MBAX9142 Financial Modelling - 2020

Term 1
6 Units of Credit

Offering Selection

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

Financial Modelling intends to make managers more confident and effective users of financial models, helping them to better understand and communicate the practical value of financial models, and to build this literacy for their future work. Key to this is a critical pedagogical approach that develops and refines students' high-level critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, alongside providing them with a set of practical tools and techniques to help them make effective judgements about a business's current financial situation and future performance based on best-practice financial modelling principles.

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

Students learn to review and critique financial models against best practice principles, analysing and breaking down complex problems into simple conceptual models. They also learn how to apply the tools and techniques of financial modelling to the analysis of real-world business problems and case studies. Finally, they learn to design and construct their own financial models that adhere to best-practice principles, evaluating and applying pertinent spreadsheeting techniques to solve complex problems.


Due to the nature of this course, it relies heavily on step-by-step instructional videos. Therefore, students will spend a large amount of time online and will need to have access to a reliable and robust internet connection throughout the term.

This course has been designed and developed with reference to Excel 2016 for Windows environments. If you undertake this course in an Apple-based environment, or with a different version of Excel, you may notice that some of the detailed instructions do not apply. For example, specific shortcuts or Ribbon references may be different.

Our recommendation is to undertake this course in a Windows-based environment, using Excel 2007 or newer. Mobile phone versions of Excel will not be sufficient to take this course. Current UNSW students are able to access Excel via their Office 365 account.

Additonal Course Details

3. Staff Contact Details

Position Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Course CoordinatorNathan McLean
Please contact me by email with any questions and I will endeavour to respond within 48 hours.

Each course has a Course Coordinator who is responsible for the academic leadership and overall academic integrity of the course. The Course Coordinator selects content and sets assessment tasks, and takes responsibility for specific academic and administrative issues related to the course when it is being offered. Course Coordinators oversee Class Facilitators and ensure that the ongoing standard of facilitation in the course is consistent with the quality requirements of the program.

4. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

Course Structure

Unit 1 - Foundations of financial modelling Part 1 - we consider the fundamental question of why we build financial models, and introduce some of the high-level methods employed when designing and constructing financial models. We also kick off our Excel 101 induction by showing you the settings that you should use to maximise your efficiency in Excel when creating financial models, as well as looking at absolute versus relative referencing, range names, functions and formulas, and lookups.

Unit 2 - Foundations of financial modelling, Part 2 - continues our Excel 101 induction by looking at hard-wiring, call-ups, worksheet structures, row totals, formatting and custom formats, conditional formatting, styles, and cross-sheet references.

Unit 3 - Foundations of financial modelling Part 3 - concludes our Excel 101 induction by looking at the trace precedents and dependents commands, shortcuts, paste links, timelines, flags, and finally the techniques required to account for weekdays, weekends and public holidays.

Unit 4 - Revenues and operating costs - examines the components of calculating revenue: volumes, escalation, fixed costs, and both direct and indirect variable costs.

Unit 5 - Capital expenditure and financing - examines the concept of capital assets - those things that enable a business to operate and generate revenue. We also look at how to calculate depreciation, and the two main sources of funds for new businesses: equity and debt.

Unit 6 - Tax, incorporates tax into your models - examining how to calculate tax depreciation and tax losses, and how to model tax paid.

Unit 7 - Integrated financial statements Part 1 - introduces the concept of financial statements, and '3-way' integrated statements, and looks in depth at two of the three types of financial statements: the income statement and the cash flow statement.

Unit 8 - Integrated financial statements Part 2 - looks in depth at the third type of financial statement: the balance sheet, including the need to construct control accounts. We conclude by demonstrating how the three financial statements all connect to form 3-way integrated statements.

Unit 9 - Valuation - examines the issues and challenges of valuation, and how to assess whether a business is a good investment. We cover how to calculate discounted cash flows, terminal value, net present value, internal rate of return, modified internal rate of return, and common financial ratios.

Unit 10 - Quality control - considers issues affecting the quality of financial models. We will discuss the need to incorporate checks and alerts, how to best handle errors in your model, and some of the bad modelling practices you need to avoid. We will also look at tools and tips for presenting the outputs of your models.

6. Course Resources

You have four major resources to help you learn:

  1. The course materials, comprising the study units with readings, references, insights and commentary are contained within UNSW Online accessed via Moodle.
  2. Your online classes with your facilitator. The facilitator's job is to guide your learning by conducting discussion in your online classroom, answering questions that might arise after you have done the week's work, providing insights from their practical experience and understanding of theory, providing you with feedback on your assignments, and directing discussions and debates that will occur between you and your co-participants in the online classroom.
  3. Your co-participants. Your colleagues in the classroom are an invaluable potential source of learning for you. Their work and life, and their willingness to question and argue with the course materials, the facilitator and your views, represent a great learning opportunity. They bring much valuable insight to the learning experience.
  4. In addition to course-based resources, please also refer to the AGSM Online Learning Toolkit (available in Moodle) for tutorials and guides that will help you learn more about effective study practices and techniques.

