Finance and Society
This module sets out to look at finance in relation to a broad range of social issues mainly from the perspective of the sociology of finance. The issues are selected for interest and are intended to promote debate. The main background reading will be from a small number of recommended books and articles but students will be expected to read more widely and to review the treatment of finance in at least one book. Students will be expected to lead at least one seminar with an introduction to one or more books recommended for review.
This module is open to any final year undergraduate student.
Full module specification
|Module title:||Finance and Society|
|Duration of module:||
Duration (weeks) - term 2: |
The aim of the module is to encourage students to think about finance in a broader social context and from a variety of perspectives. To facilitate this, wide and diverse reading is encouraged, and students are expected to lead seminars.
ILO: Module-specific skills
- 1. explain different perceptions of finance in society
- 2. evaluate the role of finance in its broader social context
- 3. assess perceptions of finance in a variety of media including the financial press, art, and in particular fiction
ILO: Discipline-specific skills
- 4. identify and explain perceptions of financial management and decision-making from a variety of traditions and perspectives
ILO: Personal and key skills
- 5. select and synthesize appropriate material from a range of sources (both academic and popular)
- 6. analyse, communicate and present ideas, principles and evidence that support a reasoned and consistent argument
Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||Guided independent study||Placement / study abroad|
Details of learning activities and teaching methods
|Category||Hours of study time||Description|
|Schedule Learning and Teaching||22||Lectures|
|Scheduled learning and teaching||5||Seminars|
|Guided Independent Study||32||Preparatory reading - reading prior to taught sessions|
|Guided Independent Study||32||Reflection and further reading - guided reading and completion of exercises|
|Guided Independent Study||59||Assignment preparation - researching and writing an assignment|
|Form of assessment||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Seminar Discussion||Hour-long seminars||1-5||Verbal from tutor|
Summative assessment (% of credit)
|Coursework||Written exams||Practical exams|
Details of summative assessment
|Form of assessment||% of credit||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Book Review||40||1,500 words||1-3, 6||Written individual feedback|
|Exam||60||1.5 hours||1-6||Generic on ELE|
Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)
|Original form of assessment||Form of re-assessment||ILOs re-assessed||Timescale for re-assessment|
|Book review||40||1-3, 6||August Examination Period|
If the student fails the module overall, only individual elements which have been failed/deferred will be assessed.
The core content of the module will include:
- The Sociology of Finance - modern finance looks and sounds like the Great Oz from The Wizard of Oz; sociologists are always trying to find ways to look behind the curtain.
- Economics - are financial markets efficient? Or is the efficient market hypothesis performative? Do you have to believe in efficient markets to work in finance?
- Markets - what do financial markets do? Where can they be found? What is it like to work in one?
- Politics - do financial institutions have too much influence in politics? How many politicians have connections with the finance sector?
- Crises - how is the global financial crisis 2008 remembered? Who really suffered from the global financial crisis of 2008? Should anyone still be punished for it?
- Class - how does the ideal of meritocracy fit with the observation that the smartness of investment bankers is represented by their default upper-classness, maleness, whiteness, and straightness?
- Gender - is investing essentially a masculine or a feminine activity? Are women essentially more risk averse than men? If they are, what are the business implications of having only a small minority of women in senior positions in finance?
- Inequality - is the finance sector to blame for increasing levels of inequality in society?
- Financialization - why is it that financial motives, markets, and institutions play an increasing role in our personal lives, society, and the economy?
- City of London - how important is the finance sector for London and the UK? Are international financial centres such as London destined to decline with the rise of electronic networks and trading that can supposedly be carried out anywhere in the world?
Indicative learning resources - Basic reading
Augar, P. (2008). The death of gentlemanly capitalism: the rise and fall of London's investment banks: London: Penguin.
Knorr Cetina, K., & Preda, A. (2012). The Oxford handbook of the sociology of finance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lanchester, J. (2014). How to Speak Money. London: Faber & Faber.
Luyenndijk, J. (2015). Swimming with sharks: My journey into the world of bankers. London: Guardian Books / Faber & Faber.
Shiller, R. J. (2013). Finance and the good society. Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Tett, G. (2009). Fool's Gold: how the bold dream of a small tribe at J.P. Morgan was corrupted by Wall Street greed and unleashed a catastrophe. New York: Free Press.
Toynbee, P., & Walker, D. (2008). Unjust rewards: Exposing greed and inequality in Britain today. London: Granta.
Walsh, J. P. (2009). Are US CEOs Overpaid? A Partial Response to Kaplan. Academy of Management Perspectives, 23(1): 73-75.
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Last revision date