Investment and portfolio management

This module covers the field of investment and describes the main participants, their objectives and constraints, and the major investment markets. The module includes investment strategies for bonds, equities, and structured products including the use of derivatives in managing risk. Portfolio optimisation and asset allocation are covered, as well as how to measure portfolio performance. Ethical investment, the role of taxation, and behavioural investment biases will also be explored. By the end of the module, you'll be able to evaluate individual securities, investment strategies and portfolio performance in the context of investor objectives, constraints and behavioural biases.


B818 is an optional 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

The aim of this module is twofold. First, to provide you with the theoretical knowledge and analytical skills to enable you to evaluate different investment possibilities, such as bonds, equities, and alternative investments, as well as the ability to construct optimal portfolios in a risk-return sense, including the use of derivatives.

Second, to give you an understanding of the key factors affecting investment-decision making, including investment objectives and constraints, behavioural and ethical issues, as well as an understanding of the different institutions involved in portfolio management.

The content of the module will be spread across six units:

Unit 1 – Introduction
This unit introduces you to the main investing institutions and intermediaries, to the markets in which they invest and to the way in which the investment industry works. It also includes a discussion on Fintech. It focuses on the key elements of determining investment objectives and constraints, and constructing portfolios of different types of securities that will offer the best expected return per unit of risk given the investor’s objectives and constraints.

Unit 2 – Fixed Income
Unit 2 starts by offering a broad view of fixed income by considering a history of fixed income from biblical times to the present day. Session 2 provides a macroeconomic context for examining fixed income and includes discussion of quantitative easing and tightening. You’ll then look at bond prices and yields, as well as the different approaches to fixed income trading.

Unit 3 – Equities
You’ll start by building on the earlier macroeconomic discussions from Unit 2, and explore the sensitivity of a firm to the business cycle, the typical life cycle of an industry and strategic issues that affect firm performance. You’ll consider how securities are marketed to the public and how they are traded among investors before turning to explore the role of trading arenas, such as the New York Stock Exchange and electronic markets. You'll also look at forms of analysis other than fundamental analysis, the efficient market hypothesis, and equity valuation.

Unit 4 – Derivatives and Structured Products
In this unit, you’ll look at derivatives based on cash products and foreign exchange derivatives. You’ll then learn how these derivatives are used in practice, such as to try to profit from a view on the market, to find arbitrage opportunities or to manage risk. The unit ends with a focus on structured products.

Unit 5 – Alternative Assets
The aim of this unit is to examine the alternatives to the conventional asset classes covered in previous units. This will include commodities, private equity/venture capital, and real estate/infrastructure; or investment strategies, such as hedge funds which use leverage or short selling.

Unit 6 – Asset Allocation and Performance Measurement
This unit will look at:

  • The different types of asset allocation approach, perhaps the most important aspect of a fund manager’s role.
  • Performance measurement, that is, how to measure the performance of an investment portfolio.
  • Performance attribution, which is the breaking down of portfolio performance into its constituent parts.
  • Some of the big issues facing the investment industry, such as transparency and fees, the rise of ETFs, and the changing client base.

You will learn

This module will enable you to understand:

  • how to value financial securities including bonds equities and derivatives
  • the trade-off between risk and return for securities and portfolios
  • the different approaches to asset allocation
  • structured products, that is, combinations of securities and derivatives which deliver a particular risk /return combination
  • the various risks inherent in investment and know how to use derivatives and other products to hedge (mitigate) such risks.

You'll also gain an awareness of the:

  • latest developments in Fintech
  • investment objectives and the constraints of different types of investors.

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 will contact your tutor by email, phone or via your tutor group forum on the module website.

There will be online tutorials throughout the module, as well as opportunities to collaborate with fellow students through forum discussions.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box.

Course work includes

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)

Future availability

Investment and portfolio management starts once a year – in May. This page describes the module that will start in May 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in May 2031.


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.

It is strongly recommended that you are comfortable with the use of numerical methods and use of spreadsheets. If you are unsure about these skills we suggest you familiarise yourself with illustrative numerical skills and methods prior to study.

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.


Start End England fee Register
03 May 2025 Oct 2025 £1865.00

Registration closes 17/04/25 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in May 2031.

Future availability

Investment and portfolio management starts once a year – in May. This page describes the module that will start in May 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in May 2031.

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 be sent a print copy of the module text, alongside access to an online version which has an extensive variety of written resources that have been designed exclusively for this module.

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

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • published articles and case studies
  • access to the Open University library.

Spreadsheets exemplifying the concepts presented in the module will be provided for student practice. Some cells within the spreadsheets will be fixed while others can be manipulated. They are a practice-based tool which a manager or practitioner would be expected to use.

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 online material may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader (and mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way). Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 

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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