Considering a career in finance? Got a head for numbers and a desire to work in a fast-paced industry but don’t know where to start? Don’t panic, there’s a Masters degree in finance from Essex Business School with your name on it.

For this article, we interviewed the finance Masters course leaders and prominent members of the Finance Group at Essex. They told us what makes our finance Masters degrees unique and why Essex Business School is a leading place of study for those looking to launch their career in finance.

Welcome to finance at Essex Business School

“Essex has one of the largest groups of finance academics in the UK, providing a wide range of courses in banking, finance, investments, risk management and financial econometrics.

Among many other topics, our experts will explain the forecasting of share prices, managing investment portfolios, the role of financial technology and big data, factors behind market booms and crashes, and why the psychological behaviour of investors is so important.

In today’s financial landscape, where understanding how firms can be financed has perhaps never been so important, our degrees prepare students for successful careers in a multitude of finance-related specialisms including those in investment and retail banking, fund management, quantitative analysis, financial engineering, sustainable finance, hedge funds, private equity and corporate finance.

Supporting this excellent education, our cutting-edge Business School facilities include a virtual trading floor and first-class learning and careers advice.

We look forward to welcoming you to the University of Essex!” - Neil Kellard, Acting Dean of Essex Business School and Professor of Finance

Getting started

If you’re not sure where to start, then there’s some good news for you from Essex: we are home to the largest Finance Group in the UK. OK, but what does that mean? It means that regardless of which finance Masters you choose, you will benefit from the widest range of financial theory expertise in the country.

So, even if you choose one of our less specialised courses, you will still benefit from the extensive expertise of your professors and lecturers. Plus you’ll have a huge range of specialist modules to choose from to help make your Masters in finance truly unique.

We offer state-of-the-art facilities for practising trading, portfolio management and asset pricing, as well as testing out financial theory on our virtual trading floor which comes fully equipped with 12 Bloomberg terminals.

So, which Masters in Finance is the right one for you:

MSc Finance or MRes Finance?

Our MSc and MRes Finance Masters follow the same core programme of study, with one exception: while MSc Finance can prepare you for a huge range of future careers, MRes Finance is designed to allow you to move straight into a research degree in finance, such as a PhD.

If you are sure that the future you want lies in academia or further research in the field of finance, then MRes Finance is the perfect choice for you.

If you want a solid base in finance for a career in any aspect of the finance sector, then look no further than our flagship programme, MSc Finance.

Don’t just take our word for it; Dr Nikos Vlastakis, Senior Lecturer in Finance, told us why students choose MSc Finance:

“When someone says: ‘I want to do finance but I’m not sure what part of the finance industry I want to go into, I just want a good, solid base in finance’, then I always tell them that MSc Finance is perfect for them. If they don’t have a solid base in finance but want one, then MSc Finance will give them that.

Our ideal student has graduated with either a finance or economics background, or they have any kind of engineering background with some economics or finance content. We are looking for students who have enough finance and quantitative background to tackle the modules that they need to pass.”

Specialist Masters degrees in finance

Don’t be put off by the word ‘Specialist’! A specialism in finance can help you to explore your true interests and even help you achieve the highest wage brackets in the finance sector.

The variety of specialisms among members of the Essex Finance Group means that we have been able to develop a suite of specialist degrees which will give you the training and skills to apply for the most sought after roles within the finance sector.

Specialisms in finance at Essex include:

MSc Finance and Data Analytics

Data Analysts with a background in finance are hugely valuable as these are the people who see the bigger picture and can prove it to investors.

Core finance modules give you the solid base you need to move into any role in finance but the data analytics specialism teaches you how to recognise trends in data streams beyond just what you can access from a Bloomberg financial data terminal.

Dr Thanos Verousis, Senior Lecturer in Finance and course leader for MSc Finance and Data Analytics, works in a field of finance called financial market microstructure which, according to Thanos, is: “effectively big data analytics. So, I look at the financial markets in the finest detail in a way which involves massive data sets and I combine that with behavioural finance and stock herding.”

Learning data analytics from experts like Thanos means that you will be working with multiple data streams from day one and applying them to financial market analysis. Expect to be using non-traditional data streams including, search engine and social media data, to determine market reactions and consumer behaviour in relation to investment opportunities.

MSc Financial Technology

If you are looking to work in parts of the financial services sector that are concerned with developing and growing new technologies for use in finance, then MSc Financial Technology is the right specialism for you.

FinTech, as it is often called in the sector, is a rapidly growing discipline as we move to become more technologically agile as a sector and as a society. If end-users are using advanced technology to action micro-transactions, check trades and process their business banking, it only makes sense that the finance industry would develop even more highly advanced methods of control, oversight and security.

So, if you are fascinated by blockchain technologies, P2P lending, artificial intelligence and have a good head for financial theory, MSc Financial Technology might be a fascinating specialism for you to explore.

The University of Essex also offers variants of MSc Financial Technology in Computer Science and Economics for those who are looking for specialised routes in FinTech that cover different skillsets.

MSc Finance and Global Trading

If you are a real go-getter who thrives under pressure and has a desire to be the best in your field, attracting the highest salaries in the finance sector, then MSc Finance and Global Trading could be the Masters to really launch your career.

There’s no hiding from the fact that traders tend to be the most ruthless decision-makers in the finance sector. You have to be confident in your abilities and decisions and, more importantly, you have to be right.

