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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Finance Group

 

Studying Finance at the Master Level

This page describes the courses offered by the Finance Group at the Master level and recommends study plans for students specializing in finance and those who consider writing a doctoral dissertation in finance after completing their master degree. To specialize in finance, master degree students should use the following course sequence.

 

WS

1st Semester

SS

2nd Semester

WS

3rd Semester

SS

4th Semester

Finance Theory
 
Financial Derivatives
Advanced Corporate Finance
 
Case Seminar ACF
 
Fixed Income
 
Corporate Restructurings
Master Thesis Seminar
 
Selected Topics of Emerging Markets
Writing Thesis

Students interested in professional asset management should consider participating in the two-year long Portfolio Management Program (PMP). Participation in the PMP will earn 10 ECTS, which can be credited to the "Überfachlicher Wahlbereich" (ÜWP).

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 in the second year.

 

1st Semester 2nd Semester 3rd Semester 4th Semester
Finance Theory
 
Financial Accounting & Analysis
 
Applied Econometrics
 
Advanced Corporate Finance
 
Accounting Theory & Earnings Management
Master Thesis Seminar
 
Microecocomic Analysis I*
 
Econometrics I*
 
 
Thesis
 
 
Microeconomic Analysis II*
 
Econometrics II*
 
 

* Ph.D. level courses

 

The rest of this page contains course descriptions, followed by advice for students who want to write a master thesis in finance.

Course Descriptions

 

Finance Theory (VL + UE, 4 SWS, 6 SP, WS)  moodle-icon  pdf

This course reviews and extends students' understanding of methods for capital budgeting and the valuation of financial and non-financial assets. Topics include NPV, the term structure of interest rates, bond valuation, interest rate parity, the CAPM and the underlying portfolio theory, stock valuation, capital budgeting, the weighted average cost of capital, the theorems of Modigliani and Miller, and capital structure irrelevance as an application of put-call parity.

 

Literature: Lecture Notes
Evaluation: Written exam (60 min)

 

Financial Derivatives (VL + UE, 4 SWS, 6 SP, WS)  moodle-icon  pdf

Upon completion of the module, students will be familiar with how standard financial derivatives such as futures, forwards, and options are structured and how they are used in risk management. They will be able to apply standard pricing methods such as the binomial model and the Black-Scholes model, but will also develop a critical understanding of the derivatives business and its role in financial markets and society.

Literature: Lecture Notes
Evaluation: Written exam (90 min)

 

Fixed Income (VL + UE, 4 SWS, 6 SP, SS)  moodle-icon  pdf

On completition of the module, students will be familiar with the basic concepts of fixed income analysis and will be able to apply these concepts in the valuations of fixed income products. They will understand how fixed income products are used for the purposes of investment and risk transfer. Students will also develop a critical understanding of some of the controversies surrounding the use of fixed income products such as interest rate swaps and/ or collateralized debt obligations.

Prerequisite: Finance Theory
Literature: Lecture Notes
Evaluation: Written exam (60 min)

 

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

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: Finance Theory
Textbook: Grinblatt, M.; Titman, S.: "Financial Markets and Corporate Strategy", Verlag: McGraw-Hill (2nd edition)
Evaluation: Written exam (90 min)

 

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

This seminar discusses Harvard Business School case studies that relate to the materials covered in Finance Theory and Advanced Corporate Finance. In addition, there will be several company presentations of real-world business cases. The best performing students will be invited to participate in the annual KPMG International Case Competition.

 

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

 

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

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, J.; Leamon, A.; Hardymon, F.: "Venture Capital, Private Equity, and the Financing of Entrepreneurship", Verlag: Wiley (2012)
Evaluation:

Written exam (60 min)

 

Selected Topics of Emerging Markets (VL + SE, 4 SWS, 6 SP, WS)  moodle-icon  pdf

This module consists of two parts. In the beginning of the semester there are weekly lectures, 4 hours per week, about emerging markets, principles of financial development, the Asian financial crisis, microfinance and further financial issues. In January of the same term there is a seminar during two days about a specific topic that will be preannounced.

Prerequisite: None
Literature: Ray, D.: "Development Economics", Verlag: Princeton University Press (1998) and Lecture Notes
Evaluation: Presentation of seminar thesis (plus essays as special work performance)

 

Master Thesis Seminar: Corporate Finance (SE, 4 SWS, 6 SP, WS & SS)  moodle-icon  pdf

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 from an end user perspective. 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 using Stata or R.

Prerequisite: Advanced Corporate Finance and Case Seminar Advanced Corporate Finance
Evaluation: Presentation of research paper (100 %)
Textbook: Wooldridge, J. M.: "Introductory Econometrics", Verlag: South Western (2009)
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 (SE, 4 SWS, 6 SP, WS & SS)  moodle-icon  pdf

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. The focus is on replications and extensions of published papers.

Prerequisite: Finance Theory, Advanced Corporate Finance

Evaluation:

Class participation (100 %)

Textbook: Scientific papers
Restriction:

Max. 10 participants. Need to register. Registration required. To apply, submit a CV and most recent transcript to the group's secretary by April 10 or Oct 10.


 

Writing a Master Thesis in Finance

 

Students who would like to write a Master thesis in 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. At the very least, students must have passed the exam in Finance Theory.

The purpose of the Master Thesis Seminars 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)

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

  • Corporate Risk Management
  • Mutual Funds
  • Behavioral Corporate Finance
  • Debt Financing, e.g., Syndicated Loans, Mittelstandsanleihen
  • Venture Capital, Private Equity
  • Crypto-Currencies, Bitcoin, Blockchain Technology

You should budget at least six months for completing your thesis.

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 present your topic, 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.

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.

Master Thesis in Financial Economics (Stomper)

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

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: