15 May 2020

Immy shares her experience of the second semester of the MSc in Finance, Technology and Policy.
London view over the Thames

This is part two of my reflections on the Master's in Finance, Technology, and Policy. Last time I wrote about semester one, and now that semester two has come to an end, I decided to do a follow-up on semester two as well!

Core and Options Courses

Overall, this semester was similar to the last one, but the structure was a little different. We have 70 credits (10 credits more than last semester), out of which you can select 30 credits of your choice. Plus, you have the compulsory core courses that consist of the three areas of finance, technology, and policy.

As in Semester One, I found machine learning to be the most challenging. It was offered by the School of Informatics, and so it can be somewhat difficult for Business School students. The Sociology of Finance and Market Microstructure courses gave us some insights into high-frequency trading, which are very interesting and I believe that not many schools offer courses like this.

In terms of the optional courses, we were given a long list of choices, as you can see in the MSc Finance, Technology and Policy programme structure. I chose the following:

  • Blockchain and Cryptofinance, which provided a technical perspective on blockchain
  • Blockchain, Governance, and Policy, which gave us conceptual and practical applications of implementing blockchain into organisations and society
  • The Human Factor, which discussed the examples of successful and unsuccessful user interface designs

Masterclasses, Workshops and Seminars

Besides the courses, we still had workshops and seminars from time to time. Some workshops were exclusively for FinTech students, such as the masterclass on Foreign Exchange by Professor Jessica James, an Oxford Graduate who works at Commerzbank.

Other events were joint events with other programmes or schools, such as a meeting with finance alumni, and seminars on banking regulations that were organised by the Law School. Actually, there were a few more events that were scheduled for us, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were all cancelled, along with our trek to Estonia, a model country in Europe for FinTech ecosystems.

London Trek

Although we weren't lucky enough to go to Estonia, we were still lucky enough to go to London plus a day-trip to RBS (yes, we were supposed to have two treks, one to London and one to Estonia!). The London Trek took place in reading week, which is a free-learning week (no classes) in the middle of the second semester. On the trip to London, we left on a Wednesday evening, and had a full rest before going on company visits on Thursday and Friday, which I very much appreciated, because it prevented us from being too tired during the visits.

On Thursday, we were separated into two groups: one to go to Clearmatics, and one to Thought Machine. I went to Thought Machine because they are more related to the banking field, which is where I'm going to be working after graduation. Thought Machine builds technology for banks, which can be a good alternative for banks that prefer not to use outsourcing.

After that, we went to Black Rock, a well-known asset management company where many finance students dream to work. Lastly, we went to the Bloomberg headquarters in London, which Mike Bloomberg calls his "second home". The offices were amazing and looked like a large cafe or co-working space, an environment very conducive to the open-door policy of the company.

The next day, we went to see Accenture's technology offices, before we had some free time in the afternoon. This allowed me to enjoy Borough Market, while some of my classmates went to Chinatown, before coming back to Edinburgh in the evening.

Soon after reading week, we were hit by COVID-19. Anyway, the teaching carried on through the university's online platform, which wasn't so bad, but for me couldn't replace meeting face-to-face. Once we are through quarantine safely, I hope future students will be able to enjoy all elements of the programme.

Immy Asavabhokhin is a student on the MSc in Finance, Technology and Policy