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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Finance Group


Master Courses Offered by the Finance Group

This page describes the courses offered by the Finance Group and recommends study plans for students specializing in finance and those who consider writing a doctoral dissertation in finance.

For more information about writing a master thesis in finance, click here.


Recommended Study Plan

To specialize in finance, master students should use the following course sequence:

1st Semester 2nd Semester 3rd Semester 4th Semester
Introduction to Financial Economics (Finance Theory)
Advanced Corporate Finance
Case Seminar
Private Equity
Master Thesis Seminar
Writing Thesis



Students who consider writing a doctoral dissertation after completing their master program should use the following "research track" course sequence, which contains a few Ph.D.-level courses:


1st Semester 2nd Semester 3rd Semester 4th Semester
Financial Accounting & Analysis
Applied Econometrics
Introducton to Financial Economics (Finance Theory)
Accounting Theory & Earnings Management
Advanced Corporate Finance
Master Thesis Seminar
Micro I*
Econometrics I*
Finance & Accounting Research Seminar*
Micro II*
Econometrics II*
Finance & Accounting Research Seminar*

* Ph.D. level courses


Course Descriptions


Corporate Finance (VL + ÜB, 4 SWS, 6 SP, WS)  moodle-icon

This course gives an introduction to the financial management of corporations. The course introduces standard corporate securities and focuses on cash management & financial forecasting, company/project valuation using multiples and discounted cash flow models and the basics of capital structure and dividend policies. The Modigliani-Miller Theorem and its limitations are a central focus of the course.

Prerequisite: Grundlagen der Finanzwirtschaft I & II, or equivalent knowledge
Textbook: Corporate Finance, by De Marzo and Berk, Pearson, 3rd edition
Evaluation: Written exam (90 min.)


Introduction to Financial Economics (Finance Theory) (VL+ÜB, 4 SWS, 6 SP, WS)  moodle-icon

This course develops the concepts and tools needed to design investment strategies using available traded securities. The main focus is on stocks and bonds, but the ideas are general. The topics include: modern portfolio theory of Markowitz, index models, equilibrium models of risk-return tradeoff (CAPM, APT - with examples of application), overview of behavioral finance, concepts of interest rates, measures of interest rate risk (duration, convexity), and valuation of derivatives.

Prerequisite: Investition und Finanzierung, Investmentanalyse
und Portfoliomanagement or equivalent knowledge
Literature: Lecture Notes
Evaluation: Written exam (60 min.)


Advanced Corporate Finance (VL+ÜB, 4 SWS, 6 SP, SS)  moodle-icon

This course explains the impact of principal-agent conflicts and information asymmetries on major financial decisions and policies of non-financial firms, such as capital structure, fund raising, payout policy, corporate governance, executive compensation, and corporate risk management.

Prerequisite: Corporate Finance
Textbook: Financial Markets and Corporate Strategy, by Grinblatt, and Titman, McGraw-Hill 2nd edition
Evaluation: Written exam (90 min.)


Private Equity (VL + ÜB, 4 SWS, 6 SP, SS)  moodle-icon

This course covers advanced issues in corporate finance from the perspective of private equity. While prior courses have taken the corporation as given, we will focus on the dynamic aspects: growing a business (venture capital), taking it over (leveraged buy-outs), acquiring one (M&A), or disposing of it (exits).

Implementations and calculations will be made with spreadsheets and GNU/R.

Case studies and practitioner talks are an integral part of this course.

Prerequisite: Advanced Corporate Finance
Textbook: Lerner, Leamon and Hardymon (2012),
Venture Capital, Private Equity, and the Financing of Entrepreneurship, Wiley

Written exam (60 min.)

Case Seminar Advanced Corporate Finance (3 SWS, 12 SP, SS)  moodle-icon

This seminar discusses real world case studies that relate to the materials covered in Corporate Finance and Advanced Corporate Finance. The best performing students will be invited to participate in the annual KPMG International Case Competition.

Prerequisite: Corporate Finance, Students must take Advanced Corporate Finance parallel to the case seminar.
Literature: Harvard Business School Cases
Evaluation: Presentation (20%), six case reports (80%)
Restriction: Max. 24 participants. Registration required. To apply, submit a CV and most recent transcript to the group's secretary by April 10.


Master Thesis Seminar: Corporate Finance (4 SWS, 6 SP)  moodle-icon

The purpose of this seminar is to introduce students to major empirical research topics and methods in corporate finance, in order to prepare them for writing a Master thesis. In the first part of the seminar we will review some of the main econometric techniques such as regression analysis, time series models, panel data estimation, and event studies. You will also learn how to analyze this data with STATA®, a simple but powerful statistical software package. The second part of the seminar consists of student presentations of important research papers in corporate finance. In addition, students are required to replicate an empirical research paper with new data.