Course materials

The course materials comprise Course Overview, the Assessment Details and 10 Units. Each Unit has a number of associated activities to undertake.

Other resources


BusinessThink is UNSW's free, online business publication. It is a platform for business research, analysis and opinion. If you would like to subscribe to BusinessThink, and receive the free monthly e-newsletter with the latest in research, opinion and business, can be accessed here.

7. Course Evaluation & Development

Continual Course Improvement

AGSM courses are revised each time they run, with updated course outlines and assessment tasks developed. Changes relating to any industry developments will also be included.

Additionally, the AGSM surveys students each time a course is offered. The data collected provides anonymous feedback from students on the quality of course content and materials, class facilitation, student support services and the program in general. This student feedback is considered during all course revisions.

Student Response

In the last session where this course was run, there was 100% agreement to the question "Overall I was satisfied with the quality of the course". Some of the responses provided by students were:

Very well structured material, excellent videos, great enthusiasm from the facilitators in the videos, quick feedback. The materials are presented in a logical and easy to follow manner. Each step has built on the previous and is presented at just the right speed so that from a novices perspective, they have worked perfectly to guide me through the process. This has made it a very pleasurable and rewarding process. The worked activities were very helpful in helping to understand both good and bad techniques. The Pizza Planet model was also excellent in reinforcing the learning. Great to be able to work through an entire model from beginning to end and see the development. This is my 8th course in the AGSM MBA and my favourite to date. Exceptionally useful material, reinforcing both the accounting and finance subjects. The facilitators have clearly put in a huge amount of effort to bring it to this level - much more so than possibly any of the other facilitators in my experience (>150 videos,>30 activities). I have and will continue to recommend this subject to any of my cohort. Thank you for a great semester!

Response to Student Feedback

Given the unanimously positive feedback received from students, no changes to the course have been made for this upcoming session. Some students have indicated that they were expecting subject matter in relation to forecasting investment returns and the stock markets. I should reiterate that this course is not about undertaking financial analysis of investments for the purposes of prediction, but is instead about applying a problem solving methodology to understand and model the finances of businesses. Whilst the techniques learned would naturally assist with undertaking investment analysis, that is not the focus of this course.

8. Course Schedule

Week Activity Topic Detail/Engagement Assessment Task
Week 1 -Unit 1: Foundations of financial modelling, Part 1


Week 2 -Unit 2: Foundations of financial modelling, Part 2

Assessment 1 : Modelling task - 1A: Introductory modelling task (10%) due on Monday 24 Feb 2020 (Week 2) by 3pm Sydney time

Assessment 2: Capstone modelling task* ­- quiz (15%) released on Tuesday 25 Feb 2020 at 3pm Sydney time

Note: Assessment 2 can be submitted any time throughout the course until Monday 4 May (Week 12) at 3pm Sydney time

Assessment 1 : 1A: Introductory modelling task
Week 3 -Unit 3: Foundations of financial modelling, Part 3


Week 4 -Unit 4: Revenues and operating costs

Assessment 3a: Pizza Planet amendment #1 (15%) due Monday 9 March 2020 by 3pm Sydney time

Assessment 3 : 3A: Pizza Planet amendment #1
Week 5 -Unit 5: Capital expenditure and financing
Week 6 -Unit 6: Tax


Week 7 -Unit 7: Integrated financial statements, Part 1

Assessment 3B: Pizza Planet amendment #2 (15%) due Monday 30 March 2020 (Week 7) by 3pm Sydney time

Assessment 3 : 3B: Pizza Planet amendment #2
Week 8 -Unit 8: Integrated financial statements, Part 2


Week 9 -Unit 9: Valuation

Assessment 1B: Modelling critique - 750 words (15%) due Monday 13 April 2020 (Week 9) by 3pm Sydney time

Assessment 1 : 1B: Modelling critique
Week 10 -Unit 10: Quality control
Week 11 -
Week 12 Assessment 4: Exam-

Assessment 2: Submission Ensure you submit the Capstone Modelling Task before Monday 4 May (Week 12) at 3pm Sydney time

Assessment 4 (Online exam) questions released on Saturday 9 May 2020 (Week 12) (as individually scheduled)
Assessment 4: Submission (30%) due Saturday 9 May 2020, 2 hours after individual release

Assessment 4 : Limited duration online assessment

9. 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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