COMM5005 Quantitative Methods for Business - 2020

Term 3
6 Units of Credit
This course outline is for the current semester. To view outlines from other years and/or semesters, visit the archives

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

This course provides an introduction to the mathematical and statistical tools required in a business degree. There is an emphasis on problem solving by both manual and computer methods. The first half of the course focuses on algebra and graphs, financial mathematics and optimisation methods including linear programming and calculus. The second half of the course focuses on developing quantitative data analysis skills through probability, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics and linear regression (simple and multiple regression using cross sectional data).

Teaching Times and Locations

Please note that teaching times and locations are subject to change. Students are strongly advised to refer to the Class Timetable website for the most up-to-date teaching times and locations.

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

​This course aims to enhance your ability to analyse financial and economic data and thereby to assist in making business decisions. It is one of the three Data Analysis Core Courses of the MCom program from which students must select one, and is recommended for students in specialisations where quantitative skills are required. It is designed for those who have had little or no quantitative training in their undergraduate degree but who need mathematical and statistical skills for specialisations in the areas of Finance, Economics, Accounting and Business Strategy. Students of these disciplines who already have a good understanding of basic statistics may benefit from selecting ECON5248 Business Forecasting instead of this course as their data analysis core course. While the skills learned in COMM5005 are also relevant for other MCom specialisations, students from Marketing, Information Systems and Management disciplines will usually find COMM5011 Data Analysis for Business more appropriate to select as their data analysis core course. That course has a lesser focus on mathematics and a greater focus on analysing textual data.

2. Staff Contact Details

Position Title Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Lecturer-in-chargeDrShengyu LiOffice: Room 442A, UNSW Business School.9385 7482Thursday, 10am-12pm; or by appointment. Online consultation over Zoom: link will be announced.

In addition to the listed consultation times above, a limited number of slots are available per week for consultation appointments to be made by email at a mutually convenient time. During Weeks 9 and 10, consultation hours will be announced on Moodle. Other staff contact details will be made available on the course website in Moodle.

Student Enrolment Requests

Students can vary their own enrolment (including switching lecture streams or tutorials) via myUNSW until the end of Week 1. In general, most other student enrolment requests should be directed to The Nucleus: Student Hub (formerly Student Central). These include enrolment in full courses or tutorials, course timetable clashes, waiving prerequisites for any course, transfer-of-credit (international exchange, transfer to UNSW, cross-institutional study, etc.), or any other request which requires a decision about equivalence of courses and late enrolment for any course. Where appropriate, the request will be passed to the School Office for approval before processing. Note that enrolment changes are rarely considered after Week 2 classes have taken place.

3. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

​This course aims to enhance your ability to analyse financial and economic data and thereby to assist in making business decisions. It also aims to prepare you for further MCom courses which require the use of numerical skills. Mathematical skills can only be acquired by sustained practice in problem solving. It is often some years since postgraduate students have used basic techniques so renewing “rusty” skills is an important objective. You must learn to organise your independent study and practise a sufficient number of problems to gain a thorough understanding of concepts and how to apply them.

The lectures will be delivered online (in real time), and lecture recordings will be also available to stream and download to accommodate students studying from alternate time zones. Tutorials will be offered in two formats: face-to-face and online (in real time). Students should check their individual timetables. Tutorials will not be recorded.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

In this course you are expected to be an active learner rather than just sitting and listening in class. You are expected to have at least 4 hours (per week) of engagement in structured learning activities, including lectures and tutorial sessions.

During the term, short online activities will be available to support your learning, including online quizzes and eLearning tutorials. Feedback on these activities will be provided promptly.

The assignment in this course will test your ability to analyse data, to use the Microsoft Excel program, and to think critically. Some knowledge of current events in business and research into the relevant local government areas of New South Wales will add to your understanding of the assignment material. You will need to start early to research the topic of your assignment and prepare materials for the second phase of the assignment in which you will analyse the data you have collected, and write a report.

You will also need to have, or independently develop, good calculator skills in order to perform well in the final exam. Familiarity with the use of memories and built-in functions will increase your speed in solving problems. Students who have not practiced maths for some time can be quite slow in doing calculations and this can affect their exam results adversely.

