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.
In the Semester 1 you will take the following two core modules:
- Financial Economics: Financial instruments and how they are traded; the major topics in financial economics including portfolio theory, the pricing of bonds, stocks, and other financial instruments
- Quantitative Methods in Finance: The statistical and computing skills necessary to understand fully and perform modern financial analysis
Plus one elective from:
- 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
- Technologies for eCommerce: Provides an in-depth understanding of the how to use Java servlets and JSP to implement an ecommerce website server
Plus one elective from:
- 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
- Computer Security and Forensics: Covers the principles of computer security and their application to forensic analysis, in particular confidentiality, integrity and availability
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 two 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 two electives from:
- Decision Support Systems: IT methods and techniques in the support of decision-making in organisations, in particular modelling, simulation and intelligent decision support systems
- Networking and Technologies for eCommerce*: Discusses computer networks and their layered architecture. You also study web scripting using PHP, Java script and XML
- Networking*: Investigates the principles of data communications, including layered network architecture, services and protocols
- Object-oriented Software Design: How to analyse and model requirements and develop object-oriented software, through the use of UML and CASE tools
- Communication Systems and Services: Covers the underlying concepts of Voice over IP communications architectures, web service provision and its role in commercial applications, as well as the principles of applications for mobile phones
* Only one of these modules can be selected.
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 the first semester, 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 (www.mastersprojects.ac.uk). These will be offered to the best students in the class. 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.