MFIN6210 Empirical Studies in Finance - 2018

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

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

The course provides a concise synthesis of the recent available literature on empirical studies in corporate finance, investments and asset pricing within a logical, analytical structure. Material covered includes agency theory, governance through institutional trading, concentrated institutional ownership, independent boards, do bidders gain from takeovers?, trading tournaments: households versus institutions and males versus females, the pricing of volatility and liquidity risk, and dividend policy together with imputation credits. Special attention will be given to selected topics in group and lab work. Much of this work is ten to fifteen years ahead of textbooks and represents innovative research at the forefront of the advancement of knowledge.

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 provide an accessible introduction to empirical studies in financial economics by going beyond the usual econometric/statistical issues. The subtext is to get you to think critically and take nothing for granted by highlighting big mistakes and big successes. MFINS6210 is one of the core courses in the Masters of Finance degree. Material covered in Financial Theory (MFIN6214) has direct relevance to this course. In particular, the course examines theoretical material covered in MFIN6214 in an applied empirical setting. The course will revisit topics relating to agency theory, asset pricing, market efficiency, capital structure, pricing of risk and corporate control. Students should also find some of the econometric techniques covered in Empirical Techniques and Applications in Finance (MFIN6201) useful in undertaking the group project and lab work.

2. Staff Contact Details

Position Title Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Lecturer-in-chargeProfPeter Swan AO FRSN FASSARoom 334, UNSW Business School+61 2 938 55871Wed 5:00pm-6:00pm

You can contact us by email or telephone, or call by my office during consultation hours. If you require a meeting outside my consultation hours, contact us to arrange a mutually convenient time. Students are encouraged to regularly check the Moodle site for course announcements. You will find our offices in the Business School building, Room 368 and 311, in the central section. Please use the West Wing elevator where the reception is, find the phone pad next to the glass door, hit the key # and dial my extension: 55984 or 55484.

We’ll come to open the door for you.

3. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

​The teaching and learning approach adopted emphasises the importance of developing critical thinking skills. This is achieved through a mix of formal lectures, lab sessions, discussion groups and group project work. An important part of the course is linking theoretical material covered in Financial Theory (MFIN6214) with appropriate empirical tests. This is achieved by using several learning techniques, including, class room discussions based on journal papers drawn from recent empirical research, group projects and lab sessions. Students will be expected to participate actively in all classroom activities and will have the opportunity to discuss their own findings from group project work in‐class.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

Lectures are conducted in 3-hour blocks. Several teaching strategies will be utilised to ensure the above learning outcomes are achieved. Lectures (where it is expected that there will be considerable student interaction) will be used to first cover the empirical research literature. Discussion groups, group work and lab sessions using actual data and in‐class discussion will be used to test both your understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of the literature and its application in an empirical setting. During a typical 3‐hour session, the first half of class will be devoted to covering the lecture material, which you will have read prior to class. The second half of the class will typically involve the use of discussion groups to debate key issues raised during the lecture. It is also expected that some time will be dedicated to discussing group project issues. Two lab sessions will be held during the semester in which students will manipulate large datasets in Excel and conduct econometric modelling using STATA.

5. Course Resources

All course lecture notes, information on assessments and discussion questions can be found on the subject web page (Moodle). Students are strongly advised to log into the subject web page at least once a week.
Course Text: No text has been assigned for this course. Instead, a combination of classic articles and recent research papers (usually two per week) will form the basis of the required reading for this course.
The website for this course is on Moodle at:
MFIN6210-Empirical Studies in Finance - Semester 1, 2018

6. Course Evaluation & Development

​Each year feedback is sought from students and other stakeholders about the courses offered in the School and continual improvements are made based on this feedback. UNSW's Course and Teaching Evaluation and Improvement (CATEI) Process is one of the ways in which student evaluative feedback is gathered. In this course, we will seek your feedback through the end of semester.

7. Course Schedule

Week 1: 26 Feb



  • Agency theory and empirical tests


• Ang, J., Cole, R. and J. Wuh Lin, ‘Agency costs and ownership structure’ Journal of Finance 55, 2000. • Masulis, R., Wang, C. and F. Xie, ‘Agency problems at dual-class companies’, Journal of Finance 62, 2008, 1851-1889.