The object of this course is not to memorise information. Therefore the mid-term assessment and final exam will have an open-book format. The focus of the assessment will be on your understanding of concepts, your ability to apply formulae appropriately, and your problem solving and critical thinking skills.

5. Course Resources


There are two required textbooks for this course:

Haeussler, E.F. Paul, R.S and Wood, R.J. 2018, Introductory Mathematical Analysis for Business, Economics and the Life and Social Sciences 14th ed., Pearson.

​Available to purchase from
​Text Standalone9780134141107​UNSW bookstore or Pearson

Berenson, M., Levine, D., Szabat, K., O’Brien, M., Jayne, N. and Watson, J., 2018, Basic Business Statistics: Concepts and Applications, 5th ed., Pearson Australia, Melbourne, Vic

​Available to purchase from
​Text Standalone
9781488617249​UNSW bookstore or Pearson
​Downloadable eText9781488620201
UNSW bookstore or Pearson

Reference texts that should be available in the library are:

  • Swift, L. and Piff, S. 2014 Quantitative Methods for Business, Management and Finance, 4th ed Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Tannous, K., Brown, R.L., Kopp, S., and Zima, P. 2013 Mathematics of Finance , McGraw-Hill Education (Australia), North Ryde.
Note that the 13th edition of the Haeussler et al textbook and the 4th edition of the Berenson et al textbook can be used in this course. However, students should note that some chapters and exercises will be aligned/numbered differently to the two latest editions used in this course. It is hence the student's responsibility to identify which of the exercises assigned for homework from the current editions align to the exercises in the previous textbook editions.


The course website can be accessed via Moodle.


For many years we have offered PASS, the Peer Assisted Support Scheme, for undergraduate students. PASS puts concepts into practice through workshops where pairs of leaders are available to help you review course materials and attempt problems. The emphasis is on active participation by students. Now the Business School is supporting PASS for postgraduates and we are able to offer weekly PASS classes for COMM5005 students, which you can attend on a voluntary basis.

Information on the timetable for COMM5005 PASS sessions of this term will be announced on the course website and in lectures once the date, time and locations have been confirmed.


A basic scientific calculator is required for this course. It must be able to perform logarithmic and exponential calculations such as ln x, and ex .

Computer and Software

For homework and your assignment you will need to use a computer with the Microsoft Excel program installed. No matter whether you use a Windows machine or a Mac computer, make sure that you have the Excel version that enables Analysis Toolpak Add-ons. You can find more information on how to check and how to install Toolpak for both operation platforms in this page:

6. Course Evaluation & Development

Feedback is regularly sought from students and continual improvements are made based on this feedback. At the end of this course, you will be asked to complete the myExperience survey, which provides a key source of student evaluative feedback. Your input into this quality enhancement process is extremely valuable in assisting us to meet the needs of our students and provide an effective and enriching learning experience. The results of all surveys are carefully considered and do lead to action towards enhancing educational quality.

​​​The School of Economics strives to be responsive to student feedback. If you would like more information on how the design of this course and changes made to it over time have taken students’ needs and preferences into account, please contact the Director of Education at the School of Economics.

Consent for De-Identified Data to be Used for Secondary Research into Improving Student Experience

To enhance your student experience, researchers at UNSW conduct academic research that involves the use of de-identified student data, such as assessment outcomes, course grades, course engagement and participation, etc. Students of this course are being invited to provide their consent for their de-identified data to be shared with UNSW researchers for research purposes after the course is completed.

Providing consent for your de-identified data to be used in academic research is voluntary and not doing so will not have an impact on your course grades.

Researchers who want to access your de-identified data for future research projects will need to submit individual UNSW Ethics Applications for approval before they can access your data.

A full description of the research activities aims, risks associated with these activities and how your privacy and confidentiality will be protected at all times can be found here.

If you consent to have your de-identified data used for academic research into improving student experience, you do not need to do anything. Your consent will be implied, and your data may be used for research in a format that will not individually identify you after the course is completed.

If you do not consent  for this to happen, please email the opt-out form  to  to opt-out from having your de-identified data used in this manner. If you complete the opt-out form, the information about you that was collected during this course will not be used in academic research.

7. Course Schedule

Note: for more information on the UNSW academic calendar and key dates including study period, exam, supplementary exam and result release, please visit:
Week Activity Topic Assessment/Other
Week 1: 14 SepLecture

Lecture 1:

- Introduction.

