FINS5541 Advanced Investment and Advanced Funds Management - 2023

Subject Code
Study Level
Commencing Term
Term 1
Total Units of Credit (UOC)
Delivery Mode
Banking & Finance

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

This course covers advanced topics in investments and active funds management, namely:

  1. equity valuation,
  2. alternative investments, and
  3. portfolio performance measurement and active portfolio management.
The first part covers security analysis based on discounted cash flow analysis.

The second part covers investments in asset classes other than publicly traded stocks and bonds. Alternative investments have acquired increasing relevance for institutional investors such as endowments, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds. Since alternative investments are exposed to different risk and rewards than traditional investments, they can be useful ways for investors to diversify their risks.

The final part focuses on advanced issues of performance measurement for active investors and optimal portfolio management. These include strategies to deal with estimation error in portfolio optimization and methods recently proposed to address that.

As a postgraduate level course, the course puts great emphasis on discussing recent relevant research on each topic.

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

The course aims to complement the training provided in FINS5513, focusing on topics either introduced in that course or not covered but still a core part of the body of knowledge for the finance profession and investments in particular.

One of the main aims of the course is to provide students with training in security analysis. That is methods for security analysts to search for under-valued / over-valued securities relative to some objective criteria.

Another focus of the course is alternative investments. Alternative investments can refer to financial assets other than (publicly traded) stocks and bonds such as private equity, commodities and currencies. Alternative investments can also refer to approaches different from the conventional buy and hold passive strategy. Since alternative assets have specific risks and rewards, they can offer a potential way for investors to diversify their risk. The same can apply to hedge fund strategies like liquidity provision, volatility scaling and others. This course aims to explain the essential concepts behind these alternative asset classes, with a major focus on alternative hedge fund strategies.

Finally, one essential aim of the course is to assess the performance of fund managers and use that information to manage portfolios including both passive benchmarks and actively managed funds. The main empirical challenges of portfolio management are also addressed.

As most courses in finance, this course requires some basic knowledge of mathematics, statistics and accounting.

2. Staff Contact Details

Position Title Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Lecturer-in-chargeMrHaoxu Wang305C, UNSW Business School Building – Ref E12

3. Learning and Teaching Activities

Use of your Webcam and Digital Devices: If you enrol in an online class, or the online stream of a hybrid class, teaching and associated activities will be conducted using Teams, Zoom, or similar a technology. Using a webcam is optional, but highly encouraged, as this will facilitate interaction with your peers and instructors. If you are worried about your personal space being observed during a class, we encourage you to blur your background or make use of a virtual background. Please contact the Lecturer-in-Charge if you have any questions or concerns.

Some courses may involve undertaking online exams for which your own computer or digital devices will be required. Monitoring of online examinations will be conducted directly by University staff and is bound by the University's privacy and security requirements. Any data collected will be handled accordance with UNSW policies and standards for data governance. For more information on how the University manages personal information please refer to the UNSW Student Privacy Statement and the UNSW Privacy Policy.

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

We seek to create an interesting, challenging, relevant and engaging education experience. To help achieve this objective we have a number of teaching aims:

  • Create a climate of engagement, dialogue and ongoing feedback between students and lecturers regarding the content, teaching strategies, learning experiences and outcomes;
  • Cater for a variety of learning preferences and abilities by providing a range of learning activities and teaching methods;
  • Develop independent learning skills and create an environment that provides both structure and guidance as well as encourages students to extend their learning.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

The (online) lecture

The (online) lectures set out the main conceptual frameworks for each topic. They synthesize materials from various sources. You are advised to start with the (online) lectures to get the main ideas and then read the textbooks and other relevant materials. From a time management perspective, this means you will need to allocate at least 10 hours per week for the online lecture and reading. We bring current research to class. We do this by presenting and discussing recent papers on topics of interest to the course. In the lectures we will also solve exercises to facilitate the interpretation of each topic’s most important insights and develop problem-solving skills. These should also help prepare you for the exams. Please note that the course has no tutorials and the time for solving exercises in the lectures is very limited. Successful preparation for the exams builds on actively going through the examples in the slides and solving problems and exercises provided by the lecturer as well as those in the recommended textbooks for the chapters covered. You are strongly encouraged to form a study group with colleagues to go through this active learning process.

5. Course Resources

The website for this course is on Moodle.

There is no fixed textbook requirement for this course.

