ECON2050 – Money and Finance

2021 – Session 1, Special circumstances


As part of Phase 3 of our return to campus plan, most units will now run tutorials, seminars and other small group activities on campus, and most will keep an online version available to those students unable to return or those who choose to continue their studies online.

To check the availability of face-to-face and online activities for your unit, please go to timetable viewer. To check detailed information on unit assessments visit your unit's iLearn space or consult your unit convenor.

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit Convenor
Ha Vu
Contact via
4ER 426
Check ilearn for the update
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
50cp at 1000 level or above including ECON110 or ECON111 or ECON1020
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description

In order to provide students with a deep understanding of the nature of money, the role and characteristics of financial markets, along with the instruments and institutions that inhabit them, this unit examines the evolution of money and finance from pre-history until the present. Although the workings of the Australian financial system are explored, the unit has a very global focus. Topics may include: the meaning and nature of money; interest rate determination and the yield curve; central banking and the actions of monetary authorities; the innovations of behavioural finance and crypto-currencies; in-depth analyses of money markets, bond markets, equity markets, and derivatives markets. All these topics are examined both in terms of theoretical foundations and in contemporary practical applications. The central theme of the unit is that innovation in money and finance has been as important as innovation anywhere else in shaping the modern world.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: Identify, define and analyse contemporary issues in money and finance.
  • ULO2: Demonstrate a capacity to work independently, including the ability to research, form arguments, and write professionally proficient short-discussion pieces.
  • ULO3: Critique the academic literature, striving for alternative and creative ways of thinking in financial markets, and in business and policy environments.

General Assessment Information

Please note that since there are only SIX weeks in the first half of S1 2021, the Online Test 1 will take place in WEEK 6 (the week before the session break). More specifically, the test will be opened between 12pm and 6pm Wednesday March 31, 2021 (i.e., you can begin the test anytime within this 6-hour window. However, once you start the time will run consecutively until one hour is over). No submissions will be accepted after 6pm (AEST) on March 31, 2021

Assessment Tasks

Name Weighting Hurdle Due
Weekly Online Discussion 20% No Every week starting Week 2
Online Test 1 30% No Week 6 Wednesday 31 March 2021
Final Examination (online) 50% No During University Examination Period

Weekly Online Discussion

Assessment Type 1: Participatory task
Indicative Time on Task 2: 20 hours
Due: Every week starting Week 2
Weighting: 20%


Every week, students are required to post their response to the discussion question in iLearn.


On successful completion you will be able to:
  • Demonstrate a capacity to work independently, including the ability to research, form arguments, and write professionally proficient short-discussion pieces.
  • Critique the academic literature, striving for alternative and creative ways of thinking in financial markets, and in business and policy environments.

Online Test 1

Assessment Type 1: Quiz/Test
Indicative Time on Task 2: 16 hours
Due: Week 6 Wednesday 31 March 2021
Weighting: 30%


One-hour test will be held in week 7


On successful completion you will be able to:
  • Identify, define and analyse contemporary issues in money and finance.

Final Examination (online)

Assessment Type 1: Examination
Indicative Time on Task 2: 35 hours
Due: During University Examination Period
Weighting: 50%


A two-hour online examination (open book) will be held during the University Examination period.


On successful completion you will be able to:
  • Identify, define and analyse contemporary issues in money and finance.
  • Critique the academic literature, striving for alternative and creative ways of thinking in financial markets, and in business and policy environments.

1 If you need help with your assignment, please contact:

  • the academic teaching staff in your unit for guidance in understanding or completing this type of assessment
  • the Learning Skills Unit for academic skills support.

2 Indicative time-on-task is an estimate of the time required for completion of the assessment task and is subject to individual variation

Delivery and Resources

Each week, there will be a pre-recorded lecture posted on the unit iLearn page, along with the lecture slides.

Starting in Week 2, there will be one-hour live zoom class, Wednesday 12-1pm, to discuss questions regarding the lecture topics.

All materials for the unit, such as pre-recording lectures, lecture notes, readings, and discussion questions will be available to students on the unit iLearn site at Students are strongly encouraged to check the unit iLearn page weekly for announcements as well as the unit schedule, additional readings, assessment information, and discussion questions.