So, how do you gain that level of confidence? Well, some of it has to be natural. A career as a trader is not for the faint-hearted, but some of that confidence has to come from a solid financial background and a firm education in trading and investments.

Dr Thanos Triantafyllou, Lecturer in Finance and former Risk Manager with EY, teaches on the MSc Finance and Global Trading and explains the difference between a risk manager and a trader:

“What we try to do in this course is to focus on what is the typical job of the trader, in financial engineering we focus on how to combat risk and the day-to-day management of risk; while the trader is the one who earns the money, the risk manager is the one who tries not to lose money. One is the most prudent and the other is the most aggressive. The ones who go for Global Trading are the ones who want the highest paid jobs in finance, which is a trader.”

MSc Financial Engineering and Risk Management

And that brings us nicely on to MSc Financial Engineering and Risk Management. This specialist Masters degree focuses on the application of financial theory to managing the risk around investments and developing models to help mitigate risk.

We are looking for students who are dually interested in finance and programming. We see a lot of students come on to this Masters from a computer science or computer engineering background, as well as from a finance background, because they see the obvious link between programme engineering and the financial services sector. This Masters allows this type of student the opportunity to apply what they have already learned into a highly lucrative sector.

Risk managers work with traders, investors, bankers, analysts and programmers across the whole financial services sector and tend to have a very wide breadth of knowledge to allow them to implement measures and models to mitigate the risk of losing money.

This course takes an in-depth approach to asset pricing, financial modelling and machine learning while always focusing on risk management. The risk management element is where this course really differs from FinTech, which is far more focused on the actual technologies involved in transactions and investments.

But again, don’t just take our word for it! Daniel Castineyra graduated from MSc Financial Engineering and Risk Management in 2014 and is now a Risk Manager for Inter-American Development Bank:

“The professors have strong research backgrounds, but they are also great at teaching. My lecturers were always willing to answer any questions about my course, assignments or career advice. I now work at the Inter-American Development Bank, introducing Green Bonds to the Mexican market. My Masters equipped me with the skills I use in my current role, such as financial analysis, credit risk analysis, programming skills and statistical tools for cash flow and forecast models.”

MSc Banking and Finance

Unsurprisingly, MSc Banking and Finance is the course is for you if want to pursue a career in the banking industry!

Modern banking is the focus of this specialist course and you’ll explore everything from regulation, to mergers and acquisitions, to banking crises. You’ll need to have studied finance, economics or business as part of your first degree so you can really hit the ground running with this course.

Banking is a real area of expertise at Essex Business School and our academics have presented their research at the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve. So you can be confident that what you learn in the classroom will be what you need to know in the workplace.

We asked Professor Claudia Girardone, author of Introduction to Banking and Director of Research at Essex Business School, what makes Essex such a unique place to study banking and finance:

“If you are thinking of a career in the finance and banking sector, our Masters programme in banking and finance is the right choice.

At Essex we have strong expertise in empirical banking, behavioural finance and financial modelling. We teach our students with great passion and integrate both the theory and applied tools of modern banking and finance with intellectual and academic rigour.

This course will provide you an in-depth and updated knowledge of the functioning of banks and financial markets, and a comprehensive understanding of the global challenges facing the banking business, as well as the many opportunities ahead”.

MSc Finance and Investment

And finally, onto MSc Finance and Investment.

Firstly, if you’re considering a career as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) then this is the programme for you.

The University of Essex is a member of the CFA Institute University Affiliation Program. Our MSc Finance and Investment covers more than 70% of the CFA Programme Candidate Body of Knowledge. By the time you complete this course, you’ll be well on the way to becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

MSc Finance and Investment is also a great course to consider if you want really robust training in managing investment portfolios. This is a core skill required by a huge number of finance professionals so will set you up well for a variety of finance sector roles.

This course really aims to immerse you in the process of portfolio management and has a particular focus on the practical application of the concepts you’ll be learning about.

We asked MSc Finance and Investment student Van Dinh Tung why he chose this Masters:

“I chose this course because it combines complex financial theory with practical application. My assignments are based on real-life issues, so I’m hoping this will give me the competitive edge in the graduate jobs market.”

But this course isn’t just about seeing market transactions as an empirical science. You also need to be interested in how people react emotionally to markets, an area known as behavioural finance.

You’ll explore how psychological influences and biases affect the financial behaviours of investors and practitioners – and how these can lead to severe rises or falls in stock price.

How to apply

If you’ve explored all of your options and decided how best to progress with your finance career, then it’s time to apply!

You can apply for postgraduate courses online. But before you apply, we really advise that you check our information about necessary documents that we’ll ask you to provide as part of your application.

Generally this will include: a 500 word personal statement stating why you wish to study this course at Essex; English language test results (if required); transcripts of previous study, if these are in another language we may ask you to provide a translation (if you are a University of Essex student/graduate you will not need to provide transcripts); your current CV; and, references (if you don’t have these handy you can supply them at a later date).

Our preferred method of communication with applicants is by email, so make sure you apply with an email address that you check regularly as you will receive any offers or communication about your application from us via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.

Applying for an Essex Masters just got easier with our new fast-track application form.

We’ve made applying for an Essex Masters as straightforward as possible for our current students with our new fast-track application form, now live on your myEssex student portal.

Just let us know which Masters course you would like to start. You won’t need to provide a reference or any transcripts or certificates from your study at Essex.

It’s as simple as that!