However, much of the course relies on materials from three books:

  • Anson, M. J. P., Chambers, D. R., Black, K. H., & Kazemi, Hossein. (2012). CAIA level I : an introduction to core topics in alternative investments (Second edition.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. [CAIA]
  • Bodie, Z., Kane, A., & Marcus, A. J. (2018). Investments (11th edition.). McGraw-Hill Education. [BKM]
  • Damodaran, A. (2012). Investment valuation : tools and techniques for determining the value of any asset (3rd ed.). Wiley. [D]

Lecture slides and practice questions will be posted on Moodle and those should be the core elements of your study materials. The books are additional and complementary references for your study. Copies of the books are available for purchase at the UNSW Book Store but you may also just borrow the books from the UNSW Library. If your budget is limited the (decreasing) order of importance of the books for this course is D, BKM, CAIA.

Other books that are related to the content of the course are:

  • Ang, A. (2014). Asset management : a systematic approach to factor investing. Oxford University Press.
  • Damodaran, A. (2006). Damodaran on valuation : security analysis for investment and corporate finance (Second edition.). Wiley.
  • Krugman, P. R., Obstfeld, M., & Melitz, M. J. (2012). International economics : theory & policy (9th ed., Global ed.). Pearson Education. [KOM]
  • Pedersen, L. H. (2015). Efficiently inefficient : how smart money invests and market prices are determined. Princeton University Press. [P]
  • Reilly, F. K., & Brown, K. C. (2012). Investment analysis & portfolio management (10th ed.). South-Western Cengage Learning.

The course puts a major emphasis on relevant, recent research in financial markets. The exams can include questions on the papers presented in class. You should be able to refer their main findings and discuss how they fit in the global picture of the course content. Below is a list of relevant papers that we will present and discuss (note this list is not exhaustive, other papers can be presented and discussed as well):

  • Asness, C. S., Krail, R. J., & Liew, J. M. (2001). Do hedge funds hedge?. The Journal of Portfolio management, 28(1), 6-19.
  • Asness, C., Frazzini, A., Israel, R., & Moskowitz, T. (2014). Fact, fiction, and momentum investing. The Journal of Portfolio Management, 40(5), 75-92.
  • Asness, C., Frazzini, A., Israel, R., & Moskowitz, T. (2015). Fact, fiction, and value investing. The Journal of Portfolio Management, 42(1), 34-52.
  • Asness, C. S., Frazzini, A., & Pedersen, L. H. (2019). Quality minus junk. Review of Accounting Studies, 24(1), 34-112.
  • Barroso, P., & Santa-Clara, P. (2015). Beyond the carry trade: Optimal currency portfolios. Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, 50(5), 1037-1056.
  • Barroso, P., & Saxena, K. (2021). Lest we forget: using out-of-sample forecast errors in portfolio optimization. The Review of Financial Studies, 35, 1222-1278.
  • Brandt, M. W., Santa-Clara, P., & Valkanov, R. (2009). Parametric portfolio policies: Exploiting characteristics in the cross-section of equity returns. The Review of Financial Studies, 22(9), 3411-3447.
  • DeMiguel, V., Garlappi, L., & Uppal, R. (2009). Optimal versus naive diversification: How inefficient is the 1/N portfolio strategy?. The Review of Financial studies, 22(5), 1915-1953.
  • Edelen, R. M., Ince, O. S., & Kadlec, G. B. (2016). Institutional investors and stock return anomalies. Journal of Financial Economics, 119(3), 472-488.
  • Frazzini, A., Kabiller, D., & Pedersen, L. H. (2018). Buffett’s alpha. Financial Analysts Journal, 74(4), 35-55.
  • Malkiel, B. G., & Saha, A. (2005). Hedge funds: Risk and return. Financial Analysts Journal, 61(6), 80-88.

Popular / classical / non-technical books related to the course content (not strictly required but always good reading material):

  • Bernstein, P. L. (1996). Against the gods : the remarkable story of risk. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Buffett, W., & Cunningham, L. A. (2014). The essays of Warren Buffett : lessons for investors and managers (4th edition.). John Wiley & Sons Singapore.
  • Graham, B., & Dodd, D. L. (2009). Security analysis : principles and technique (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill.
  • Lewis, M. (2016). Liar's poker. Hodder.
  • Lowenstein, R. (2000). When genius failed : the rise and fall of Long-Term Capital Management. Fourth Estate.
  • Malkiel, B. G. (2015). A random walk down Wall Street : the time-tested strategy for successful investing ([2015 edition]). W.W. Norton & Company.
  • Taleb, N. (2007). The Black swan : the impact of the highly improbable. Allen Lane.

