Students on our Finance Master’s programmes* had an amazing opportunity to study one of two international electives – Macroeconomics and Finance for Practitioners in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Introduction to Quantitative Investing in New York City.

The electives are designed to teach students theory and be able to apply it to the business context of the country they are visiting. It’s a truly unique experience that broadens their knowledge, aids in their personal development and boosts their CV – international experience is well regarded by employers.

Read on to find out more about the international electives and the students’ experience.

Macroeconomics and Finance for Practitioners

Students travelled to Dubai and the UAE for this elective to develop an understanding of how macroeconomics affects the determination of asset prices. The seven-day trip had a packed itinerary of lectures, company visits, a networking event and multiple cultural activities.

The lectures were held daily in the morning to teach students theory, and in the afternoon they visited companies to see the learnings in practice. The lectures put an emphasis on the monetary and fiscal policy issues arising in an economy like the UAE to help students create links and make the company visits extremely relevant.

Students also visited and had company presentations at the Central Bank of the UAE, the Dubai Islamic Bank, Mubadala, an investment and development company, and Nakheel, the real estate developers behind The Palm. The final presentation was at Citi UAE, where an Imperial MBA alumnus and CEO of the company presented to students.

Owen Li, MSc Investment & Wealth Management student, shares his experience from the elective:

From lectures by Professor Alex Michaelides and presentations by local organisations, I developed a basic understanding of the current macroeconomic situations in the UAE and how they are affected by monetary and fiscal policies. I was also immersed in Arabic culture and had a wonderful experience that I would never have gotten the opportunity to experience otherwise.

The trip fully immersed students in the local culture with a fantastic social programme which they enjoyed alongside MSc Management students who were also in Dubai studying the Global Immersion elective. Highlights include a visit to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, a cultural lunch at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding to sample delicious local delights and visiting the striking Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

Shubhra Jain, MSc Finance student, has documented her experience on the international elective in a video diary:

The week finished with a fun day in the desert. Students packed into Land Rovers for a “dune bashing” safari, complete with camel rides, sand surfing and a BBQ at a desert camp. Owen Li captured an incredible shot during the safari which won him the photo competition for the trip.

On his picture, Owen says:

The photo was quickly captured in the moment when I climbed up to the ridge of the sand dune, spotting the view towards the sun. It impressed me that beyond the winding path made by footprints, the bright, alluring and boundless distance could be seen. In addition to the close shot of the path almost looking like it’s leading to the sun, the stereoscopic light, shade of the sand and the people also magnified the vastness of the desert.

Introduction to Quantitative Investing in New York City

What better place to learn about quantitative investing than New York City (NYC), the globally renowned finance centre. Students spent a week in NYC learning about quantitative methods relevant for algorithmic trading through lectures, guest speakers, company visits and experiential learning activities.

The first part of the elective is taught online before students head to NYC, so they are primed on algorithmic trading before reaching the Big Apple. However, students still have lectures during the trip which were hosted at the prestigious Cornell Tech campus, and featured some high profile guest speakers.

The company visits and presentations gave students an insider’s look into the finance industry, as well as the opportunity to see how the algorithmic trading models function in real time.

During the week they visited the headquarters of Goldman Sachs, the famous American multinational investment bank and financial services company, as well as the IEX Group, a stock exchange for investors and companies, and OnDeck Capital, a global online company that offers small business loans.

The most memorable visit of the trip took place on Wall Street itself – a look inside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) with a tour around the iconic building. Joyce Zhao, a student on the MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering captured a beautiful shot inside the NYSE, winning our photo competition for the trip. She said:

The NYC elective was intensive but extremely interesting. In that short week, we explored the American culture in many dimensions, visited several well-known firms in the financial district and even completed a group project from scratch. It gave us a comprehensive view of quantitative investing in a practical way and I am really inspired by the company visits.

At the end of the week, students applied all their learnings from the lectures and company visits to create their own financial trading model as part of their assessment, working together in groups.

It was a busy seven days, but students managed to squeeze in time to explore NYC and mingle with the MSc Management students who were also in town for their Global Immersion. A private tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as the MET, was an enriching cultural experience that students will remember for years to come.

Joyce comments on her overall experience of the elective:

The NYC elective was intensive but extremely interesting. In that short week, we explored the American culture in many dimensions, visited several well-known firms in the financial district and even completed a group project from scratch. It gave us a comprehensive view of quantitative investing in a practical way and I am really inspired by the company visits.

Students returned from their international trips to continue their studies in London, equipped with new and current knowledge, as well as some lifelong memories.

*The Macroeconomics and Finance for Practitioners elective is available to students on MSc Finance, MSc Finance & Accounting, MSc Investment & Wealth Management and MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering. The Introduction to Quantitative Investing is available to the aforementioned with the exemption of MSc Finance & Accounting.