Week 2: 05 Mar



  • CEO Incentives and Governance through Trading


  • Swan, Peter L. The Complementary Roles of Board Incentives and Market Monitoring: Theory and Evidence. UNSW Working Paper, 2016.
  • Gallagher, David R., Peter A. Gardner and Peter L. Swan. “Governance through Trading: Institutional Swing Trades and Subsequent Firm Performance”. Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis (JFQA) 48, No. 2, Apr. 2013, pp. 427–458.

Week 3: 12 Mar



  • Do concentrated institutional investors monitor?


• Hartzell, Jay C. and Laura T. Starks, 2003, “Institutional Investors and Executive Compensation,” Journal of Finance 58, 2351-2374. • Smith, Gavin S. and Peter L. Swan “Do Concentrated Institutional Investors Really Reduce Executive Compensation whilst Raising Incentives?,” Critical Finance Review, 2014, 3: 49–83

Week 4: 19 Mar



  • Independent Boards: Do they Add Value?


  • Adams, Renee B., Vanitha Ragunathan, and Robert Tumarkin (2016), “Death by Committee? An Analysis of Delegation in Corporate Boards”, UNSW Working Paper.
  • Swan, Peter L. (2016), The Complementary Roles of Board Incentives and Market Monitoring: Theory and Evidence. UNSW Working paper. (Empirical section).

Week 5: 26 Mar



  • Do Foreign Investors Arbitrage Away Australia’s Franking Credit Benefit?


• Swan, Peter L., Investment, the Corporate Tax Rate, and the Pricing of Franking Credits, Working Paper, January 2018.


In-Class Test


  • Mid-session multiple choice exam in usual lecture at regular Wednesday/Thursday/Friday times following lecture.




Group Project


Group Project details to be posted on Moodle and commenced.

Due in Week 11 (May 25th).

Mid Semester Break: 02 Apr

No formal activity

Week 6: 09 Apr

Lab Session I


Lab session: Data analysis I (manipulation and basic STATA commands). See lab folder on Moodle for additional readings (Locations to be announced)


Commence Group Assignment I

Week 7: 16 Apr

Lab Session II


Lab session: Data analysis II (multivariate analysis in STATA). See lab folder on Moodle for additional readings


Commence Group Assignment II

Week 8: 23 Apr

Due to Public Holiday, no formal activity


  • Wednesday April 25 (ANZAC day) is a national public holiday. Hence all lectures this week postponed to following week

Week 8: 30 Apr



  • Are Takeover Bids Destructive of Bidder Share Value?


• Ahern, Kenneth R., and Denis Sosyura, “Who Writes the News? Corporate Press Releases during Merger Negotiations”. Journal of Finance 69, 241-291. • Mark Humphery-Jenner, Ronald W. Masulis and Peter L. Swan. “Do Wealth Creating Mergers and Acquisitions Really Hurt Bidder Shareholders?”, UNSW Working Paper, 2017.

Week 9: 07 May



  • What kinds of risks are priced: Volatility risk or illiquidity?


  • Peter L. Swan, Investor heterogeneity, Pareto optimality, and the equity premium puzzle. Working Paper, 2017.
  • Brennan, Michael J., Tarun Chordia, Avandidhar Subrahmanyam, and Qing Tong, 2012, Sell-order liquidity and the cross-section of expected stock returns, Journal of Financial Economics 105, 523-541.

Week 10: 14 May



  • Who are the smartest traders: Households v. Institutional Investors, and Males v. Females?


• Lu, Wei, Peter L. Swan, and Joakim Westerholm, 2017, “Other People’s Money”: The Trading Performance of Household Investors vs. Delegated Money Managers, Working Paper, UNSW 2017.

• Lu, Wei, Peter L. Swan, and Joakim Westerholm, 2018, The Gender Face-Off: Do Females Traders come out On-Top, working paper UNSW.

Week 11: 21 May



  • Is Dividend Policy irrelevant? and Why do firms pay dividends?


