First Year Economics Students Choosing Optional Modules
For people studying Economics or a degree under the umbrella of the Economics department, this is that time of year where you choose your optional modules. For L100 students, that means two additional modules, each usually worth 15 CATS each. Here, I will give my perspective on the two I chose: Foundations of Accounting and Foundations of Finance. In summary, I believe these are great modules for people interested in a career in finance and who want assurance that hard work will pay off.
What do I mean by “hard work will pay off”; surely that applies to all modules? Well, depending on what you excel at, I would argue that this is not necessarily the case. I can plough through an essay and put everything I have into making it my best and still, it might just scrape a 2:1. However, I can assure you that if you commit to doing all the problem sets for IB1330 and IB1320 (Foundations of Accounting and Foundations of Finance, respectively), you will get a very good mark in the exam.
One tip I do have is to not just take my perspective as given (unless it strongly resonates with you), but to talk to different people that have taken different modules, because, through Ray Dalio’s method of triangulation (fascinating approach if you want to look it up), you will get a clearer picture of the truth. Talk to your Econ mentors, second years you’ve seen at society events and more – we’d be happy to help. Funnily enough, it was at a networking event that I met a second-year Economics student who suggested I take Foundations of Accounting because it would help me develop a stronger ground-level understanding in finance to build upon.
Here’s an overview of the module contents:IB1330 (Foundations of Accounting): The core of this module is understanding the interaction between the three core financial statements; the income, cash flow statements and balance sheet (a.k.a statement of financial position). My favourite thing about this module was that the lecturer (along with some humour) applied our learning to Sainsbury’s annual accounts and I firmly believe that being able to deep dive into a company is one of the greatest learning exercises one can undertake. We also got an insight into some of the ‘tricks’ that accountants might play and how to apply ratios to gather information about a company’s financial health.
IB1320 (Foundations of Finance): At the heart of this module were formulas; from calculating an annuity, discounting the future cash flows of a project or even how to show our inherent risk aversion, learning the formulas made this a great subject for those that enjoy applied maths. Also, learning about beta and the CAPM model served as great prerequisites in preparing for technical interview questions if you’re planning to go into Investment Banking, just as an example. As a final thing, aside from making the module look more complicated than it seemed through throwing in the Greek Alphabet, I enjoyed the hints and tricks we learnt, such as hearing about Seeking Alpha (albeit US-focused).
Even though I don’t want you to just take my word for it, I do recommend these modules, not just for their ‘work hard, do well’ nature, but also their relevance to certain lines of work many Economics students aspire towards.