Caledonian Business School

  • MSc Financial Services, Risk and Operations
  • MSc Banking, Finance and Risk Management
  • BA/BA(HONS) Finance Investment and Risk (Light Touch Validation)


This suite of programmes was assessed by the IOR in November 2010. The following gives a summary of their key elements. The IOR considers these programmes fit-for-purpose; and appropriate for students seeking to build a career in risk management. Prospective students should consider this course in the context of other programmes on offer from other bodies.

GCU Background and Scope of the Validation

Caledonian Business School has a long history of providing undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in risk management. The School was the first in the UK to offer courses in risk management as early as the 1980s.

The School has an excellent reputation in the field of financial services risk management education and has a growing number of alumni working in the sector. Most modules are delivered by the School’s specialist department in Accounting, Finance and Risk, which is the largest of its kind in Scotland.

The School’s suite of programmes has grown in recent years and cover a range of topics. Courses include undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Risk Management (which have not yet been validated by the Institute), as well as more sector specific degrees in areas such as financial services risk management (the focus of this validation). All of these degrees share a common focus on risk and draw on the cross sector risk management expertise of the academics that make up the Accounting, Finance and Risk team.

For the purposes of the Institute’s initial validation of GCU’s risk management courses it was decided to focus on those targeted at the financial services sector, since this still represents the majority of our membership. However, while we have not yet reviewed the University’s other courses we have no reason to expect that they are in any way inferior to those which we have currently accredited.

Overview of Accredited Courses

The focus on the IOR’s accreditation was on the following Masters level programmes:

MSc Financial Services, Risk and Operations
MSc Banking, Finance and Risk Management

A lighter touch, paper based review was also performed on the following BA/BA(HONS) programme: Finance Investment and Risk. This programme was reviewed because it may be appropriate for members that do not have an undergraduate degree. Full details on this programme are not provided here, but can be downloaded via the following link:

As part of the above postgraduate programmes GCU offers a range of modules, of particular relevance include:

  • Managing Operational Risks in Financial Institutions
  • Bank Financial Risk Measurement and Management
  • Financial Market and Product Risk
  • Operations and Strategy in Financial Services
  • Financial Services Regulation
  • Research Methods and Dissertation

Each module requires around 150 hours of effort – including class based and private study.

Further information on the full contents of these programmes is available via the GCU website:

Duration and Mode of Study

For students studying full time each programme is completed over 3 trimesters, beginning in September (1), January (2) and May (3). Entry is permitted in September and January. Part-time students normally complete the course over two years, though they are allowed up to 3 years, where required by their work commitments.

In the past distance learning has also been available, but was recently suspended due to lack of demand. However this route might be made available if there was sufficient demand.

Location of Study

In addition to its main campus in central Glasgow, the Caledonian Business School has set up a new location in the City of London. Each of the two accredited MSc courses is on offer in both sites and staff travel between the two sites to ensure consistent delivery.

Entry Requirements

For admission applicants must have the equivalent of a UK undergraduate ordinary degree. Ideally this should be in an appropriate discipline such as accounting, finance, economics, financial services, etc. However all applications are given due consideration and exceptions may be made, for example where an applicant has appropriate work experience.

In the case of applicants whose first language is not English, then IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent) is required with a minimum of 5.5 in any one element. International qualifications will be checked for appropriate matriculation to UK Higher Education postgraduate programmes.

Postgraduate applicants are normally required to produce two supporting references, at least one of which should preferably be academic.

Method of Assessment

Modules are assessed using a combination of coursework and exam. Although in the case of the Dissertation it is 100% coursework, this being a piece of research on a relevant topic selected by the student in question.

In terms of the coursework component of each module a variety of assessment approaches are used including essays, presentations and case studies.

In addition continuous assessment has been introduced for most modules, where a small piece of work is set every 1-2 weeks. This aids student understanding and provides the opportunity for regular feedback. This move has been well received by the current student body.

Student Body

A good number of students come with several years of work experience and are fairly mature. Some are part time and working while studying.

Equally some of the full time students are sponsored by their employers, and so maintain good industry links.

The current cohort is around 75 strong and has grown steadily over the past few years – an example of the success of these programmes. Student feedback indicates that despite these quite large numbers for an MSc programme access to staff and resources is very good.

Employment Prospects Post Study

A postgraduate qualification cannot guarantee career advancement. However students are generally successful in advancing their careers. A strong alumni base helps in this regard. Many senior risk managers have degrees from GCU.

Course Tutors

The course is taught by a range of staff, many of whom have both practical and academic experience. In all cases staff maintain close industry links. This includes inviting a good range of external speakers to support the delivery of most modules.

Most staff are also research active and hence up to date with best practice in the field of risk management. A number of staff have published papers on operational risk management.

Staff profiles can be accessed via the following link:


The main Business School site in Glasgow is relatively new with modern facilities. Classrooms are fairly standard, with internet access, projectors, etc. There is access to online journals and databases such as Bloomberg and Bankscope. The main library building is also spacious and well equipped.

We have not visited the London site, but understand that it is also of a similar standard.

General Summary and Assessment

GCU is one of the leading Universities for financial services risk management education in the UK. It has a long history of delivering quality programmes in risk management and has a loyal, and generally very successful, alumni.

The option of London based study further adds to the appeal of this University, making it more accessible to a wider range of our membership.

The IOR endorses the following courses from GCU:

  • MSc Financial Services, Risk and Operations
  • MSc Banking, Finance and Risk Management
  • BA/BA(HONS) Finance Investment and Risk

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