  • Handley, John C., Dividend policy: Reconciling DD with MM, Journal of Financial Economics 87, 528–531, 2008.
  • Denis, David J. and Igor Osobov, Why do firms pay dividends? International evidence on the determinants of dividend policy, Journal of Financial Economics 89, 62-82.


Group Project


Submit to Moodle (or as specified) by Friday 25th May.


Group Project and Weeks 6 and 7 assignments, 35% of final grade

Week 12: 28 May

Revision and Final Exam


Bring along all your questions to be (hopefully) answered.


Multiple-choice in-class final test worth 20% of total grade.

Submit your summary of class participation to Moodle

8. Policies

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

Program Learning Goals and Outcomes

The Business School Program Learning Goals reflect what we want all students to BE or HAVE by the time they successfully complete their degree, regardless of their individual majors or specialisations. For example, we want all our graduates to HAVE a high level of business knowledge and a sound awareness of ethical, social, cultural and environmental implications of business. As well, we want all our graduates to BE effective problem-solvers, communicators and team participants.

You can demonstrate your achievement of these goals by the specific outcomes you achieve by the end of your degree (i.e. Program Learning Outcomes—henceforth PLOs). These PLOs articulate what you need to know and be able to do as a result of engaging in learning. They embody the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are identified, mapped, taught, practised and assessed within each Business School program.

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

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Undergraduate
  • Postgraduate Coursework
Knowledge You should be able to identify and apply disciplinary knowledge to business situations in a local and global environment.
Critical thinking and problem solving You should be able to identify and research issues in business situations, analyse the issues, and propose appropriate and well-justified solutions.
Written communication You should be able to prepare written documents that are clear, concise and coherent, using appropriate style and presentation for the intended audience, purpose and context.
Oral communication You should be able to prepare and deliver oral presentations that are clear, focussed, well-structured, and delivered in a professional manner.
Teamwork You should be able to participate collaboratively and responsibly in teams, and reflect on your own teamwork, and on the team’s processes and ability to achieve outcomes.
Ethical, social and environmental responsibility
  1. You should be able to identify and assess ethical, environmental and/or sustainability considerations in business decision-making and practice.
  2. You should be able to identify social and cultural implications of business.
Workplace skills (Co-op programs only) You should be able to conduct yourself in a professional manner in the work environment, communicate effectively in diverse workplace situations and be able to apply discipline knowledge and understanding to real business problems with initiative and self-direction.
Related PLO Documents View the Undergraduate Honours PLOs (pdf)
Knowledge You should be able to identify and apply current knowledge of disciplinary or interdisciplinary theory and professional practice to business in local and global environments.
Critical thinking and problem solving You should be able to identify, research and analyse complex issues and problems in business and/or management, and propose appropriate and well-justified solutions.
Written communication You should be able to produce written documents that communicate complex disciplinary ideas and information effectively for the intended audience and purpose.
Oral communication You should be able to produce oral presentations that communicate complex disciplinary ideas and information effectively for the intended audience and purpose.
Teamwork You should be able to participate collaboratively and responsibly in teams, and reflect on your own teamwork, and on the team’s processes and ability to achieve outcomes.
Ethical, social and environmental responsibility
  1. You should be able to identify and assess ethical, environmental and/or sustainability considerations in business decision-making and practice.
  2. You should be able to identify social and cultural implications of business.
Related PLO Documents View the Master of Philosophy PLOs (pdf)
View the Doctor of Philosophy PLOs (pdf)

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.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Knowledge
  • Oral communication
  • Research capability
  • Teamwork
  • Workplace skills
  • Written communication
Entrepreneurial leaders capable of initiating and embracing innovation and change, as well as engaging and enabling others to contribute to change
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Knowledge
  • Oral communication
  • Workplace skills
  • Written communication
Professionals capable of ethical, self- directed practice and independent lifelong learning
  • Ethical, social and environmental responsibility
  • Workplace skills
Global citizens who are culturally adept and capable of respecting diversity and acting in a socially just and responsible way.
  • Ethical, social and environmental responsibility
  • Oral communication
  • Written communication

The Business School strongly advises you to choose a range of courses that assist your development against these PLOs and graduate capabilities, and to keep a record of your achievements as part of your portfolio. You could use these records 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 nine to ten hours per week studying for a course except for Summer Term courses which have a minimum weekly workload of eighteen to twenty 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.

