IC313: Finance and Occupational Pensions

IC313: Finance and Occupational Pensions

Module code: IC313

Module provider: ICMA Centre; Henley Business School

Credits: 20

Level: Level 3 (Honours)

When you'll be taught: Semester 2

Module convenor: Professor Charles Sutcliffe, email:

Pre-requisite module(s):

Co-requisite module(s):

Pre-requisite or Co-requisite module(s):

Module(s) excluded:

Placement information: na

Academic year: 2024/5

Available to visiting students: Yes

Talis reading list: No

Last updated: 28 May 2024


Module aims and purpose

The aim of this module is to give students an understanding of the financial aspects of occupational pensions – investing the money, and the effects of a pension scheme on the corporate sponsor. 

This is an applied course with little mathematical content. It deals with the largest group of institutional investors - pension schemes, focussing on occupational pension schemes. They employ fund managers to invest many £trillions on their behalf. Pensions are in a state of crisis and change, and have become the subject of popular debate and controversy. Developing countries, such as China and India, have the potential for an enormous expansion of their pension schemes. Therefore, the assets under management of pension schemes globally are likely to increase considerably. The investment of pension funds requires an understanding of how pension schemes work, and corporate finance needs to allow for the presence of large pension schemes.

This module provides a detailed knowledge of the biggest group of global institutional investors (pension schemes), and the real-world problems they face. Pensions are a subject that is very important to each student in the following ways:-

(a) personally, as a third of adult life will be spent as a pensioner (about 25 years). Therefore, your most important source of income in retirement depends on your occupational pension scheme.

(b) academically, and quite possibly 

(c) occupationally (e.g., as an investment manager who invests pension money, as a security analyst who needs to assess the value of companies with large pension schemes, or as a company manager responsible for their company’s pension scheme).

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, it is expected that students will be able to:

  • explain the basics of how the main types of occupational pension scheme operate, discuss the main challenges facing pension schemes, and some approaches to meeting these challenges.
  • explain the investment decisions pension schemes must make when managing the pension fund, discuss the financial implications of the relationship between a pension scheme and its corporate sponsor.
  • explain how annuities work, and their role in providing pensions.

Module content

1.     Introduction to Pension Schemes

2.     Selected Pension Scheme Topics

3.     Investment and Pension Schemes

4.     Corporate Finance and Pension Schemes

5.      Annuities


Teaching and learning methods

Lectures are used to introduce the concepts covered in this module.

The seven seminars allow students to discuss real world problems, including Harvard Business School case studies of General Motors, Unilever, Boots and Bethlehem Steel.

These problems and case studies illustrate the concepts covered in this module.

Study hours

At least 27 hours of scheduled teaching and learning activities will be delivered in person, with the remaining hours for scheduled and self-scheduled teaching and learning activities delivered either in person or online. You will receive further details about how these hours will be delivered before the start of the module.

 Scheduled teaching and learning activities  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 7
Project Supervision
Practical classes and workshops
Supervised time in studio / workshop
Scheduled revision sessions
Feedback meetings with staff
External visits
Work-based learning

 Self-scheduled teaching and learning activities  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Directed viewing of video materials/screencasts
Participation in discussion boards/other discussions
Feedback meetings with staff
Other (details)

 Placement and study abroad  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Study abroad

Please note that the hours listed above are for guidance purposes only.

 Independent study hours  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Independent study hours 173

Please note the independent study hours above are notional numbers of hours; each student will approach studying in different ways. We would advise you to reflect on your learning and the number of hours you are allocating to these tasks.

Semester 1 The hours in this column may include hours during the Christmas holiday period.

Semester 2 The hours in this column may include hours during the Easter holiday period.

Summer The hours in this column will take place during the summer holidays and may be at the start and/or end of the module.


Requirements for a pass


Summative assessment

Type of assessment Detail of assessment % contribution towards module mark Size of assessment Submission date Additional information
In-class test administered by School/Dept Online MCQ test 20 50 minutes Week 12 Semester 2 Multiple Choice test
In-person written examination In-person written examination 80 2 hours Assessment Weeks Semester 2 Centrally timetabled in-person exam

Penalties for late submission of summative assessment

The Support Centres will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

Assessments with numerical marks

  • 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 three working days;
  • the mark awarded due to the imposition of the penalty shall not fall below the threshold pass mark, namely 40% in the case of modules at Levels 4-6 (i.e. undergraduate modules for Parts 1-3) and 50% in the case of Level 7 modules offered as part of an Integrated Masters or taught postgraduate degree programme;
  • where the piece of work is awarded a mark below the threshold pass mark prior to any penalty being imposed, and is submitted up to three working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline), no penalty shall be imposed;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than three working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

Assessments marked Pass/Fail

  • where the piece of work is submitted within three working days of the deadline (or any formally agreed extension of the deadline): no penalty will be applied;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than three working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension of the deadline): a grade of Fail will be awarded.

The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:

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.

Formative assessment

Formative assessment is any task or activity which creates feedback (or feedforward) for you about your learning, but which does not contribute towards your overall module mark.

The seven classes involve Harvard Business School case studies, allowing discussion of the pension issues facing real world companies.

The marks for the multiple choice test provide feedback on performance that is available before the examination.


Type of reassessment Detail of reassessment % contribution towards module mark Size of reassessment Submission date Additional information
In-person written examination In-person written examination 100 2 hours During the University resit period

Additional costs

Item Additional information Cost
Computers and devices with a particular specification
Printing and binding
Required textbooks
Specialist clothing, footwear, or headgear
Specialist equipment or materials
Travel, accommodation, and subsistence


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