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Professional Standards and Development

Module description

This module combines two important aspects of professional development for the finance industry: career development and professional standards. Initially students receive an overview and practical workshops on roles in Investment Banking and Asset Management, followed by information on the latest industry recruitment procedures. 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 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 Jane Shen - Convenor
  • Jenni Philipps - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






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


Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Module aims

The module is designed to enhance your employability through a guided programme of study that will prepare you to find and apply for appropriate positions in the finance industry. Careers guidance and skills development will be delivered through seminars, workshops and online resources. You are expected to engage with alumni and potential employers with the support from the Post Graduate Employability and Careers Consultant in the Business School Careers Team.

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 Ethical Decision Making Framework.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. be able to demonstrate a capability for the practical aspects of managing your career, locate appropriate services and resources that will help you with your career planning and graduate job search;
  • 2. describe the process of job acquisition, with specific regard to the various types of process that might be involved in applying for and securing graduate level jobs;
  • 3. be able to distinguish between ethical and legal standards, and describe the importance of maintaining professional standard in the investment industry;
  • 4. 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;
  • 5. be able to apply the Ethical Decision-Making Framework using case studies based on real-world situations.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. demonstrate a strong understanding of employability formulas, such as the ‘STAR technique’ and the ‘Present-Past-Future technique’ to construct interview answers;
  • 7. practise and develop your skills at CVs and application forms, through analysing what is required by recruiters, by reflecting on company values and the job description;
  • 8. gain the confidence and clarity in navigating ethical issues within the investment management industry.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. identify, critically reflect on, and provide examples of own experiences that demonstrate your personal and key skills and their relevance to graduate employment;
  • 10. exercise diligence, independence, and thoroughness in making ethical investment decisions;
  • 11. work independently, as an individual or in a group; organising and maintaining 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)10Lectures
Scheduled Learning and teaching activities (Career)19Workshops
Scheduled learning and teaching activities (Ethics)3Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities (Ethics)4Workshops
Guided independent study (Career)46Additional reading, career research and one-to-one careers appointments
Guided independent study (Ethics)68Reading and research, web-based activities

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Mock interview1 mock interview of 30 minutes1, 6, 9Immediate feedback after interview
Personal Branding (CV & LinkedIn) 1-2 page CV1, 2, 6, 7, 9,11Written feedback from the PGT Employability and Careers Consultant
CFA Ethical Challenge Case StudyParticipation 3 – 5, 8, 10,11Immediate feedback after presentation
The Standards of Practice online examContains 75 multiple-choice questions based on application of the Code and Standards3 - 5Online 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 Plan20300 – 600 words1,2,6,7,9,11Written feedback from the PGT Employability and Careers Consultant
Application Assignment301000 words1,2,6,7,9,11Written feedback from the PGT Employability and Careers Consultant
Ethical case study group Assignment (5 students per group)502000 – 2500 words3-5,8,10Written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Career Development Plan Career Development Plan (20%, 300-600 words)1,2,6,7,9,112 - weeks
Application Assignment Application Assignment (30%, 1000 words)1,2,6,7,9,112 - weeks
Ethical Case group assignment (5 students per group)Ethical Case Study Individual Assignment (50%, 2000- 2500 words)3-5,8,10,114 - weeks

Syllabus plan

The module will run over two terms plus an introduction lecture in the Introduction Week. It will be delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, guest speaker sessions and online resources. The module will cover following

  • Career planning & resilience in the workplace
  • Finding and applying for finance jobs
  • Psychometric testing and assessment centres
  • Personal branding & networking skills
  • Applying the competency framework in a CV, application form and interview setting
  • 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:


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


[RA1] Cuddy, A. (2016). Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. London: Orion Publishing Group.


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


The Standards of Practice Handbook, CFA Institute




Career Zone on-line careers resources:








Professional Standard on-line resources:


Ethical Decision Making:


Professional Conduct:



Module has an active ELE page?


Origin date


Last revision date