'If you've enjoyed maths and business at school, you'll find it appealing'

What are the entry requirements for this course?

UK students need 220 Ucas points, from a minimum of two A-levels or equivalent, plus GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and maths, grade A-C. International students need an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of six or equivalent.

Who applies?

Financial management attracts a diverse group of people from all sorts of age groups and backgrounds. The type of people attracted to this programme are those who like to work with numbers and analyse financial data, which is used for business problem-solving and decision-making. If you've enjoyed studying maths and business studies at school, then there's a fair chance you'll find financial management appealing.

What does the course involve?

Teaching is a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops. It is not all about theory: there are opportunities for practical and skill-based sessions.

Year one students will look at things such as spreadsheets, balance sheet accounts and financial ratios. In year two, students analyse why organisations use financial information and in year three they learn how to interpret that information and why it is important for businesses and organisations.

There are also specialist areas that year three students look at, such as corporate governance and audit, and corporate, social and environmental accounting.

Programmes are usually taught by staff whose background is from the accounting, financial and banking professions.

There will often be opportunities to study abroad. Industrial placement programmes are also an option, where students spend a year out working in industry developing transferable skills through practical experience. Many students have said that this time spent abroad helps in achieving a higher classification degree and can provide a bit of a leg-up in the employment market.

How long does it last?

The programme lasts three years, or four if you do an industrial placement.

How would I be assessed?

There are a variety of assessment methods, including analysing company accounts, timed, constrained assessments, essays, research and case studies. Some universities, including Sunderland, are moving away from exam-based assessment strategy towards a more assignment-based strategy.

Are there opportunities for further study?

The University of Sunderland is discussing developments in postgraduate studies for financial management. The Masters programmes available are: business administration, HRM marketing, international management, coaching for organisational excellence, human resource management and Master of business studies. To find out what other institutions offer, visit their individual websites and see what's available.

What career options are there when the course is completed?

Most graduates go into accounting and work towards completing their professional qualifications, either at chartered level or management accounting. They also work in the financial, insurance or banking sectors. Because of their financial expertise, some choose to work in general management. Others go on to teach, become lecturers or go into research and work towards PhDs. Most, however, work in the specialist sectors mentioned above. A lot of students who graduate join well-known banks and high-end accountancy firms.

So, there are plenty of career options after you've completed a financial management course; no need to think of it as sitting at a desk and staring at an abacus all day. Although you probably wouldn't think that anyway...

Steve Heywood, press and public relations officer at the University of Sunderland, www.sunderland.ac.uk

Current student: Amy Stephenson, 21, is in her third year studying accounting and business at the University of Sunderland

"I did applied maths, ICT and business studies at A-level. I have always had an interest in accounting and how a business is run, so this was the ideal course because it incorporated the two.

The course covers a broad range of accounting and business areas. We are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops, and assessed through assignments, exams, presentations and a final year dissertation. There is quite a lot of practical work, which has been very helpful; I am sure it will make a difference when I begin in the profession."

Recent graduate: Karen Wilson, 30, is a supplier relations manager in the HM Treasury's Office of Government Commerce

"I studied accounting and economics at the University of Sunderland. After my studies I worked for Leighton and was nominated for The Independent's Graduate of the Year Awards.

I'm responsible for ensuring that the Government's relations with large corporations run effectively.

My job is rewarding because you're continually looking for ways of improving the relationships between Government and its suppliers. The Government is currently attempting to make the public sector more cost-effective and I'm heavily involved in that process."

WEB WATCH

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

The place to find out about CIMA's professional qualifications www.cimaglobal.com

eFinancial Careers

Visit the Student Centre for an idea of graduate and intern jobs students.efinancialcareers.co.uk

HM Treasury

The Government's home of economics and finance www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

education.independent.co.uk/magazines

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