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Professional Standards and Development

Module description

This module includes two important aspects of professional development for the finance industry: career development and professional standards. The first section of the module (Career Development) helps students to acquire and develop the career management and employability skills necessary to craft and pursue their career goals. The second section of the module introduces students to the CFA Institute’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. In particular, it provides students with a foundation in the study of ethics, challenges to ethical behaviour, and the role played by ethics in the investment profession. Students will study real-world examples of ethical decision making. 

Additional Information: 

Internationalisation: This module incorporates the globally recognised?CFA Institute’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, which offers lifelong learning opportunities to guide investment professionals with ethical decision making throughout every stage of their careers.  

Sustainability: All of the lecture material and the basic text e-book are available on ELE (Exeter Learning Environment). 

External Engagement: This module follows the CFA curriculum. 

Employability: This course is designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge that will enhance their employability in the Finance industry. 

Full module specification

Module title:Professional Standards and Development
Module code:BEFM024
Module level:M
Academic year:2023/4
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Wei-Ming Lee -
  • Mr Simon Allington -
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:


Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Module aims

This module is designed to embed the development of career management skills that empower you to take control of your career, now and in future, and to help you develop the employability skills required to find and apply for appropriate positions in the finance industry and succeed in a competitive job market. On this module you will engage with a guided programme of career guidance and skills development that will help you better understand yourself, explore opportunities in your career areas of interest, make confident and informed decisions, and develop a detailed action plan of your next steps. Through the module you will engage with career coaching professionals, external experts in the finance industry, alumni and employer events, and guest speakers. The module also introduces ideas and concepts that will help you understand the importance of ethical behaviour in the finance industry. In addition to introducing you to the globally recognised CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, that CFA candidates must follow to achieve the broader industry expectations, you will also be able to demonstrate an understanding of the professional standards by analysing a real-world case study using the EthicalDecision Making Framework.  

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. identify, critically reflect on, and articulate your personal competencies and attributes (e.g. skills, strengths, values, motivations, personality, knowledge) and their relevance to effective career decision-making and the requirements of graduate job opportunities;
  • 2. demonstrate a capability for the practical aspects of managing your career and devise an action plan for short-to-medium term career development informed by your self-awareness and effective career research;
  • 3. analyse what recruiters are looking for and demonstrate strong abilities in providing examples of own experiences and tailoring your approach to suit their requirements;
  • 4. be able to distinguish between ethical and legal standards, describe the importance of maintaining professional standards in the investment industry, and apply the Ethical Decision-Making Framework using case studies based on real-world situations;
  • 5. be able to explain the ethical responsibilities required by the CFA Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct and describe why Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS) were created;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. research and analyse careers and employment opportunities in financial sectors of interest, utilising a wide range of reputable resources and available services;
  • 7. gain the confidence and clarity in navigating ethical issues within the investment management industry.?

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. exercise diligence, independence, and thoroughness in making ethical investment decisions.
  • 9. adapt and adjust both written and verbal communication styles, to meet the needs of diverse audiences, and be able to work effectively as an individual and in a group;
  • 10. develop self-awareness through a commitment to learning from experiences and taking responsibility for personal growth, and be able to organise and maintain your own programme of study to meet graduate recruitment and academic deadlines.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and teaching activities (Career)22Lectures
Scheduled Learning and teaching activities 14Workshops
Guided independent study 114Additional reading, career research, self-assessments, one-to-one career coaching appointments, web-based learning

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Draft parts of Career Development Portfolio 1500-2000 words 1-3, 6, 9, 10 Feedback given in seminar
The?Standards of Practice online?exam Contains 75 multiple-choice questions based on application of the Code and Standards – 4, 5, 7-9 Online feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Career Development Plan502000-2500 words 1-3, 6, 9, 10 Written
Career Progress Tracker 10Participation in short update surveys 1-3, 6, 9, 10 Online
Ethical MCQ Test 401 hour 3-5,8,10Online

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Career Development Portfolio Career Development Portfolio (50%) 2000-2500 words 1-3, 6, 9, 10 August
Career Progress Tracker Participate in short update survey and one-to-one career guidance appointment (10%) 1-3, 6, 9, 10 August
Ethical MCQ Test 1 hour 4, 5, 7-9 August

Syllabus plan

This module will run over two terms, starting with a Career Development Bootcamp during Induction, followed by careers and employability lectures and workshops during term one, and then a focus on ethics and professional standards in term two..The modulewill be delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, guest speaker sessions, individual research, and one-to-one career coaching sessions. The module will cover the following: 

  • Career management frameworks and action planning 

  • Building self-awareness of own strengths, values, personality and motivations as they relate to careers 

  • Graduate labour market and the practicalities and techniques for sourcing appropriate career opportunities in financial sectors of interest 

  • Employability skills for recruitment and selection, e.g. CVs and applications, interviews, assessment centres and psychometric testing 

  • Skills for managing a career, e.g. networking and resilience 

  • Ethics and trust in the investment profession  

  • Code of ethics and standards of professional conduct  

  • Professionalism and integrity in capital markets 

  • Global investment performance standards 

  • Ethical decision-making framework 

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading


Basic reading:




Hooley, T. and Grant, T. (2017). You’re Hired! Graduate Career Handbook: Maximise your employability and get a graduate job. Bath: Crimson 


Lees, J. (2020). How To Get A Job You Love 2021-2022 Edition. London: McGraw-Hill 

Inkson, K, Dries, N. and Arnold, J. (2015) Understanding Careers, London:  Sage 

Ethical and Professional Standards, CFA® Program Curriclum L1 and L2, CFA Institute 

The Standards of Practice Handbook, CFA Institute 


Web-based and electronic resources: 


Career Developmentonline careers resources:  


Career Zone Employment Sectors: Finance. 


Business School, Your Employability Skills (YES) – Postgraduate: 


Prospects: Information on job roles, sectors, employers and an online career assessment tool 


Profiling for Success: A self-assessment tool that can help you in your personal and career development. 



Professional Standards on-line resources: 

Module has an active ELE page?


Origin date


Last revision date