutions.
  • Critically appraise the extent to which the theories of exchange rate determination explain exchange rate movements in today's globalised economy.
  • Compare, contrast and evaluate the main parity relationships in international finance.
  • Understand the role of derivative instruments in managing international financial risk, and evaluate alternative approaches to international financial risk management within the firm
  • Appraise the benefits of international portfolio investment

Alternative Investments
This module provides the student with an overview of the main characteristics and portfolio desirability of
alternative investments a set of investment classes often overlooked. Many portfolios contain alternative investments, which are typically large, illiquid and complex. In addition to real estate, other major classes include commodities, private equity, and hedge funds.
On the successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:

  • Characterize the main elements that distinguish alternative investments from stocks and bonds
  • Suggest ways in which investors can access these investment vehicles and include them in an appropriate asset allocation
  • Evaluate the performance of alternative investment vehicles
  • Juxtapose these alternatives against traditional investments
  • Examine companies involved in the M&A process and bankruptcies.

Treasury and Asset Liability Management
The aim of this module is to gain an understanding of the ways in which corporations manage financial
risks, funding and liquidity. The module is made up of two parts. The first part focuses on key functions of
treasury departments in industrial companies: hedging of commodity and exchange rate risks as well as
debt financing. The second part examines how banks manage liquidity and interest rate risk arising from their intermediation activities.

Having successfully completed this module, the student should be able to:

  • Understand the role of treasury and identify the various risks as well as appropriate treasury policies and controls
  • Understand how derivatives can be used to hedge foreign exchange and commodity risks
  • Understand the credit rating process and its determinants
  • Appreciate why banks are especially vulnerable to liquidity risk and learn how to manage this risk
  • Recognise that banks’ net interest margin is exposed to many risks and learn how banks manage interest rate risk in the banking book

Venture Capital
Learning where and how to source the initial investment made into an innovation led company is a
major undertaking. In this module we examine this issue from the perspective of the prospective funder
and from the entrepreneurs’ side. We begin with an overview of the various elements of the capital
funding process, moving onto venture and angel capital specifically. We examine these as investments
and also as processes, drawing out the essential elements into a strategic framework. We apply this
learning to specific real projects seeking to secure investment. We analyse the investment proposition in
the real project and make a recommendation on investment in it. We examine how state policies assist the process.

On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Describe the typical process of Venture Capital investment from seed stage to exit, or failure. The student will also understand how the capital is collected by a venture fund, what returns on investment are required and the international record of such funds over the past thirty years.
  • Analyse the investment required by high-tech startups, and by fast growing companies, and their compatibility with the investment policies of individual funds.
  • Create a presentation to a venture capital fund on behalf of an entrepreneurial new venture which is matched to the investors' needs, as well as to the new venture's requirements for capital.
  • Assess the opportunity created by a venture capital fund through the use of its capital and nonfinancial assistance (for example networks, channels to market,) and propose the basis of a term
    sheet for investment which protects the investors.
  • Source money for projects from VC funds and from private equity, and also how to invest in high risk / high reward projects.
  • Evaluate national policies for supporting venture capital and compare

Applied Investment Management and Trading

The main objective of the course is to introduce the students to a structured understanding of investment decisions and trading strategies, and provide them with the introductory experience in trading and strategy development and execution. Topics covered will include introduction to the basic concepts of factors selection, quantitative approach to portfolio structuring and investment decisions, to algorithmic approach to investment management. Throughout the course, we will study actual trading models and algorithms and will use practical component of the course to develop hands on experience in quantitative and algorithmic trading.
On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Develop investable ideas and investment strategy based on these ideas;
  • Enable an actual investment strategy consistent trade according to best execution principles;
  • Assess and optimise cost of trade entry and identify, assess and manage associated risks;
  • Test strategy and trade executions for performance, execution costs, and trade execution related risks, based on specific performance and risk analytics metrics used in active investment management;
  • Apply programming and platform knowledge to developing, testing and executing basic strategies;
  • Deploy systemic thinking, based on academic and practical/applied research foundations, to structure investment and trading strategies based on data flows;
  • Understand how various portfolio and trading/trade execution strategies form the basis of the modern investment markets;
  • Be able to engage in actual online trading and install, test and run a live online trading platform;
  • Format and select key charts to facilitate markets analysis; use basic technical analysis tools and Expert Advisors platform to map core indicators;
  • Execute investment strategies in a live market.

The Politics of Public Money
This course describes how the Irish Government funds public services from tax revenues and public borrowing. It outlines the traditional annual estimates process and negotiations between the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the line Departments. This system, established since the 1920s, has been evolving since 1973, when Ireland joined the European Union, and significantly with our membership of the single currency in 2000. Political factors and forces both National and European inform this entire process. The journey, from shaping nation budgets to participating in Ministerial meetings of Ecofin is explored so as to better understand the National Politics of Public Money in Ireland

Having successfully completed this module the student should be able to:

  • Comprehensively, understand the Irish budgetary process from a domestic perspective.
  • Be able to anticipate the impact of various changes, both national and international, on the delivery of that Budget at both social and economic levels.
  • Relate the European Budgetary cycle and the role of the various institutions, both at national and European level, to economic activity.
  • Have a knowledge of the evolution of the Euro, to its present stage and an understanding of the changes that may affect global currencies in the 21st Century.

