Computing for Financial Markets

Postgraduate Diploma, MSc


Please note 2017/18 will be the final year when this programme will be available.

This course covers the application and development of computer technologies as used in banking and financial systems, as well as financial and economic principles.

This course provides knowledge in key areas involving three subjects: Computing, Economics, and Finance. Together they offer a unique combination of expertise required for a successful career in the financial sector. This MSc offers a choice of computing modules so that the student can adapt the course to their previous computing experience.

The course has a distinct international dimension as financial markets today are international in scope: trading in equities, bonds, derivatives and other securities occurs across borders and on a global scale. It emphasises the key characteristics of today's globalised financial world.

Computing Science at Stirling has strong links with industry. Students can get a first-hand industrial experience through placements and internships with local enterprises and organisations. More specifically, we offer company-based MSc projects to our students where our students can work with an employer to gain valuable commercial experience. We also regularly invite industry experts to share their expertise with students through seminars and talks.

You will also get prepared to find and secure a great job after completing this course through an integrated structured personal and professional development programme called ‘Lift-Off’. This course covers crucial topics such as self-image, body language, interview techniques, assessment centre strategies, conflict resolution as well as CV preparation and job targeting techniques.

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: Postgraduate Diploma, MSc
  • Study methods: Campus based, Full-time
  • Start date:


  • Course Director: Dr Simon Jones
Download postgraduate prospectus

Dr Simon Jones

Computing Science & Mathematics University of Stirling

Course objectives

The course is aimed at students from a variety of backgrounds, especially those that do not have any previous training in computing, economics or finance. The course is designed to complement and extend a student’s previous education, training and experience. Appropriate module choices facilitate adjusting the course of study according to a student’s preferences and prior expertise.

The MSc in Computing for Financial Markets will greatly enhance the employment prospects of students. On completion of this course, you will be ideally placed to embark on an IT career in the financial sector. Our company sponsored MSc projects will provide an ideal pathway into the industry.

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree or equivalent. No formal qualification in economics, finance or computing is required. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

INTO University of Stirling offers a Graduate Diploma for those students who do not meet the required criteria for this course. If you successfully complete the Graduate Diploma in Science, Computing and Engineering and meet the required progression grades, you will be guaranteed entry onto year one of this Master's degree.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email to discuss your course of study.

Fees and costs

2017/18 Overseas £14,600
2017/18 Home/EU £4,600


2018/19 Overseas £15,250
2018/19 Home/EU TBC

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for all postgraduate taught courses are to be held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & funding

Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan

This course is currently approved for PTFL (Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan) funding from SAAS.  More information


For further information on possible sources of funding, visit:

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

This course comprises two 15-week semesters of taught modules, a winter programming assignment over three weeks in January, and the MSc project over three months at the end. Semester 1 concentrates on fundamental techniques. Semester 2 integrates, develops and applies these skills.

Practical work is a key component in this course. It builds from self contained tasks in the first semester, over the larger Winter programming assignment, to a group project in Semester 2. Finally, the dissertation project (possibly with a company) is the largest piece of work leading to your MSc dissertation. We usually place more than 50% of our students with a company for the MSc project duration.

In the Semester 1 you will take the following two core modules:

  • Corporate Finance: Provides an understanding of how corporations raise finance (debt and equity) and invest money (capital budgeting). Also examines other major decision areas of corporate finance and how these affect the value of the firm

Plus either:

  • Principles and Practice of Programming: The design and testing of programs written in Java. You will study good practice in program construction, programming with data structures and graphical user interfaces
  • Database Principles and Applications: Provides a critical understanding of the role of database management systems and the ability to creatively design and implement practical databases


  • Concurrent and Distributed Systems: Discusses how concurrent and distributed systems may be constructed and how parallelism in applications is handled. This module contains extensive lab exercises to illustrate the problems and for you to work on solutions.
  • one of
    • Representing and Manipulating Data: This module focusses on technologies such as Python for data manipulation and JSON together with XML and HTML for data representation.
    • Relational and non-Relational Databases: This module investigates the difference between SQL and non-relational (NoSQL) databases. It uses technologies such as MongoDB, Cassandra, and Neo4j. You will also learn about using MapReduce on databases.

During the winter break there is an extended programming assignment using Java.

