ICM2003-Sustainable Investments

Module Provider: ICMA Centre
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2023/4

Module Convenor: Dr Lisa Schopohl
Email: l.schopohl@icmacentre.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module explores how financial investors incorporate sustainability considerations and environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into their investment decisions. The module offers an introduction to the main sustainable investment strategies, the main players (governments, supranational institutions, corporations, investment funds, banks) in the sustainable investment space and the application of sustainable investment in different asset classes. A particular focus in this module is on green and climate change-related investments, but the module also explores the social and ethical dimensions of sustainable investment.


The aim of the module is to familiarise students with the main strategies employed in sustainable investments and the role that sustainable investment can play in addressing societal challenges such as climate change. Using real-world examples and ESG data, students will learn about the key challenges and opportunities that investors incorporating ESG criteria face. Students will also be introduced to the crucial role of financial regulation and voluntary standards/principles in the sustainable investment space.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, students will be able to: 

  • outline the main sustainable investment strategies 

  • discuss the role of key players in the sustainable investment space

  • critically evaluate the role of ESG ratings and the quality of ESG data in promoting ESG investment

  • explain how ESG is incorporated into different asset classes 

  • critically discuss the main challenges and opportunities in sustainable and green investment, including greenwashing

  • reflect on the role of regulation and voluntary standards in promoting and hindering sustainable and green investment

Additional outcomes:

By exploring the incorporation of ESG criteria into investment processes using case studies and real-world examples, students will develop an understanding of best practices and real-world challenges that investors face.

Outline content:

1. Introduction to sustainable investment and its main players

2. Sustainable / ESG investment strategies

3. The role of ESG ratings and ESG data

4. Green bonds and ESG in the fixed income market

5. Sustainable investment in the private and public equity markets

6. Sustainable real estate investments and infrastructure investments

7. Green portfolio management 

8. Climate investments and Fintech

9. Sustainable investment regulation and disclosure

10. Greenwashing and other critical issues in sustainable investment?

Global context:

The examples and applications featured throughout this module are drawn from around the world, highlighting the diversity and range of ESG strategies applied by different investors. The discussion of regulation and disclosure in sustainable investment further covers different national developments as well as endeavours to develop global standards and principles.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The topics are introduced in lectures which are then followed by seminars which allow for a deeper discussion of the concepts. Case studies and real-world examples are used throughout the module to highlight the real-world investment context in which sustainable investment strategies are applied.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 40
    Wider reading (directed) 20
    Advance preparation for classes 10
    Preparation for presentations 20
    Preparation for seminars 10
    Completion of formative assessment tasks 10
    Essay preparation 40
    Reflection 20
Total hours by term 0 200 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 70
Oral assessment and presentation 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One individual presentation in week 7 or 8 of the term (worth 30% of the module mark).

One individual project (word limit 3,000 words) to be submitted in week 1 of the summer term (worth 70% of the module mark).

Formative assessment methods:

Students get the opportunity to discuss and debate cases and examples in the seminars and lectures. Short, weekly quizzes provide students with an overview of the main topics and concepts covered each week.

Penalties for late submission:

The below information applies to students on taught programmes except those on Postgraduate Flexible programmes. Penalties for late submission, and the associated procedures, which apply to Postgraduate Flexible programmes are specified in the policy “Penalties for late submission for Postgraduate Flexible programmes”, which can be found here: https://www.reading.ac.uk/cqsd/-/media/project/functions/cqsd/documents/cqsd-old-site-documents/penaltiesforlatesubmissionpgflexible.pdf
The Support Centres will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: https://www.reading.ac.uk/cqsd/-/media/project/functions/cqsd/documents/cqsd-old-site-documents/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

50% weighted average mark

Reassessment arrangements:

By individual project.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Required textbooks: Thompson, S. (2022) “Green and Sustainable Finance – Principles and Practice”, Kogan Page Ltd: London (UK), New York (US).

Cost: £45

Last updated: 5 April 2023


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