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Unit of study_

FINC3017: Investments and Portfolio Management

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit is designed to provide a comprehensive analytical approach to the modern theory of investments. Topics covered include: mean-variance analysis; Markowitz type portfolio analysis; portfolio construction; asset pricing theories; market efficiency and anomalies; hedge funds and investment fund performance evaluation. Although analytical aspects of investments theory are stressed, there is also an equal amount of coverage on the practical aspects of portfolio management. Current research on investments is emphasised in the course.

Unit details and rules

Unit code FINC3017
Academic unit Finance
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

Introductory statistics, calculus and microeconomics

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator James Cummings,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam Final online exam
Online written exam
50% Formal exam period 1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Report 1
Written report
25% Week 07
Due date: 09 Apr 2020 at 23:59

Closing date: 19 Apr 2020
5 A4 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO4
Assignment Report 2
Written report
25% Week 10
Due date: 08 May 2020 at 23:59

Closing date: 18 May 2020
5 A4 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

Assessment summary

  • Report 1: Each student will write an individual report about issues raised in Ivey Business School case studies on concepts of risk, suitability, fiduciary relationships and fairness within an investing context. Instructions and marking criteria for the report will be provided on Canvas.
  • Report 2: Each student will write an individual report about issues raised in a Harvard Business School case study on fundamentally oriented growth investing, the capacity of different investment strategies and the optimal scale of an investment fund that is employing a particular investment strategy. Instructions and marking criteria for the report will be provided on Canvas.
  • Final online exam: The final exam will cover the topics studied throughout the semester.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school. 


75 - 84

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


65 - 74

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


50 - 64

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school. 


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 02 Investment vehicles Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 03 Risk and return Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 04 Diversification and portfolio risk Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 05 Asset pricing Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 06 Market efficiency Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 07 Debt securities Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 08 Industry analysis Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 09 Equity securities Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 10 Illiquid investments Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 11 Performance evaluation Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 12 Investment strategy Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 13 Review Lecture (2 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

Lecture recordings: All lectures are recorded and will be available on Canvas for student use. Please note the Business School does not own the system and cannot guarantee that the system will operate or that every class will be recorded. Students should ensure they attend and participate in all classes.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Bodie, Z., Kane, A. and Marcus, A.J. (2019), ISE Essentials of Investments, 11th edition, McGraw Hill, ISBN 978-1-260-28839-1 (denoted BKM on the reading list).

  • Week 1: Chapters 1 and 2; Week 2: Chapters 3 and 4
  • Week 3: Chapter 5; Week 4: Chapter 6
  • Week 5: Chapter 7; Week 6: Chapters 8 and 9
  • Week 7: Chapters 10 and 11; Week 8: Chapter 12
  • Week 9: Chapters 13 and 14; Week 11: Chapter 18
  • Week 12: Chapter 22

Chapters from the textbook will be supplemented by journal articles. All the journal articles can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. apply the fundamentals of investment theory to construct portfolios and evaluate their performance
  • LO2. interpret current academic research and identify how it guides investment decision making and portfolio construction in practice
  • LO3. use Microsoft Excel to solve and analyse investment problems
  • LO4. communicate clearly and succinctly in writing
  • LO5. use Bloomberg to identify, extract and manipulate data to analyse investment issues.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

The number of assessment tasks has been reduced to two assignments and one final exam.
  • Face-to-face: Lectures will be used to set the scene and show how the topic fits into the overall unit of study aims. Tutorials will help you to further your understanding and apply concepts to more difficult problems.
  • Print: Chapters from the textbook and specified articles should be read prior to attending the lecture each week. Homework problems will be assigned at the end of lectures and these should be completed before coming to the tutorial the following week
  • Online: Canvas ( provides the main online learning support. You should log in at least twice per week to keep abreast of unit-wide announcements and use the resources to supplement your learning. Lecture slides will be available by the Friday before each lecture for you to download from Canvas. Solutions to homework problems will be made available online after the problems are discussed in the tutorial.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.