- Describing a mathematical problem.

- Functions and graphs.

Readings: Haeussler, Paul, and Wood (HPW) Ch 2, 3, 4.

Week 2: 21 SepLecture

Lecture 2:

- Solving equations and inequalities.

- Financial maths: interest rates, present and future values.

Readings: HPW Ch 0.7-0.8, 1.1-1.3, 3.4, 3.6, 5.1-5.4.


Tutorial 1.

Tutorial materials covering topics in Lecture 1.

Week 3: 28 SepLecture

Lecture 3:

- Financial maths: calculating annuities (ordinary, due, deferred), loan amortisation and sinking funds.

- Introduction to Differentiation.

Readings: HPW Ch 5.4-5.6, 11, 12.1-12.5.


Tutorial 2.

Tutorial materials covering topics in Lecture 2.

Week 4: 5 OctLecture

Lecture 4:

- Differentiation with applications; partial derivatives. Finding the best solution: maxima and minima.

- Linear programming.

Readings: HPW Ch 7.1-7.3, 12.1-12.3, 12.5, 12.7, 13.1-13.6, 17.1-17.3.

Quiz 1.


Tutorial 3.

Tutorial materials covering topics in Lecture 3.

Week 5: 12 OctTutorial

Tutorial 4.

Tutorial materials covering topics in Lecture 4.

Mid-term assessment

Online Mid-term assessment.

Online Mid-term assessment covering material in Week 1-4 (inclusive), starting from Saturday 10am and with an access window of 24 hours.

Week 6: 19 OctLecture

Lecture 5:

- Describing data: tables and charts.

- Measuring central tendency and dispersion.

- Introduction to probability (marginal and conditional).

Readings: Basic Business Statistics (BBS) Ch 2, 3, 4.

Week 7: 26 OctLecture

Lecture 6:

- Probability and expectation.

- Evaluating parameters: the uniform, binomial and normal distributions; sampling distributions.

Readings: BBS Ch 4, 5, 6, 7.


Tutorial 5.

Tutorial materials covering topics in Lecture 5.

Week 8: 2 NovLecture

Lecture 7:

- Confidence interval estimation.

- Hypothesis testing and Type I and II errors.

- Simple linear regression.

Readings: BBS Ch 8, 9, 12.


Tutorial 6.

Tutorial materials covering topics in Lecture 6.

Week 9: 9 NovLecture

Lecture 8:

- Estimating and interpreting regression output and parameters.

- Simple and multiple linear regression.

Readings: BBS Ch 12, 13, 14.

Quiz 2.



Tutorial 7.

Tutorial materials covering topics in Lecture 7.

Week 10: 16 NovTutorial

Tutorial 8.

Tutorial materials covering topics in Lecture 8.

Assignment due November 20, 2020.

8. Policies and Support

Information about UNSW Business School protocols, University policies, student responsibilities and education quality and support.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Business School places knowledge and capabilities at the core of its curriculum via seven Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs). These PLOs are systematically embedded and developed across the duration of all coursework programs in the Business School.

PLOs embody the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are taught, practised and assessed within each Business School program. They articulate what you should know and be able to do upon successful completion of your degree.

Upon graduation, you should have a high level of specialised business knowledge and capacity for responsible business thinking, underpinned by ethical professional practice. You should be able to harness, manage and communicate business information effectively and work collaboratively with others. You should be an experienced problem-solver and critical thinker, with a global perspective, cultural competence and the potential for innovative leadership.

All UNSW programs and courses are designed to assess the attainment of program and/or course level learning outcomes, as required by the UNSW Assessment Design Procedure. It is important that you become familiar with the Business School PLOs, as they constitute the framework which informs and shapes the components and assessments of the courses within your program of study.

PLO 1: Business knowledge

Students will make informed and effective selection and application of knowledge in a discipline or profession, in the contexts of local and global business.

PLO 2: Problem solving

Students will define and address business problems, and propose effective evidence-based solutions, through the application of rigorous analysis and critical thinking.

PLO 3: Business communication

Students will harness, manage and communicate business information effectively using multiple forms of communication across different channels.

PLO 4: Teamwork

Students will interact and collaborate effectively with others to achieve a common business purpose or fulfil a common business project, and reflect critically on the process and the outcomes.

PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Students will develop and be committed to responsible business thinking and approaches, which are underpinned by ethical professional practice and sustainability considerations.

PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

Students will be aware of business systems in the wider world and actively committed to recognise and respect the cultural norms, beliefs and values of others, and will apply this knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.

PLO 7: Leadership development

Students will develop the capacity to take initiative, encourage forward thinking and bring about innovation, while effectively influencing others to achieve desired results.

These PLOs relate to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs.  Separate PLOs for honours and postgraduate research programs are included under 'Related Documents'.

Business School course outlines provide detailed information for students on how the course learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment/s contribute to the development of Program Learning Outcomes.



UNSW Graduate Capabilities

The Business School PLOs also incorporate UNSW graduate capabilities, a set of generic abilities and skills that all students are expected to achieve by graduation. These capabilities articulate the University’s institutional values, as well as future employer expectations.

UNSW Graduate CapabilitiesBusiness School PLOs
Scholars capable of independent and collaborative enquiry, rigorous in their analysis, critique and reflection, and able to innovate by applying their knowledge and skills to the solution of novel as well as routine problems.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Entrepreneurial leaders capable of initiating and embracing innovation and change, as well as engaging and enabling others to contribute to change
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Professionals capable of ethical, self-directed practice and independent lifelong learning
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Global citizens who are culturally adept and capable of respecting diversity and acting in a socially just and responsible way.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

While our programs are designed to provide coverage of all PLOs and graduate capabilities, they also provide you with a great deal of choice and flexibility.  The Business School strongly advises you to choose a range of courses that assist your development against the seven PLOs and four graduate capabilities, and to keep a record of your achievements as part of your portfolio. You can use a portfolio as evidence in employment applications as well as a reference for work or further study. For support with selecting your courses contact the UNSW Business School Student Centre.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Academic Integrity is honest and responsible scholarship. This form of ethical scholarship is highly valued at UNSW. Terms like Academic Integrity, misconduct, referencing, conventions, plagiarism, academic practices, citations and evidence based learning are all considered basic concepts that successful university students understand. Learning how to communicate original ideas, refer sources, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that you will be able to carry beyond your studies.

The definition of academic misconduct is broad. It covers practices such as cheating, copying and using another person’s work without appropriate acknowledgement. Incidents of academic misconduct may have serious consequences for students.


UNSW regards plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct. UNSW has very strict rules regarding plagiarism. Plagiarism at UNSW is using the words or ideas of others and passing them off as your own. All Schools in the Business School have a Student Ethics Officer who will investigate incidents of plagiarism and may result in a student’s name being placed on the Plagiarism and Student Misconduct Registers.

Below are examples of plagiarism including self-plagiarism:

Copying: Using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the source or using quotation marks. This includes copying materials, ideas or concepts from a book, article, report or other written document, presentation, composition, artwork, design, drawing, circuitry, computer program or software, website, internet, other electronic resource, or another person's assignment, without appropriate acknowledgement of authorship.

Inappropriate Paraphrasing: Changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and/or progression of ideas of the original, and information without acknowledgement. This also applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit and to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without appropriate referencing.

Collusion: Presenting work as independent work when it has been produced in whole or part in collusion with other people. Collusion includes:

  • Students providing their work to another student before the due date, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time
  • Paying another person to perform an academic task and passing it off as your own
  • Stealing or acquiring another person’s academic work and copying it
  • Offering to complete another person’s work or seeking payment for completing academic work

Collusion should not be confused with academic collaboration (i.e., shared contribution towards a group task).

Inappropriate Citation: Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from which knowledge of them has been obtained.

Self-Plagiarism: ‘Self-plagiarism’ occurs where an author republishes their own previously written work and presents it as new findings without referencing the earlier work, either in its entirety or partially. Self-plagiarism is also referred to as 'recycling', 'duplication', or 'multiple submissions of research findings' without disclosure. In the student context, self-plagiarism includes re-using parts of, or all of, a body of work that has already been submitted for assessment without proper citation.

To see if you understand plagiarism, do this short quiz:


The University also regards cheating as a form of academic misconduct. Cheating is knowingly submitting the work of others as their own and includes contract cheating (work produced by an external agent or third party that is submitted under the pretences of being a student’s original piece of work). Cheating is not acceptable at UNSW.

