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Finance (MSc)

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Course overview

You will be provided with rigorous training in the analysis of issues in finance and corporate policy while improving your analytical and technical expertise. The programme is ideal for those whose career objectives lie broadly with the financial services and banking sectors. You will have the opportunity to gain an in depth grounding with core courses such as Foundations in Finance, Corporate Finance and Quantitative Methods in Finance, and subsequently tailor your programme to match your end goals through the range of optional courses on offer. These include Fixed Income Securities and Derivatives, Investment and Portfolio Management and Decision Theory and Behaviour amongst others.

You will be taught by a top-ranking Department of Economics with expertise in a broad range of areas, including people who have worked and are still working in the finance industry in the broad areas of asset allocation and risk, as well as algorithmic trading. 

With a relatively small intake each year you will benefit from a strong sense of group identity and will enjoy close contact with the academic staff of the department. The course director and course coordinators serve as your personal advisors up until the spring, when you will then be assigned a personal dissertation supervisor. 

The MSc Finance is an excellent preparation both for  a career in the financial services, banking and business sectors and policy making, as well further academic study.

Key facts

Key facts about the course
Qualification Master of Science
Duration 1 year full time
Department and Faculty Economics, Management, Economics and Law
Partner institution(s) --
Course director Professor Alessio Sancetta
Contact for more information


+44(1784) 443891 (Postgraduate Administrator)

Fees / funding

Please visit the Fees and funding pages for the latest information about tuition fees and the different sources of funding which may be available to you.

How to apply

Applications for entry to all our full-time postgraduate degrees can be made online.

Further information on making an application, including the documentation that you will need to submit with the application is available in the How to apply section of this site.

If you are interested in applying to Royal Holloway, why not arrange a visit to our campus to see for yourself what academic and student life is like here. More information on arranging visits is available on our Open days pages.


Entry requirements

Entry criteria:

As a minimum an Upper Second Class (2:1) UK Honours Degree in Economics, Management, Mathematics or other maths-based disciplines

Relevant professional qualifications and relevant experience in an associated area.

English language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall with 6.5 in writing and a minimum of 6.0 in all other subscores. For equivalencies, please see here

Students with a good undergraduate degree in a subject other than Economics should apply for our MSc Economics Two Year programme

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

Why choose this course?

  • The course offers an excellent opportunity to get a strong grounding in core areas of Finance and to specialise your knowledge further through the optional courses on offer.
  • You will be taught by academics who produce world leading research some of whom are also currently working in the Finance and Banking sectors. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise we were ranked among the top 10 Economics Departments in the UK
  • Students attend a two week pre-sessional quantitative methods course to ensure they are in a good position to start this challenging Masters courses
  • The Department of Economics at Royal Holloway is unique in being a young department, created in 1995, in an established and prestigious college of the University of London.
  • Our courses are small and select, thus ensuring that you will receive individual attention from the academic staff.

Department research and industry highlights

Economics is among the top departments in the UK for Research Excellence. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 80% of the Department's research submitted was ranked as world-leading or internationally excellent (rated 3* and 4*).

A recent analysis of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) shows that the Economics Department at Royal Holloway is ranked 8th best department in the UK for publications. The study by Jim Taylor and Ian Walker provides further insight into the research standing of UK economics departments. Previous rankings from the data already showed the Department in the top 10 in the UK.

We run a weekly Internal Seminar which provides a lively forum for work at an early stage of development.  Our External Seminar Series runs weekly during term and during the last academic year, welcomed over 20 external speakers from prominent places. Invitees are the usual mixture of established names and newer entrants to the profession thought to be doing exciting work. Our Discussion Paper Series provides a forum for journal-ready work.

Course content and structure

You will study five core course units and, in addition, a mathematics refresher course and a dissertation, as well as choosing two elective course units.