Energy Finance and Trading
This module starts with an overview of energy finance and trading by first covering the current energy outlook, introduction to the oil and gas industry, and industry structure and terminology. After covering financial statement analysis of oil and gas companies, the module turns to capital budgeting and risk analysis of energy projects. In the remainder of the module, energy derivatives, energy risk management, and energy trading is discussed and applied to problems and situations.

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:

  • Discuss basic knowledge, terminology, industry structure, supply and demand issues, and related concepts about the “energy value chain”.
  • Analyze the financial statements of oil and gas companies including energy ratio analysis.
  • Conduct capital budgeting and risk analysis in the oil and gas industry.
  • Describe strategies that energy firms apply during challenging times.
  • Identify energy derivatives markets around the world.
  • Apply energy risk management techniques.
  • Investigate energy trading strategies in the industry.

Financial Markets and Institutions
In this module we will discuss the role of a well-functioning financial system. The main types of financial institutions and financial markets are described.  We will then cover the role of national and supranational financial institutions, and their involvement in recent events in financial markets.  We will look at a number of financial crises that have occurred in recent decades, their causes and their effects.  We will then examine the role of regulation and the regulatory changes that have been implemented to attempt to prevent future crises.

Having successfully completed this module, the student should be able to:

  • Understand the role of the financial system and its importance to a well-functioning economy.
  • Describe the main financial assets and the markets in which they are traded.
  • Understand the role of the main financial institutions and the purpose they are designed to serve.
  • Describe some of the financial crises that have occurred, their causes and effects and the regulation that has been put in place to try to prevent future crises

Financial Regulation and Governance
This module had been designed to introduce students to several topics in the area of financial regulation and corporate governance. The first part of the course will discuss theoretical governance frameworks and provide students with the opportunity to undertake an in-depth comparative and contextual study of the differences between Anglo-American, European and Asian governance practises. The second part of the course focuses on the current regulatory framework in Ireland and thoroughly examines the statutes and common law that apply to the directors of Irish companies. Irish and international financial regulation will be discussed and attention will be given to the procedures companies can implement to mitigate legal exposure.

Having successfully completed this module, the student should be able to:

  • Evaluate differences in corporate governance frameworks across the globe
  • Examine board composition and the importance of board diversity
  • Understand the important roles and responsibilities of managers, committees and board of directors
  • Understand the statutes and common laws applicable to Irish directors
  • Critically assess corporate governance failures and recommend possible changes to future governance codes and financial regulations
  • Examine the role of regulatory and standard setting authorities
  • Critically assess and evaluate important Irish and European financial regulations
  • Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the financial crisis, discuss current trends in financial regulation and analyse how companies can mitigate legal exposure.

Panel and Cross Sectional Data Analysis 
This module has two broad objectives: (1) To enhance students’ state-of-the-art knowledge on advanced econometrics and application in a rapidly growing field of study – the panel data – which combines features of both cross-sectional and time series data within single estimation framework. (2) To enrich students’ knowledge in terms of both theory and application on the study of panel data under alternative estimation environment, using semi-parametric and non-parametric methods.

Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: 

  • Econometric models of panel data
  • The importance of heterogeneity in empirical applications where data combine features of both temporal and cross-sectional units.
  • Competence in using an econometric software package (STATA, EVIEWS and/or R)
  • Undertake rich analysis financial and economic data
  • Evaluate model performances based on parametric, semi-parametric and non-parametric methods which would lend realistic approximations to complex financial and economic problems.
  • Interpret statistical output
  • Relate real life financial/economic data to strategic decision making
  • Critically evaluate statistical models and forecasting tools 
  • Analyse financial/economic data
  • Develop quantitative models

Enterprise Risk Management
The module starts with an overview of enterprise risk management and how risk management contributes to firm value. A general framework for how to use risk management to create value is presented and the course covers the tools and techniques of enterprise risk management. After a discussion of types of risk, the module turns to the implementation issues of enterprise-wide risk management, showing how to aggregate risks across the firm and how to use a firm-wide risk measure to make various corporate decisions and to evaluate performance within the firm.

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:

  • Discuss the history and foundation concepts that expand traditional risk management into an ERM structure.
  • Examine the benefits and best practices of ERM.
  • Compare and contrast the importance of management, culture, and control as it relates to ERM and the problems associated with implementation.
  • Investigate ERM tools and techniques.
  • Identify and evaluate the types of risk as they relate to ERM.
  • Evaluate various facets of the ERM process as they apply to real world applications.
  • Analyse case studies to bridge the gap between the theory and practice of ERM.

Investment Theory
The module explores the basic foundations of investment choices, investors' behaviour and underlying theoretical models of investment returns, and risk returns interactions in broadly defined equity, alternative investments and fixed income investment markets.
On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Identify, critically evaluate and synthesise in substantive theories, frameworks and models, both quantitative and qualitative, which are used in the investment/portfolio management
  • Analyse and calculate the value of stocks, bonds, and other financial assets
  • Communicate effectively in oral and written modes in professional settings
  • Use appropriate tools in analysing, solving and communicating a variety of problems in measuring investment performance with respects to various benchmarks
  • Comprehend forces that support investment decisions
  • Create a portfolio with respect to return/risk preferences
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the ethical dimensions of management and research in both the public and private sectors of society and to apply this knowledge effectively in management and research contexts
  • Compare risk averse business decisions with investors’ real world investment patterns
  • Perform basic analysis of financial markets
  • Demonstrate flexibility, adaptability and independence in order to engage productively with a changing social, cultural and technological environment
  • Make investment decisions by participating in an investment club and by trading on Stocktrak