Research methods for finance

This module provides you with the necessary background to understand and plan empirical research in finance. It discusses some basic methodological approaches to research and develops relevant data analytics skills, including linear regression analysis, in Microsoft Excel. Finally, this module introduces you to the free and powerful statistical and econometric software R, which has become very popular amongst finance professionals. Whilst this is more technical than our other finance modules, it is exciting because it brings you closer to academic research in finance.  

Vocational relevance

This module is essential if you are working or planning to work, in the finance sector, especially in financial institutions. It will also be beneficial if you work, or intend to work, outside of the finance domain, such as conducting academic research in finance. This module will also be of interest if you wish to expand your knowledge and skills in order to increase future opportunities by acquiring key transferable skills.


B817 is a compulsory module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

This module is made up of the following six units: 

Unit 1 provides a general introduction to social research. It deals with issues of research methodology, the differences between qualitative and quantitative research and the distinction between primary and secondary data sources. It also discusses possible ethical issues and challenges that a researcher may encounter in social research in general and financial research in particular.

Units 2, 3 and 4 develop relevant data analytics skills in Microsoft Excel by focusing on descriptive statistics and basic probability theory. This part of the module not only discusses the most common probability distributions and their applications in finance research but also shows you how to carry out hypothesis tests for single variables and draw conclusions for a variety of statistical problems.

Unit 5 introduces you to linear regression analysis in Microsoft Excel. Regression analysis is a powerful and arguably the most widely used statistical method in empirical finance research. One particular type of regression analysis, linear regression, aims to explain one variable as a linear combination of one or several other variables.

Finally, Unit 6 introduces you to the powerful statistical and econometric software R. More specifically, we show how R can be used to assemble and manage large datasets, produce descriptive statistics and graphs, perform regression analysis, and interpret regression results. While Unit 6 has a distinct practical and applied feel, it uses the combined knowledge of the preceding Units 1 to 5.

Given the technical nature of this module, you may find parts of it challenging. The study activities will help you to understand the concepts and apply them to real-life problems, so it is important to allow time to complete them.

You will learn

By completing this module, you will be able to:

  • examine the range of methods available for the collection of evidence (data) in finance
  • use relevant descriptive statistics to describe data
  • identify and explore relationships within the data
  • demonstrate proficiency in conducting data visualisation, statistical tests and basic regression analysis in Microsoft Excel
  • practice conducting data visualisation, statistical tests and regression analysis in the R software
  • conduct literature reviews of academic papers in finance confidently and effectively
  • identify relevant theories in finance literature, use prior literature to propose and test research hypotheses
  • design a quantitative research methodology to explore a finance research problem.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Your tutor will help you with the study material, mark and comment on your assignments and provide advice and guidance. You'll be able to contact your tutor by email, telephone or via your tutor group forum on the module website.

Contact us if you want to know more about studying with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box.

Course work includes

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

Research methods in finance starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2030.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Entry requirements

All entrants must hold a BA/BSc degree awarded by a recognised university or equivalent.

Various higher education and professional qualifications are considered equivalent to a degree. If you hold a qualification that you believe is an equivalent level to a UK degree you should contact us. The Open University Business School Masters Programme Committee is responsible for judging whether applicants' qualifications meet the requirements for admission.

You will also need an appropriate facility in English language, sufficient to be able to work effectively at postgraduate level; generally, this means capability equivalent to an International English Language Test System (IELTS) score of 6.5. To assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies, you can visit the IELTS website. If you think either of these possibilities may apply to you, please speak to an adviser.

It is strongly recommended that you are comfortable with the use of numerical methods and use of spreadsheets.  If you're unsure about these skills, we suggest you familiarise yourself with illustrative numerical skills and methods prior to study. To help you decide whether you are ready, you may want to try this diagnostic quiz.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


Start End England fee Register
02 Nov 2024 Apr 2025 £1865.00

Registration closes 10/10/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in November 2030.

Future availability

Research methods in finance starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2030.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

Ways to pay for this module

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

You'll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • published articles.

You'll also be provided with a printed textbook as well as access to The Open University library.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

This module is delivered online, and time spent using a computer and the internet will therefore be extensive. Written transcripts of any audio components are available, as are printable versions of the online text-based material. Some interactive online material may not be available or fully accessible in the printed text-based version.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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