There is no prescribed textbook for Econ2050.

Recommended Texts and/or Materials

(i) Kidwell, D. et al. 2019, Financial Markets, Institutions and Money (4th edn), Australian Edition, John Wiley & Sons Australia.

(ii) Madura, J. 2018, Financial Markets and Institutions (12th edn), Cengage Learning, 

(iii) Niall Ferguson (2008) ‘The Ascent of Money’, Allen Lane (Penguin), London.

This book provides an overview of the history of money and finance. What makes this different to most books recommended for courses such as this is that it is also great fun to read – full of drama, violence, scandal, passion, crime, and so on – in short, all the things that really drive money and finance. It takes its story all the way up to mid-2008. A television series on the book was also made in 2008, and it is available on YouTube at

(iv) Felix Martin (2014) 'Money: The Unauthorized Biography--From Coinage to Cryptocurrencies'. Here is the review of the book from the New York Times:

(v) Mervyn King (2016) 'The end of Alchemy: Money, Banking and the future of the Global Economy'. Here is the review of the book from the New York Times:

(vi) Glyn Davies (2016) 'A History of money from ancient times to the present day', 4th. ed. revised by Duncan Connors, Cardiff: University of Wales Press. 

Other useful resources:

Technology Used and Required

iLearn; i-Lecture

Unit Schedule

Lecture Topics

Topic 1: Introduction

This topic provides you an overview of what money is and why we need to study money and finance. It also touches upon all the topics to be discussed throughout this course.

Topic 2: The Evolution of Money in Theory and Practice 

This topic examines how money and finance have evolved through times. We will first look into the functions and attributes of money in modern society. From there we will then go back in time to see how it got to the current status. 

Topic 3: Interest Rates, their determination and structure

This topic examines two theories of interest rate determination, and four theories of term structure which can be used to explain different shapes of the yield curve.

Topic 4: Central Banking and Monetary Policy

In this topic we’ll look at two main functions of central banks, the important of central bank independence, and the implementation of monetary policy.

Topic 5: Money Markets

This topic focuses on the basic role and functions of money markets, money market instruments, and money markets post-GFC.

Topic 6: Bond Markets

In this topic we’ll look at the market for long-dated securities, or bonds. More specifically, we will look at the importance of bonds, and the history of bonds. Then we'll take the US a case study to see how bonds help with a nation-building. Finally, we'll move to the modern bond market and different types of capital securities.

Topic 7: Equity Markets

In this topic we’ll look at another capital market which is equity market. At first we’ll look at the origins of the stock market, starting with foundation of the first company, VOC. Then we’ll examine the modern equity markets in terms of types of equity securities, the primary and secondary markets for equities. Then we'll move to talk about share market indices and whether the share market is a predictor of the future state of the economy. Lastly, we'll talk about the big change in recent times, the whole story of exchange traded funds and the rise of high frequency trading.

Topic 8: Derivatives and Options Markets

In this topic, at first we'll look at some basics, in which highlights that derivatives began in a way for people in the real economy to manage risks. Then we'll get into some specific types of derivative markets including forwards and futures, options. Then we will look at swap and credit default swap, and finally some reforms in the derivatives markets post GFC.

Topic 9: Behavioural Finance

Traditional finance theory is built on the notion that the actions of economic agents are guided by the criterion of maximizing expected utility. Behavioral finance (BF) takes the position that not all economic decisions can be described by the equilibrium conditions in such an economy.

In this topic, first we’ll look at what is BF and how and why they began, more specifically we will examine some stylized facts that were inconsistent with the rational utility-maximizing representative agent. Then we will look at the two theories of BF: Heuristics or the rules of thumb, and Prospect theory, which is about how our mind limits decision making process.

Topic 10: Modern forms of currencies

And we will end this course with some recent development in the world of digital and crypto currencies. 

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Research and Practice

This unit makes extensive use of Macquarie University researchers, as can be seen from the reading guide, lecture slides, and elsewhere.