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During 2021 we will continue to support students who need to study remotely due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and travel restrictions. Make sure you check the location code when selecting a unit outline or choosing your units of study in Sydney Student. Find out more about what these codes mean. Both remote and on-campus locations have the same learning activities and assessments, however teaching staff may vary. More information about face-to-face teaching and assessment arrangements for each unit will be provided on Canvas.

Unit of study_

FINC3017: Investments and Portfolio Management

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.


Academic unit Finance
Unit code FINC3017
Unit name Investments and Portfolio Management
Session, year
Semester 1, 2021
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Remote
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Assumed knowledge

Introductory statistics, calculus and microeconomics

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator James Richard Cummings,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Final online exam
Online written exam
50% Formal exam period 1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO1 LO2 LO5
Assignment Report 1
Written report
25% Week 06
Due date: 16 Apr 2021

Closing date: 26 Apr 2021
5 A4 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO1 LO2 LO4
Assignment Report 2
Written report
25% Week 10
Due date: 14 May 2021

Closing date: 24 May 2021
5 A4 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?
  • Report 1: Each student will write an individual report about issues raised in a Harvard Business School case study on creating a culture of success at one of the United States’ largest public pension fund systems. 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 Kellogg School of Management case study on smart beta exchange-traded funds and factor investing. 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

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.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, 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 dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

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

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction (2 hr) LO1
Week 02 Investment vehicles (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5
Week 03 Risk and return (3 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 04 Capital allocation (3 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 05 Diversification and portfolio risk (3 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 06 Asset pricing (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 07 Multiple risk factors (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 08 Market efficiency (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5
Week 09 Performance evaluation (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5
Week 10 Hedge funds (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5
Week 11 Active portfolio management (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5
Week 12 Investment strategy (3 hr) LO1 LO5
Week 13 Professional development (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5

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. (2021), ISE Investments, 12th edition, McGraw Hill, ISBN 978-1-260-57115-8.

  • Week 1: Chapters 1 and 2; Week 2: Chapters 3 and 4
  • Week 3: Chapter 5; Week 4: Chapter 6
  • Week 5: Chapters 7 and 8; Week 6: Chapter 9
  • Week 7: Chapter 10; Week 8: Chapters 11, 12 and 13
  • Week 9: Chapter 24; Week 10: Chapter 26
  • Week 11: Chapter 27; Week 12: Chapter 28

Chapters from the textbook will be supplemented by journal articles. All the journal articles can be accessed through the Library Reading List, 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. critique asset pricing models and portfolio management strategies

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
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 the day 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.