If you need to revise or clarify any terms associated with academic integrity you should explore the 'Working with Academic Integrity' self-paced lessons available at:

For UNSW policies, penalties, and information to help you avoid plagiarism see: as well as the guidelines in the online ELISE tutorials for all new UNSW students: For information on student conduct see:

For information on how to acknowledge your sources and reference correctly, see: If you are unsure what referencing style to use in this course, you should ask the lecturer in charge.

Student Responsibilities and Conduct

​Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to university policies in relation to class attendance and general conduct and behaviour, including maintaining a safe, respectful environment; and to understand their obligations in relation to workload, assessment and keeping informed.

Information and policies on these topics can be found on the 'Managing your Program' website.


It is expected that you will spend at least ten to twelve hours per week studying for a course except for Summer Term courses which have a minimum weekly workload of twenty to twenty four hours. This time should be made up of reading, research, working on exercises and problems, online activities and attending classes. In periods where you need to complete assignments or prepare for examinations, the workload may be greater. Over-commitment has been a cause of failure for many students. You should take the required workload into account when planning how to balance study with employment and other activities.

We strongly encourage you to connect with your Moodle course websites in the first week of semester. Local and international research indicates that students who engage early and often with their course website are more likely to pass their course.

View more information on expected workload


Your regular and punctual attendance at lectures and seminars or in online learning activities is expected in this course. The Business School reserves the right to refuse final assessment to those students who attend less than 80% of scheduled classes where attendance and participation is required as part of the learning process (e.g., tutorials, flipped classroom sessions, seminars, labs, etc.).

View more information on attendance

General Conduct and Behaviour

You are expected to conduct yourself with consideration and respect for the needs of your fellow students and teaching staff. Conduct which unduly disrupts or interferes with a class, such as ringing or talking on mobile phones, is not acceptable and students may be asked to leave the class.

View more information on student conduct

Health and Safety

UNSW Policy requires each person to work safely and responsibly, in order to avoid personal injury and to protect the safety of others.

View more information on Health and Safety

Keeping Informed

You should take note of all announcements made in lectures, tutorials or on the course web site. From time to time, the University will send important announcements to your university e-mail address without providing you with a paper copy. You will be deemed to have received this information. It is also your responsibility to keep the University informed of all changes to your contact details.

Student Support and Resources

​The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services and resources for students, including:

Business School EQS Consultation Program
The Consultation Program offers academic writing, literacy and numeracy consultations, study skills, exam preparation for Business students. Services include workshops, online resources, individual and group consultations. 
Level 1, Room 1035, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 4508

Communication Resources
The Business School Communication and Academic Support programs provide online modules, communication workshops and additional online resources to assist you in developing your academic writing.

Business School Student Centre
The Business School Student Centre provides advice and direction on all aspects of admission, enrolment and graduation.
Level 1, Room 1028 in the Quadrangle Building
02 9385 3189

UNSW Learning & Careers Hub
The UNSW Learning & Careers Hub provides academic skills and careers support services—including workshops, individual consultations and a range of online resources—for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Student Support Advisors
Student Support Advisors work with all students to promote the development of skills needed to succeed at university, whilst also providing personal support throughout the process.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

International Student Support
The International Student Experience Unit (ISEU) is the first point of contact for international students. ISEU staff are always here to help with personalised advice and information about all aspects of university life and life in Australia.
Advisors can support you with your student visa, health and wellbeing, making friends, accommodation and academic performance.
02 9385 4734

Equitable Learning Services
Equitable Learning Services (formerly Disability Support Services) is a free and confidential service that provides practical support to ensure that your health condition doesn't adversely affect your studies. Register with the service to receive educational adjustments.
Ground Floor, John Goodsell Building.
02 9385 4734

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services
Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling.
Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 5418

Library services and facilities for students
The UNSW Library offers a range of collections, services and facilities both on-campus and online.
Main Library, F21.
02 9385 2650

Moodle eLearning Support
Moodle is the University’s learning management system. You should ensure that you log into Moodle regularly.
02 9385 3331

UNSW IT provides support and services for students such as password access, email services, wireless services and technical support.
UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor).
02 9385 1333

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