We wrote to you on 21 May 2020 outlining how the College’s plans for teaching will be adjusted during the Autumn Term 2020 due to the restrictions caused by COVID-19. We are writing to you again today to provide more details about the delivery of the MSc Mathematics and Finance and to again emphasise that we are committed to providing the same world-leading education under all circumstances.  

Although the MSc Mathematics and Finance would normally be delivered in-person on campus, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020-21 it will be delivered via a multi-mode approach that combines both on-campus (face-to-face) and remote (online) learning activities. An important component of Imperial’s plans is the guarantee that if you are unable to travel to Imperial College for the Academic Year 2020-2021,  you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience. This means that if you are unable to come to Imperial you will still be able to engage fully with your studies by participating in the on-campus activities online.  

Below, we outline the main modifications for the MSc Mathematics and Finance in the academic year 2020-21.  

 

Institutional Guarantees 

 All on-campus activities will follow the current Public Health Advice from the UK Government as well as College guidelines on social distancing and any additional health and safety measures. If there is an escalation of the current outbreak or a new outbreak of COVID-19 during your programme then, in line with Public Health Advice from the UK Government, we may be forced to suspend on-campus activity in connection with either national or local requirements.  

Since we will already be delivering the programme remotely to some students as part of the multi-mode format, we will continue to be able to deliver these elements to all students remotely in this case. We will ensure that the full contents of the MSc in Mathematics and Finance will be delivered and that all the learning outcomes will be met; the College is also developing virtual community-building activities to support the multi-mode experience for students.  

College-wide induction and enrolment activities will operate in a remote format at the start of the academic year and there will be no requirement to visit the campus in-person to begin your studies.  

 

Programme Induction Week 

A mixed-mode induction will be delivered that will include live sessions with MSc teaching staff, training courses and student group activities.  

The induction week will focus on introducing the MSc programme and good academic practices. Training workshops will be offered for Latex, a type-setting environment that you will be using throughout the program. Further courses will be offered for the virtual learning environment of the College (Blackboard) and Microsoft Teams, in order to make sure you are able to participate effectively in the remote components of the degree.  A variety of College services, including library, careers and enterprise, will also be introduced during the induction week.  

The training courses in the induction week will combine pre-recorded videos with live sessions and activities. It is our intention for students to be able to attend the live sessions in person on campus, whilst giving remote students access to participate online. Some of the live sessions might run completely remotely. All sessions will be recorded and made available for online viewing afterwards. If required, additional sessions for remote students will be organized. 

In addition to academic and administrative components, the induction week will also focus on building relationships amongst the students and academics of the programme through on-campus and remote social events and meetings. The aim is to create strong cohort bonds from the outset. Further details on this will be provided nearer to the start of the programme. 

 

Content of the Programme 

The College has carefully reviewed the learning outcomes of the programme to ensure that these can be taught and assessed in a multi-mode format. We are happy to report that no changes to the module learning outcomes have been necessary as a consequence of moving to the multi-mode delivery format.  

There are some small administrative changes to the modules offered as part of the MSc degree: 

  • Fundamentals of Option Pricing – Change in percentage of assessment (coursework/exam assessment) 
  • Advances in Machine Learning – Change in name and percentage of assessment 
  • Market Microstructure - Change in percentage of assessment 
  • Portfolio Management - Change reflect percentage of assessment 
  • Convex Optimization - Change in percentage of assessment 
  • Topics in Derivatives Pricing - Change in percentage of assessment 
  • Numerical Methods for Finance - Change in percentage of assessment 
  • Stochastic Analysis in Finance - Change in name and percentage of assessment 
  • Advanced Topics in Data Science: Rough Path in Machine Learning - Change in name and percentage of assessment 
  • Statistical Methods in Finance: Change in percentage of assessment 
  • Non-credit C++(I) module: Replaced with Python programming module 

A comprehensive list of the core and elective modules offered within the MSc can be found on the programme webpages.

 The outlined schedule of when modules will be taught remains unchanged. In particular, the core modules and electives of the MSc will be distributed between the Autumn Term and Spring Term as in previous years.  