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.

​Previous feedback has informed decisions to change the delivery of the course and enhance student experience. Examples of such changes include: creation of a discussion forum to extend peer-to-peer communication, creation of practice questions (with solutions), creation of an online quiz to provide early feedback, moving the midterm exam to week 6, increasing weighting of the midterm exam, introducing a week of revision for the midterm exam (week 6) and reducing a bit the topics covered. These are sensible changes that have been suggestions of previous students in feedback surveys. So, providing feedback on these surveys closes the loop in your learning experience and fosters continuing improvement for your future colleagues.  

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: 13 FebruaryGeneral Note

Please note that the course schedule is subject to revision. Any updates will be communicated to students via Moodle.


Introduction to Valuation

References: D2-3 and D9

Week 2: 20 FebruaryLecture

From Earnings to Cash Flows and Estimating Growth

References: D10-D11

Week 3: 27 FebruaryLecture

Estimating Terminal Value, Dividend Discount Model (DDM), and Free Cash Flows to Equity Discount Model (FCFE)

References: D12-D14

Week 4: 6 MarchLecture

Relative Valuation, Earnings Multiples and Recent Research on Fundamental Analysis

References: D17-18


Week 5: 13 MarchLecture

Private Equity

References: D24, CAIA20-22

Week 6: 20 MarchLecture

Midterm Review and Q&A Session.


Midterm Exam

Week 7: 27 MarchLecture

Commodities and Currencies

References: CAIA18, KOM14 and P11

Week 8: 3 AprilLecture

Portfolio Performance Evaluation

References: BKM24

Week 9: 10 AprilLecture

Hedge Funds

References: BKM26, P (Introduction and Chapter 1)

Week 10: 17 AprilLecture

Active Portfolio Management and Advanced Topics in Portfolio Management

References: BKM27, Brandt et al. (2009), DeMiguel et al. (2009), Barroso and Santa-Clara (2012).


Week 11: 24 April
Exams: 1 May
Exams: 8 May

8. Policies and Support

Information about UNSW Business School program learning outcomes, academic integrity, student responsibilities and student support services. For information regarding special consideration, supplementary exams and viewing final exam scripts, please go to the key policies and support page.

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.  For PG Research PLOs, including Master of Pre-Doctoral Business Studies, please refer to the UNSW HDR Learning Outcomes

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 Services team.

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

Attendance and Engagement

Your regular attendance and active engagement in all scheduled classes and online learning activities is expected in this course. Failure to attend / engage in assessment tasks that are integrated into learning activities (e.g. class discussion, presentations) will be reflected in the marks for these assessable activities. The Business School may 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.). If you are not able to regularly attend classes, you should consult the relevant Course Authority.

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 Learning Support Tools
Business School provides support a wide range of free resources and services to help students in-class and out-of-class, as well as online. These include:

  • Academic Communication Essentials – A range of academic communication workshops, modules and resources to assist you in developing your academic communication skills.
  • Learning consultations – Meet learning consultants who have expertise in business studies, literacy, numeracy and statistics, writing, referencing, and researching at university level.
  • PASS classes – Study sessions facilitated by students who have previously and successfully completed the course.
  • Educational Resource Access Scheme – To support the inclusion and success of students from equity groups enrolled at UNSW Sydney in first year undergraduate Business programs.

The Nucleus - Business School Student Services team
The Nucleus Student Services team provides advice and direction on all aspects of enrolment and graduation. Level 2, Main Library, Kensington 02 8936 7005 /

Business School Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
The Business School Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee strives to ensure that every student is empowered to have equal access to education. The Business School provides a vibrant, safe, and equitable environment for education, research, and engagement that embraces diversity and treats all people with dignity and respect.

UNSW Academic Skills
Resources and support – including workshops, individual consultations and a range of online resources – to help you develop and refine your academic skills. See their website for details.

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 9065 9444

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

Support for Studying Online

The Business School and UNSW provide a wide range of tools, support and advice to help students achieve their online learning goals. 

The UNSW Guide to Online Study page provides guidance for students on how to make the most of online study.

We recognise that completing quizzes and exams online can be challenging for a number of reasons, including the possibility of technical glitches or lack of reliable internet. We recommend you review the Online Exam Preparation Checklist of things to prepare when sitting an online exam.