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Course content

Financial engineering involves the creation of financial products that are aimed specifically at the needs of investors, rather than the conventional approach of defining assets on the basis of borrowers' requirements. Central to Financial Engineering are relative value (sometimes called arbitrage) trading strategies and the structuring of financial products, and the closely associated process of securitisation. Structuring involves the transformation of cash flows derived from an asset and improving the risk profile of the structured product. The contemporary derivative markets are driven by the process structuring, both in terms of transforming cash flows through “swaps” and credit enhancement through credit derivatives.

The programme aims to develop the skills and knowledge required by the modern investment and asset management industry where relative value trading strategies and structuring dominate. The emphasis is on developing a range of practical skills rather than develop an abstract "theory of everything". This reflects the need for practitioners to be able to employ different techniques in the ever changing world of contemporary finance.

The material is based substantially on the PRIMIA syllabus for risk management and the Actuarial Profession’s Specialist Technical (ST) syllabus to value and manage the risks associated with a portfolios of derivatives.

The taught component of the degree makes up 120 credits. There are seven mandatory courses leading to 75 credits and consisting of:

• Enterprise Risk Management (15 credits, Semesters 1) - a comprehensive treatment of Financial Risk Management focusing on quantitative aspects.

• Derivative Markets and Pricing (15 credits, Semester 1) - an introduction to derivative markets and how derivative products are priced.

• Modelling and Tools (15 credits, Semester 2) - the fundamental techniques of deterministic and probabilistic mathematical modelling.

• Financial Engineering (15 credits, Semester 2) - provides a thorough grounding in the mathematics underpinning Financial Engineering. Topics include non-standard derivatives, securitisation and structuring, modelling interest rates (including Libor Market Models and valuing swaptions) and contemporary issues in asset management (relative value and pairs trading strategies).

• Credit Risk Modelling (15 credits, Semester 2) - a detailed treatment of the mathematics underpinning Basel Accord on banking supervision and Solvency II for insurance.

Students will also choose three of the following five optional courses leading to a further 45 credits

• Statistical Methods (15 credits, Semester 1) - a foundation course in probability and statistics.

• Financial markets (15 credits, Semester 1) - an introduction to the financial markets.

• Time Series Analysis and Financial Econometrics (15 credits, Semester 2) - analysis and modelling of financial data.

• Modern Portfolio Theory (15 credits, Semester 2) - classical portfolio theory based on maximising expected utility

• Bayesian Inference & Computational Methods (15 credits, Semester 2) - a course on modern Bayesian statistical inference and involving implementing the Bayesian approach in practical situations

Visit the Quantitative Financial Engineering page on the Heriot-Watt University website for more details!

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