 

Programme Delivery 

The MSc is usually delivered through face-to-face lectures coupled with a range of other activities, including computing sessions, on-line quizzes, office hours and discussion forums. Some of these will continue in a similar form next year, with the following changes: 

In the multi-mode approach, pre-recorded videos will be made available for each module to introduce the key concepts. These videos will be complemented by live sessions that will provide an interactive environment to apply and consolidate understanding of the modules’ material, and will also feature group tutorials, problem classes and Q&A sessions. The live sessions will be run by the module lecturers with the help of graduate teaching assistants. If conditions allow most of the live sessions will run on campus, while some of them will be delivered remotely. Remote students will be able to participate in the live sessions online and will be able to engage with both the module lecturers and on-campus students. All sessions will be recorded and will be available for viewing online afterwards for all students.  

 Each of the 7.5 ECTS core modules will have on average 12 hours of live sessions; the 5 ECTS electives will have 5 hours of live sessions on average. More applied and computational modules will have fewer live sessions as they include computing sessions. Computing sessions will run under the guidance of the module lecturers and the graduate teaching assistant, who will be available to answer questions and foster further discussions. The exact number of live and computing sessions per module will be announced at the start of each module.  Modules will also be supported by office hours and discussion forums. 

 The MSc also offers meetings with personal tutors and project supervisors. These activities will run on campus if relevant parties and health and safety conditions allow; otherwise they will be conducted remotely: 

  • Personal Tutor meetings focus on discussing how your studies are going, module and project selection, future career aspirations and well-being. There will be a mixture of individual personal tutor meetings and meetings alongside other MSc students.  
  • Project Supervisor meetings focus on discussing the scope of your project and other related discussions. These meetings usually start after the end of the Summer term examinations and run through the summer months.  

It is important to note that in the event of a suspension of on-campus activity during the academic year all live sessions and meetings with tutors and supervisors will still be delivered remotely. 

To access the content of the programme remotely you will be expected to have access to a computer, reliable internet connection and be able to use Microsoft Teams. Your College IT account will provide you with free access to the Office365 suite of tools, and further information about how to use Microsoft Teams is available online. Training and support for how to use other systems and software will be provided during the programme induction and through specific modules.  

In addition to the MSc academic activities, a number of social events will be organized over the academic year that will provide an informal environment for building relationships with fellow MSc students, academics from the Mathematics and Finance Section, and practitioners from the industry. Moreover, you will have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of student led-activities organized by the Department of Mathematics, e.g., Women in Maths and the Student Mathematical Society – MathSoc.  

 

Programme Assessment 

The MSc modules will be assessed through a combination of open-book timed remote assessments, oral examinations, group assessments, coursework and quizzes. The assessments are designed to be suitable for both remote and on-campus students. All students participating in an assessment will complete it in the same way, whether they choose to come to campus or study remotely. 

 The Research Project will be assessed via a thesis.  

 Details of individual assessments will be provided in the Programme Handbook, which will be made available on the programme website in due course. 

 

Length of the Programme 

This is a one-year MSc programme, running from October 2020 to September 2021.  

 

Additional Costs 

To study remotely you will be expected to have access to a computer and to a reliable internet connection, and you will need to cover any associated costs for these to participate in the programme if you choose to study remotely. 

Access to a webcam and a headset with microphone would be beneficial for interaction in live sessions. Access to a graphics tablet and stylus would be helpful for active participation in the live sessions and will encourage active learning with asynchronous videos by annotating lecture notes and filling in gapped lecture notes.  The latter should also be achievable with pen and papers for students with access to a printer. 

 

Location 

 On-site in-person teaching will still be delivered at Imperial’s South Kensington Campus. 

 

Student Experience  

Your experience at Imperial goes beyond just your academic studies. With the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), Imperial has been working with your Union to ensure that we are able to provide, enhance and facilitate all areas of your student experience under all eventualities.  We identified key pillars of the wider student experience:  academic experience; research culture and environment; amenities and accommodation; student community; wellbeing support; co-curricular activities and extra-curricular activities.   Information on how we will deliver these, along with information on our Library Services, considering current social distancing restrictions, as well as a full lockdown, are set out on our website.

The modifications outlined above will enable a safe delivery of the MSc during the academic year 2020-21. I want to reassure you that by joining the degree you will receive outstanding training in Statistics and enhance several transferable skills, including computational, presentation, writing and time management skills.   

Altogether, the modifications outlined above will enable a safe delivery of the MSc Mathematics and Finance during the academic year 2020-21. We want to reassure you that by joining the programme you will receive outstanding training in Mathematics and Finance and enhance transferable skills, including computational, presentation, writing and time management skills.   

I wish you all the best to you and your loved ones and look forward to meeting you online or in person soon. 

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us at  mathfin@imperial.ac.uk.   

  

Jack Jacquier 

Director, MSc Mathematics and Finance