Money is a crucial element of our everyday lives and why studying finance is one of the most sought-after degrees worldwide. Harbouring an understanding of finance is beneficial for the current job market and helps you with your personal finances.
If business, trading, investment and banking appeal to you, studying finance is a strong option for a successful future. Whether you have a clear career goal or are interested in learning more about the sector, this industry is ideal for financial enthusiasts.
What is finance?
Finance is the study of how an individual or company manages its funds. It teaches a deeper understanding of money and how it influences everyone and everything worldwide. Finance also focuses on the creation and study of money, how banking and investments work, and the liabilities which make up financial systems.
Finance covers all areas of money, and the degree you take can influence the aspects of finance you can focus on. It focuses on topics such as public insurance or international finance.
Your work experience needs to demonstrate skills which can be used in your degree such as analysis, mathematics and business skills.
A finance degree will set you up for a career in a full scope of jobs. Finance can be broken down into three types, personal finance, corporate finance and public (government) finance, and you can choose to specialise in either when you graduate. Personal finance involves an individual's money, and how they manage and spend it. Corporate finance focuses on companies and organisations. It involves their financial activities which help run a large organisation. Public finance is a wider issue. It’s to do with taxes, budgeting and how the government spends their money to help the public.
What are the modules for this course?
Finance courses can vary depending on the university and what you choose to specialise in.
Generally, these are the modules you can expect:
- Business ethics
- Business policy
- Business, government and society
- Financial accounting theory
- Financial management
- Financial reporting
- Introduction to macroeconomics
- IT for business
- Law of business
- Management accounting
- Personal, professional and academic effectiveness
- Principles of operations management
- Statistics and data management
What are the entry requirements?
Universities can vary by course on the specific requirements, however, generally, they ask for between 96-144 UCAS points.
- A-levels: Generally, these can range from CCC-AAA, with most universities and colleges asking for a minimum of BBB. For A-level subjects, maths and business are the most attractive options to demonstrate your talent. Although economics or statistics can be equally beneficial.
- BTECs: As an alternative to A-levels, BTECs are a great option to demonstrate your mathematics skills. Most universities will require grades ranging from DDD–MMP. For example, a relevant BTEC course is the Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Business, Marketing and Finance.
- Scottish Highers: Entry requirements for Highers ranges from BBBC to AAAAA with an average of AABBB depending on the university/college and course type. Sometimes, universities ask for Advanced Highers to add on to your Highers, at the grade AAB.
- International Baccalaureate (IB): For students studying the international baccalaureate, the average expected grade is 37–28 for accounting and finance degrees.
- Vocational courses: Other qualifications can include level 3 or level 6 qualifications as an alternative to A-levels or Highers by some universities or college course providers.
Aside from the essential qualifications, most universities will be looking for key skills such as analysis and strong number knowledge and experience. For experience, you could look into internships at a bank or shadowing a financial adviser.
Improving your insight into the finance world is valuable to your potential for the industry. Read publications such as The Financial Times, and The Guardian. Alternatively, check professional body websites such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) for additional educational information and research. Finance is a broad subject and showing your flair for academic theories will give you an advantage.
How do I write my personal statement for this subject?
Your personal statement for your finance degree needs to focus on three things: your passion, work experience and additional research, as well as considering your grammatical skill. Working in the finance sector, you will need to get used to paying close attention to detail and your personal statement is a great start.
It’s essential to talk about why you strive to pursue a career in finance, how finance is linked to your current studies, your awareness of finance and your commitment to the subject.
Your work experience needs to demonstrate skills which can be used in your degree such as analysis, mathematics and business skills. This is your opportunity to discuss your relevant extracurricular activities, internships or work placements.
More comprehensive research and reading are usually received well. Whether it’s relevant financial publications such as The Economist or any financial books which are suitable to your course. Explain how the books or publications have provided value to your learning and development or inspired you. Showing what you read and research demonstrates a commitment to the course. Any relevant interests can also be added here which is a huge benefit to your degree.
What books or equipment do I need?
For books and equipment, your university will recommend what you will need to read and use. Although to give you an advantage, there are many beneficial books and reading materials that offer you financial insight. For example, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff looks at the new phase in economic history. Another option is Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing by Benjamin Graham, one of the most influential books on investment.
As a sought-after career, the salary for a finance graduate can fluctuate depending on your employer, skill level and location.
With equipment, it’s essential to have stationery to stay organised and a laptop to work on assignments and take notes in lectures.
How will I be assessed?
Courses can vary on the type of assessments they include and with finance, it can change from module to module.
These are the assessment types for the majority of finance degrees:
- Group assignments
What are the career prospects?
Finance is a prosperous career with numerous career routes. The most popular choice of job is working in the accountancy industry. It usually requires further professional training and education but can set you up for life with a substantial career.
Other careers can see you working as a financial manager, or financial analyst, where you are responsible for managing a company’s assets. Your degree will also be valuable working in the business sector, whether it’s public or private. It's a career where you can work in international finance.
With a finance degree in hand, you can work self-employed, either for your own business or as a financial consultant. Being a freelancer comes with endless options as a graduate. It’s advised to gain a few years in the industry first to have a deeper understanding of what the financial world entails. Then, you can choose what to specialise in, whether it’s an accountant or financial adviser. You can set yourself up as a freelancer or create a business, hiring junior accountants under you.
What jobs can I get with this degree?
Jobs for finance graduates are available in all sectors at every level. They will be found in banks, insurance companies or professional service firms.
These jobs include:
- Business analyst
- Compliance manager
- Data analyst
- Finance manager
How does finance change at a postgraduate level?
For the postgraduate level, accounting and finance courses are designed for those who aspire to gain in-depth insight and understanding of the finance and accounting field and tailor their degree to suit their career aspirations. This all depends on if you are studying for a standard postgraduate finance qualification or specialising in a certain area. For example, an MSc in Finance teaches you about the aspects of finance at an international level, whilst an MBA in Banking and Finance prepares you for an advanced career in banking. The degree will focus on finance capabilities, personal skills and advanced knowledge of banking. Generally for assessment, you will complete exams and a dissertation.
Finance is the study of how an individual or company manages its funds.
Postgraduate degrees, such as a master's, take one to two years to study, whereas an undergraduate takes three years standard, and four years with a year in industry or study abroad. Studying a postgraduate will give you an advantage in your financial career because you will gain expert knowledge in your specialised field. Some examples of postgraduate qualifications include MSc in Finance, MBA in Banking and Finance, Financial Strategy PGDip, Accounting MSc, Corporate Finance MSc and Law and Finance MSc.
What is the average grad salary in this area?
As a sought-after career, the salary for a finance graduate can fluctuate depending on your employer, skill level and location. On average in the UK, a finance graduate's salary is between £23,000-£31,000. In London, the average salary for a graduate is slightly higher, at £34,000.
For more experienced financial workers, the average salary is £42,500. Most specialist workers can earn up to £70,000. This varies on the type of financial job and your role within the company. For example, an accountant’s salary is going to be different from a data analyst or tax adviser.