Prerequisite: Case Seminar Corporate Finance.
Evaluation: Presentation of research paper (100%)
Textbook: Introductory Econometrics, by Wooldridge, Thomson - South Western
Restriction: Max. 20 participants. Registration required. To apply, submit a CV and most recent transcript to the group's secretary by April 10 or Oct 10.


Master Thesis Seminar: Financial Economics (4 SWS, 6 SP)  moodle-icon

The purpose of this seminar is to introduce students to major empirical research topics and methods in financial economics, in order to prepare them for writing a Master thesis at the Institute of Financial Economics. 

Prerequisite: Introduction to Financial Economics, Advanced Corporate Finance


Class participation (100%)

Textbook: Scientific papers

Max. 10 participants. Need to register. To apply submit CV and current transcript to the group's secretary. Application deadline is at the end of the previous semester.

The Institute für Finanzierung also offers several finance courses at the Master level.


Writing a Master Thesis in Finance

Students who would like to write a Master thesis in the area of Finance must have completed the Financial Economics concentration, and have attend either the Master Thesis Seminar Corporate Finance or the Master Thesis Seminar Financial Economics. It is recommended that students take as many finance electives as possible prior to registering for a Master Thesis Seminar. The purpose of the Master Thesis Seminar is to introduce students to academic research and scientific writing, and the requirements for writing a master thesis in Finance.

Most thesis topics will be of an empirical nature. Therefore, good econometric skills are essential. The courses Econometric Methods or Applied Econometrics are highly recommended. Familiarity with statistical software, such as Stata, R or SAS, is also important. Since most relevant literature is in English, it is recommended to write the master thesis in English, but this is not a necessity.


Master Thesis in Corporate Finance (Adam / Elendner)

If you are interested in writing a master thesis in the area of Corporate Finance, contact Prof. Adam or Prof. Elendner to discuss a suitable thesis topic and expected completion time after you have completed the Master Thesis Seminar Corprate Finance. Currently we offer topics in the following areas:

  • Corporate Risk Management
  • Mutual Funds
  • Behavioral Corporate Finance
  • Debt Financing, e.g., Syndicated Loans, Mittelstandsanleihen
  • Credit Rating Agencies
  • Private Equity
  • Crypto-Currencies, Bitcoin, Blockchain Technology
  • Financial Regulation

You should budget at least six months for completing your thesis. It is also possible and encouraged to write a thesis jointly with another fellow student. This is not only more stimulating than writing by yourself but you can also benefit from economies of scale.


Master Thesis in Financial Economics (Stomper)

If you are interested in writing a master thesis in the area of financial economics, contact Prof. Stomper or one of his assistants to discuss a suitable thesis topic.

Before you can start working on your thesis, you have to attend the Master Thesis Seminar Financial Economics in order to present/develop your ideas and to write a research proposal (i.e. the seminar paper). Students with suitable research proposals will obtain approval to write their theses according to their proposals.

In general, master theses in financial economics will be replication exercises. If an empirical or experimental analysis is to be replicated, then the replication must be done in STATA or R. We will specify which of the two software packages ought to be used in any particular case. If the replication concerns a theoretical paper, then the thesis will analyze a particular specification of the model in the paper. Any programs written/datasets used must be submitted with the thesis in electronic form. In replicating an experimental analysis, students will not conduct experiments, but rather work with data from previous experiments.

To pick a thesis topic, consult the following webpage: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/issues.php
Of the papers listed on the above page, any papers with a focus on financial economics (broadly defined) are suitable picks for a replication exercise leading to a HU master thesis in financial economics. Of course, the replication must be doable. For example, a replication of an empirical or experimental paper requires data access. To assess whether a replication is doable, students need to look at the appendices, data sets, etc. linked to a given paper on the AER webpage.


General Information

After obtaining a thesis topic the next step is to write and orally present a research proposal (60 min). Proposals take place on Tuesdays, 16-18, in DOR1-304. During the presentation you should explain why your topic is important, what new insights could potentially be gained from your thesis, and discuss your research methodology. It is important to clearly state the research question and to demonstrate the feasibility of your project. After a successful presentation you can submit the form „Anmeldung zur Masterarbeit“ to the group's secretary, and begin writing your thesis.

Master theses must be submitted in bound format (2 copies) by the due date to the Prüfungsamt. Each master thesis must include a DVD containing the thesis, all data used, computer programs, and pdf files of all references. Further information about how to write a thesis can be found here.


Exceptional Master theses will be nominated for the David-Kopf Hochschulpreis.
See www.david-kopf.com for details.

In addition, you can participate in the following master-thesis competitions: