Module ASB-4909:
Finance Dissertation

Module Facts

Run by Bangor Business School

60 Credits or 30 ECTS Credits

Semester 3

Organiser: Prof Owain ap Gwilym

Overall aims and purpose

To familiarise students with current research topics and research methodologies in the disciplines of banking, corporate finance or financial markets. To enable students to develop skills in critically reviewing academic research literature, in analysing financial datasets and in applying advanced quantitative methods and econometrics for a financial context.

Course content

All students on this module will have taken ASB4101/4601 Reseach Methods. The dissertation process will commence with a series of compulsory research workshops delivered each June by BBS academic staff. Each workshop will comprise at least six hours of contact time. These workshops will provide guidance for students to pursue readings, literature reviews, data analysis and the application of econometric techniques during the summer period (and during the autumn semester for January intake students). Depending on their MA/MSc degree programme, students will attend five of the following seminars: Banking: competition in banking; European Banking Union. Corporate Finance: event study methodology; dividend policy. Financial Markets: credit ratings research; high frequency data and algorithmic trading. Each student's dissertation will comprise four chapters based on the guidance provided in the workshops. Workshop content will vary somewhat from year to year in line with research developments and any changes in academic staff expertise.

Assessment Criteria


C- to C+ (50-59%) Work demonstrating an adequate attempt at acquiring and applying knowledge. Content: 1. Partial identification of the issues 2. Adequate understanding and use of appropriate conceptual frameworks, experience and facts; some errors 3. Some evidence of consulting source material 4. No originality 5. Insufficient relevance Structure: 1. Links parts together, but lacks a coherent structure 2. Clear, but limited, objectives 3. Does not always reach a conclusion 4. Weakened by inappropriate or inaccurate use of language


A- to A* (70%+) Work of excellent quality in every respect. Focused and comprehensive, with critical depth and insight. Representing a model answer at the top end of the range. Content: 1. Concise and comprehensive identification of the issues 2. Excellent standard of critical analysis using appropriate conceptual frameworks and/or applying relevant experience and facts 3. Comprehensive and excellent use, evaluation and synthesis of source material 4. Shows fresh thinking and originality 5. Wholly relevant Structure: 1. Well structured and logically developed 2. Exceptionally clear, relevant and attainable objectives 3. Clearly spelled out and relevant conclusions 4. Supported by a good range and appropriate use of language


B- to B+ (60-69%) Work demonstrating high level of analytical and applied competence on a broad range of factors. Free of major errors. Content: 1. Clear identification of the issues 2. High standard of critical analysis using appropriate conceptual frameworks and/or applying relevant experience and facts 3. Good evaluation and synthesis of source material 2 of 4 12 Feb 2018 4. Shows some fresh thinking and originality 5. Substantially relevant Structure: 1. Clearly structured and logically developed 2. Clear, relevant and attainable objectives 3. Relevant conclusions 4. Supported by an appropriate range and use of language

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an ability to apply advanced quantitative methods and econometric techniques in a financial context.

  2. Access and critically review literature relevant to a programme of empirical research.

  3. Demonstrate familiarity with previous and current theoretical and applied research across a range of core subjects in banking, corporate finance and financial markets.

  4. Articulate a convincing motivation for a programme of research on specific topics.

  5. Demonstrate competence and skills in accessing a range of financial databases.

  6. Effectively communicate findings of empirical research.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Finance Dissertation 100

Teaching and Learning Strategy

One-to-one supervision

Students will have opportunities to liaise with the BBS staff who have led the workshops in June.


A series of workshops delivered in June each year.