Computing Science at Stirling has strong links with industry. We offer commercially linked projects for the MSc dissertation period. Topics include mobile phone app development (iPhone, Android, and also cross platform environments), bespoke Java applications, .net applications, and advanced website development projects.

In the Semester 2 you will study three core modules:

  • Derivatives: Provides an understanding of the uses and the valuation of the main derivative financial instruments. It covers the trading mechanisms used on derivative markets and explains the fundamental principles underlying the pricing of derivatives and their use in portfolio management, and risk management
  • Investments and Portfolio Management: Provides an understanding of portfolio management principles and the valuation of equities and fixed-interest securities

Plus one elective from: 

  • Object-oriented Software Design: How to analyse and model requirements and develop object-oriented software, through the use of UML and CASE tools
  • Data Analytics: This module looks at Reasoning Systems, Data Mining and the use of probability information in predicting data values.
  • Cluster Computing: In this module you will learn about the need for distributed data processing and distributed computing across clusters of computers. You will learn about the Hadoop ecosystem, including Pig and Hive, as well as distributing processes using Condor.


You may graduate with the Postgraduate Diploma after two semesters, or you may continue with a three-month project and dissertation to qualify for the MSc degree. The subject of the dissertation will usually be a computer application for a financial purpose.

Delivery and assessment

Students will learn about computing, finance and economics topics through lectures, tutorials/seminars and practical sessions. Lectures involve the whole class, while tutorials and practicals are for small groups. Practical work is a key component in our degrees, and provides the opportunity for hands-on experience. It builds from self-contained tasks in Semester 1, over a larger programming assignment in the winter break to a group project in Semester 2.

Finally, you will embark on a three-month project working on your dissertation topic. At the end of the project you will write up your findings as your MSc dissertation. For the MSc projects, we will make a number of industrial placements (usually unpaid) available through the Making the Most of Masters scheme ( We usually place more than 50% of our students with a company for the MSc project duration. Other project suggestions both from external bodies and from within the University are also offered. Furthermore, students' own ideas for projects are encouraged and welcomed. Often students bring in their previous expertise.

Modes of study

Full-time: MSc: one year; Diploma: nine months


Why Stirling?



In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 90 percent of research in Computing Science and Mathematics at Stirling was graded as ‘Internationally Excellent’, with the top five percent of that judged to be 'World-leading’.

According to the Guardian Newspaper's University Guide 2013, Stirling scores 100% student satisfaction with the course and 95% satisfaction with teaching in Computing Science and IT. For more information, please see

In the National Student Survey (Dec 2012) Stirling was ranked 1st for a 'good place to be’ and also for its Graduate School.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .


Practical experience and industrial placements

Practical work is a key component in our degrees, and provides the opportunity for hands-on experience. It builds from self-contained tasks in Semester 1, over a larger programming assignment in the winter break to a group project in Semester 2. Finally, the dissertation project is your largest single piece of work leading to your MSc dissertation. We usually place more than 50% of our students with a company for the MSc project duration.

After two semesters of classes you will embark on a three month project working on your dissertation topic. At the end of the project you will write up your findings as your MSc dissertation. For the MSc projects, we will make a number of industrial placements available. These will be offered to the best students in the class. Stirling is also partner in the Making the Most of Masters initiative, which organises company lead MSc projects. Other project suggestions both from external bodies and from within the university are also offered. Furthermore, students' own ideas for projects are encouraged and welcomed.

Computing Science at the University of Stirling supports the Scottish e-Placement project which provides short and long term (1-year) placements with Scottish high-tech companies. These placements typically are paid and thus a good way of gaining commercial experience and helping with your living expenses.

At Stirling, computing students are prepared for the employer based MSc projects and the workplace more generally through an integrated structured personal and professional development programme called ‘Lift-Off’. This programme covers crucial topics such as self-image, body language, interview techniques, assessment centre strategies, conflict resolution as well as CV preparation and job targeting techniques.

Our students

This degree is a great combination of modules that will provide the core knowledge for becoming a software developer and at the same it provides the opportunity to obtain knowledge around investments and portfolio management, which is a real asset if you want to work in the financial services. What actually makes this a unique and a great choice for everyone that likes to challenge himself is the that you will have the time, the support and the opportunities to master both fields.