Core course units:

Pre-sessional mathematics refresher course
All students attend the compulsory pre-sessional mathematics refresher course, which runs for 2 weeks in September, before the start of term.  There are no additional fees for this course however students will need to pay for accommodation for the period of this course.

Corporate Finance
You will be introduced to the techniques of financial analysis and their applications to corporate finance. The concepts developed form the foundation of most elective finance course units. You will learn about the time value of money and the net present value rule, how to value financial assets, capital budgeting decisions, uncertainty and the risk-return trade-off and corporate governance.

Quantitative Methods in Finance
This course unit will introduce you to mathematical statistics and theories that are applied in financial econometrics. The second half of the unit concerns the analysis of time series data including ARMA models, the analysis of non-stationary time series data, cointegration analysis, vector autoregressive models, modelling volatility in asset returns, forecasting and bootstrapping.

Foundations of Finance
The course unit in finance will expose you to the structure of the financial markets, the instruments traded and the participants. You will be provided with the necessary tools with which to analyse how the financial markets function and how problems arise from their operations.

Research Methods
While conducting research sounds like an easy task, it can present difficulties. This unit aims to help you avoid such traps and to assist you in developing strong research skills so that you can conduct an efficient piece of research at the end of your degree.

The dissertation gives you the opportunity to analyse an economics issue in depth. You will be assigned a dissertation supervisor and, by the end of March, will submit a preliminary dissertation report that contains a clear statement of the problem under consideration, the structure of the project and the research methods that are going to be applied. The dissertation is then written over the summer.

Elective course units:

Fixed Income Securities and Derivatives
You will gain an introduction to the alternative forms of financial assets that are traded in addition to stocks. Fixed income securities are bonds, bills and notes that offer a certain stream of income to holders. Derivatives are contingent and non-contingent claims on financial assets and are widely used for hedging risk. You will learn how to price these assets, and how to use them effectively in managing portfolios and hedging risk.

Empirical Finance
The broad aims of this unit are to give you advanced-level training in evaluation of empirical models in finance. It will enable you to apply both quantitative techniques and qualitative methods, learnt elsewhere, to test theories and get acquainted with the existing literature in the field of finance.

Investment and Portfolio Management
Underlying theory and empirical evidence in portfolio management will familiarise you with its practice in the finance sector. You will acquire an understanding of how funds are allocated when constructing a portfolio.

Decision Theory and Behaviour
This course unit will deepen your knowledge of rational decision making through the exploration of behavioural models, their formalization and their scope, including applications to finance. You will also become familiarized with both theoretical and experimental methods for research in decision theory and behavioural economics.

Public Economics
Public Economics is concerned with the study of the effects of government policy and the design of optimal policies. You will assess the implications of basic welfare economics in public policy. A number of recent research areas in public economics are then discussed including income taxation, tax evasion, externalities and social security.

Political Economy
This course will provide an advanced treatment of the tools used in political economy to tackle some major questions faced by public sector economists. It will in particular focus on the modelling of voters and politicians’ behaviours to address the role played by incentives and constraints faced by politicians when choosing public policies. The effect of different forms of institutional arrangements on public decision making and electoral accountability will be analysed from both a theoretical and empirical perspective.

View the full course specification for Finance (MSc) in the Programme Specification Repository


Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, examinations and a dissertation.

Employability & career opportunities

Our graduates are highly employable and, in recent years, have entered many different economics-related areas, including careers as economists, financial analysts, accountants, bankers, journalists and business analysts. Our graduates are currently working for firms such as Accenture, TNS, RBS, Deloitte, and Baker and McKenzie. At the same time, this course also equips you with a solid foundation for continued PhD studies. Your careers ambitions are supported by our College Careers Service, located right next door to the economics department. They offer application and interview coaching, career strategy discussions, and the opportunity to network with major finance employers on campus. Our careers service is provided by the Careers Group, the main provider of graduate recruitment services in London. Thus, you will have additional access to a wealth of presentations and networking opportunities which make the most of London’s financial centre. 

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