Private study

As for all postgraduate dissertations, the vast majority of the input involves independent study.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • skills in recording and summarising transactions and other economic events; preparation of financial statements; analysis of the operations of business (for example, decision analysis, performance measurement and management control); financial analysis and projections (for example, analysis of financial ratios, discounted cash flow analysis, budgeting, financial risks)
  • knowledge of theories and empirical evidence concerning financial management, risk and the operation of capital markets (in cases of degrees with significant finance content).
  • Abstraction. From the study of economic principles and models, students see how one can abstract the essential features of complex systems and provide a useable framework for evaluation and assessment of the effects of policy or other exogenous events. Through this, the typical student will acquire proficiency in how to simplify while still retaining relevance. This is an approach that they can then apply in other contexts, thereby becoming more effective problem-solvers and decision-makers.
  • Analysis, deduction and induction. Economic reasoning is highly deductive, and logical analysis is applied to assumption-based models. However, inductive reasoning is also important. The development of such analytical skills enhances students' problem-solving and decision-making ability.
  • Quantification and design. Data, and their effective organisation, presentation and analysis, are important in economics. The typical student will have some familiarity with the principal sources of economic information and data relevant to industry, commerce, society and government, and have had practice in organising it and presenting it informatively. This skill is important at all stages in the decision-making process.
  • Framing. Through the study of economics, a student should learn how to decide what should be taken as given or fixed for the purposes of setting up and solving a problem, i.e. what the important 'parameters' are in constraining the solution to the problem. Learning to think about how and why these parameters might change encourages a student to place the economic problem in its broader social and political context. This 'framing' skill is important in determining the decision-maker's ability to implement the solutions to problems.
  • An appreciation of the nature of the contexts in which finance can be seen as operating, including knowledge of the institutional framework necessary for understanding the role, operation and function of markets and financial institutions (e.g. the economic, legal, regulatory and tax environment, both national and international; the firm; the capital markets and the public sector).
  • A knowledge of the major theoretical tools and theories of finance, and their relevance and application to theoretical and practical problems (e.g. concept of arbitrage and examples of its use; financial mathematics and capital budgeting criteria; informational efficiency; optimal risk sharing; portfolio theory; asset pricing models and the valuation of securities; cost of capital; derivative pricing; risk management; information asymmetry; principal agency relationships; signalling; Fisher separation and capital budgeting criteria; behavioural finance; term structure and the movement of interest rates; determination of exchange rates and financial intermediation).
  • An ability to interpret financial data including that arising in the context of the firm or household from accounting statements and data generated in financial markets. The interpretation may involve analysis using statistical and financial functions and procedures such as are routinely available in spreadsheets (eg Microsoft Excel) and statistical packages. It may assume the skills necessary to manipulate financial data and carry out statistical and econometric tests (e.g. estimation and interpretation of asset pricing models; financial modelling and projections; event studies and residuals analysis; elements of time series analysis, such as serial correlation mean reversion, and stochastic volatility).
  • An understanding of the relationship between financial theory and empirical testing, and application of this knowledge to the appraisal of the empirical evidence in at least one major theoretical area. The appraisal should involve some recognition of the limitation and evolution of empirical tests and theory (eg the efficient markets hypothesis; anomalies; pricing of derivatives and other securities; bond portfolio management; exchange rates; raising capital and capital structure).
  • An understanding of the financing arrangements and governance structures of business entities, and an appreciation of how theory and evidence can be combined to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of such arrangements (e.g. decisions as to sources of finance and financial structure; the pricing of corporate securities; the market for corporate control; corporate governance structures and mechanisms; financial planning and international dimensions of finance).
  • An understanding of the factors influencing the investment behaviour and opportunities of private individuals (bonds, equities, and derivatives; risk aversion; risk/return trade-offs; portfolio management and performance measurement; pensions and long term savings; the tax treatment of savings and investments; international diversification; forex risk; objectives of and constraints on institutional investors and advisors).
  • An understanding of financial service activity in the economy, and an appreciation of how finance theory and evidence can be employed to interpret these services (for example, information asymmetry, adverse selection and moral hazard could be employed to analyse the fundamental nature of services, such as insurance, pensions, bank lending and consumer credit, and also explore fundamental problems arising in such financial service provision. Efficient market hypothesis could be used to explore evidence for fund manager performance and the effectiveness of equity and bond saving services).
  • Problem solving and critical analysis: analysing facts and circumstances to determine the cause of a problem and identifying and selecting appropriate solutions.
  • Research: the ability to analyse and evaluate a range of business data, sources of information and appropriate methodologies, which includes the need for strong digital literacy, and to use that research for evidence-based decision-making.
  • Innovation, creativity and enterprise: the ability to act entrepreneurially to generate, develop and communicate ideas, manage and exploit intellectual property, gain support, and deliver successful outcomes.
  • Numeracy: the use of quantitative skills to manipulate data, evaluate, estimate and model business problems, functions and phenomena.
  • Articulating and effectively explaining information.
  • Communication and listening including the ability to produce clear, structured business communications in a variety of media.
  • Conceptual and critical thinking, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
  • Self-management: a readiness to accept responsibility and flexibility, to be resilient, self-starting and appropriately assertive, to plan, organise and manage time.
  • Self reflection: self-analysis and an awareness/sensitivity to diversity in terms of people and cultures. This includes a continuing appetite for development.


Resource implications for students

None. Students will be using the extensive journal resources available electronically via the library, databases for which BBS has subscriptions and other freely available online datasets.

Reading list

As for all dissertations, the reading list will depend on the specific direction of research taken by each student.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules


Courses including this module