My MSc gave the opportunity to meet bright mentors among my professors and achieve all my goals. Right now I work in JP Morgan Chase one of the biggest investment banks in the world, I also had an internship in Sainsbury's Bank (Financial Modelling) and my dissertation was a company-sponsored project from HSBC in Stirling where I had the chance to frequently visit and discuss design decisions with senior software developers and learn from their experience. So as far as the doors that the University of Stirling opened to me in the last 12 months are concerned, it couldn't get better than that.

Konstantina Noutsi, MSc Computing for Financial Markets, 2013

The MSc in Computing for Financial Markets is a unique programme that combines computing modules with finance and economics, which is exactly what I was looking for when I decided to do a Master's Degree. I had been working in investment banking for almost six years. The knowledge and skills I gained while studying this Master's at the University of Stirling gave me the confidence to apply for different types of jobs than what I used to work in, which will help me to gain new experience and improve my career. I spent a wonderful and unforgettable year in Stirling. The lecturers truly cared about my success and were very helpful and kind. I met many interesting people from various backgrounds and made many good friends.

Bandar Kohail, MSc Computing for Financial Markets, 2013

Computing for Financial Markets is my second MSc, prior taking the decision to apply for this course I did some research about the University, the modules, graduate prospects... and found actual feedback from previous students, saying how everything about the university, the course... is wonderful. Well I have to say I could not agree more with that.

After completing this course, I found that the University offered a brilliant environment for any student to excel, all the staff are exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful. The modules are very interesting, the facilities are first class. Furthermore, the University offers rich extra curricula activities... the best thing for me was securing a good job in difficult economical climate even before the end of the second semester and I had to turn down several subsequent interview offers. That shows that how much employers value graduates from the University of Stirling. This year was my best year as a student!

Sami M'Chala, MSc Computing for Financial Markets, 2012

I enjoyed my time as an MSc student at the University of Stirling very much. The student support services are extremely helpful and effective to assist you when settling in. Apart from the academic quality, the University of Stirling deserves to get the reward of the most beautiful campus in the world. The MSc was taught by very friendly and helpful academics. As an MSc student of this University I was very happy with the lecture theatre and laboratory quality and this helped me to get the most out of my course. I have successfully completed my MSc and have since embarked on studying for a PhD in Neuroinformatics in the computing science department. It is truly an amazing place to live, work and study.

Madhurananda Pahar, MSc Computing for Financial Markets, 2010

Since I arrived at Stirling, I enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere. Classes are divided well in lectures, tutorials and practical sessions. Small class sizes facilitated a profitable interaction among students and between students and staff. During this one-year experience I studied in an exciting interdisciplinary environment: half of the courses were dealing with Economics and Finance, giving me the opportunity of broadening my horizons and developing a strong grasp of methods and contents from different fields. I am now a PhD student in the department.

Thomas Mazzocco, MSc Computing for Financial Markets, 2009


Careers and employability

Career opportunities

The MSc in Computing for Financial Markets will greatly enhance the employment prospects of students. As a graduate of Computing for Financial Markets, you will be in demand in a range of sectors including banks, insurance business, IT software organisations, and service enterprises.

Previous postgraduate students have been very successful in obtaining suitable employment in the computing field in a considerable diversity of posts - some with small companies, others with major organisations such as HBOS, Prudential and RBS, with Local Authority and Government bodies. A number of graduates of the MSc Computing for Financial Markets have continued their studies towards a PhD.

Common job profiles of our graduates are:

  • As a Systems Analyst, you will work on solving computer problems. This might involve adapting existing systems or using new technologies designing a new software solution In doing so, you will design software, write code, and test and fix software applications. You might also be involved in providing documentation for users. Typically you would work as part of a larger team.
  • IT Consultants closely work with clients (often at the clients premises) and advise them on how to use computer technology and applications to best meet their business needs. You will work with clients to improve their efficiency of using computer systems. This may involve the adaptation/customisation of software applications, or the development of custom applications for the specific needs of the customer. As well as technical duties, you may be involved in project management.
  • Applications Developers translate software requirements into programming code, and will usually specialise in a specific area, such as computer games or web technology. Often developers work as part of a larger team. You may be in charge of developing a certain component or part of a larger application.
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