Special Consideration

You must submit all assignments and attend all examinations scheduled for your course. You can apply for special consideration when illness or other circumstances beyond your control, interfere with your performance in a specific assessment task or tasks. Special Consideration is primarily intended to provide you with an extra opportunity to demonstrate the level of performance of which you are capable.

General information on special consideration for undergraduate and postgraduate courses can be found in the Assessment Implementation Procedure and the Current Students page.

Please note the following:

  1. Applications will not be accepted by teaching staff. The lecturer-in-charge will be automatically notified when you lodge an online application for special consideration
  2. Decisions and recommendations are only made by lecturers-in-charge (or by the Faculty Panel in the case of final exam special considerations), not by tutors
  3. Applying for special consideration does not automatically mean that you will be granted a supplementary exam or other concession
  4. Special consideration requests do not allow lecturers-in-charge to award students additional marks

Business School Protocol on requests for Special Consideration

The lecturer-in-charge will need to be satisfied on each of the following before supporting a request for special consideration:

  1. Does the medical certificate contain all relevant information? For a medical certificate to be accepted, the degree of illness and its impact on the student must be stated by the medical practitioner (severe, moderate, mild). A certificate without this will not be valid. Students should also note that only medical certificates issued after physically visiting a registered medical practitioner will be accepted. Medical certificates submitted for Special Consideration should always be requested from a registered medical practitioner that you have seen at a medical practice. Certificates obtained online or via social media may be fraudulent and if relied upon could result in a breach of the UNSW Student Code.
  2. Has the student performed satisfactorily in the other assessment items? To understand what Satisfactory Performance means in this course, please refer to the 'Formal Requirements' section in Part A of your Course Outline

Special Consideration and the Final Exam in undergraduate and postgraduate courses

Applications for special consideration in relation to the final exam are considered by a Business School Faculty panel to which lecturers-in-charge provide their recommendations for each request. If the Faculty panel grants a special consideration request, this will entitle the student to sit a supplementary examination. No other form of consideration will be granted. The following procedures will apply:

  1. Supplementary exams will be scheduled centrally and will be held approximately two weeks after the formal examination period.

    Supplementary exams for Semester 1, 2018 will be held during the period 14 - 21 July, 2018. Students wishing to sit a supplementary exam will need to be available during this period.

    The date for all Business School supplementary exams for Summer Term 2017/2018 is Wednesday, 21 February, 2018. If a student lodges a special consideration for the final exam, they are stating they will be available on this date. Supplementary exams will not be held at any other time.

  2. Where a student is granted a supplementary examination as a result of a request for special consideration, the student’s original exam (if completed) will be ignored and only the mark achieved in the supplementary examination will count towards the final grade. Absence from a supplementary exam without prior notification does not entitle the student to have the original exam paper marked, and may result in a zero mark for the final exam.

The Supplementary Exam Protocol for Business School students is available at:

For special consideration for assessments other than the final exam refer to the ‘Assessment Section’ in your course outline.

Protocol for Viewing Final Exam Scripts

The UNSW Business School has set a protocol under which students may view their final exam script. Please check the protocol here.

Given individual schools within the Faculty may set up a local process for viewing final exam scripts, it is important that you check with your School whether they have any additional information on this process. Please note that this information might also be included in your course outline.

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

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 Centre
The UNSW Learning Centre provides academic skills support services, including workshops and resources, for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Educational Support Service
Educational 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. Check their website to request an appointment or to register in the Academic Success Program.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

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

Disability Support Services
UNSW Disability Support Services provides assistance to students who are trying to manage the demands of university as well as a health condition, learning disability or who have personal circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. Disability Advisers can arrange to put in place services and educational adjustments to make things more manageable so that students are able to complete their course requirements. To receive educational adjustments for disability support, students must first register with Disability Services.
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