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Financial Market Microstructure

Unit code: BMAN31792
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 3
Teaching period(s): Semester 2
Offered by Alliance Manchester Business School
Available as a free choice unit?: N



Additional Requirements

BMAN31792 has pre-requisites of BMAN23000 A or B Foundations of Finance , BMAN21011 Financial Markets and Institutions and BMAN20072 Investment Analysis. It is available to Mgt, IM, IMABS, IBFE, BA Econ and BSc Economics.

Pre-requisite course units have to be passed by 40% or above at the first attempt unless a higher percentage is indicated below.

Pre-requisites: BMAN23000 (A) or (B) Foundations of Finance, BMAN21011 Financial Markets and Institutions and BMAN20072 Investment Analysis.

It is preferred that students have a pass mark of 60% or higher in all the pre-requisite course units listed above for Financial Market Microstructure.


The aims of this course are:
1. To provide an understanding of both core theoretical ideas and recent empirical insights developed in the field of financial market microstructure.
2. To be able to formulate recommendations for the optimal design of financial markets.
3. To discuss current regulatory and technological changes of trading venues, such as Algorithmic and High Frequency Trading.
4. To introduce new techniques offered by financial market microstructure for analysing transaction costs, asymmetric information, market liquidity and the strategic behaviour of agents participating in financial trading.


The analysis of the inherent microstructure of financial markets is a relatively young sub-discipline within finance, but has rapidly become one of the most important. The growth of both electronic and algorithmic trading and their impact upon the efficient operation of financial markets has required scholars and practitioners alike to obtain a much more sophisticated understanding of the importance of the underlying trading architecture and the dynamics of price formation in a variety of trading environments.

Financial market microstructure is concerned with studying the process of financial price formation under explicit trading rules. While financial economics has traditionally neglected the mechanics of trading, the market microstructure literature relaxes the assumptions of traditional asset pricing models, such as the absence of transaction costs, homogenous and symmetric information, and studies how different trading mechanisms affect the intraday price formation process in financial markets. This is of practical relevance for investors, who are interested in efficient order execution and the effect of market liquidity on asset prices.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and Seminars

Total study hours: 100 hours split between lectures, classes, self study and preparation for classes, coursework and examinations.

Informal Contact Methods
• Office hours
• Online learning activities (blogs, discussions, self- assessment questions)
• Lecturers available for questions after lectures and seminars
• Discussion forum on Blackboard to post questions

Employability skills

  • OtherThis course is important for students who are interested in working in either the trading or global markets division(s) of large investment banks. This course will help them to obtain an overview of the variety of architectures and trading processes in different market settings and the roles of the different agents in the value chain of financial trading.

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 80%
  • Oral assessment/presentation - 20%


Financial Market Structures and Market Microstructure Foundations:

  • The value chain in securities trading and basics of trading
  • Market design and market structures of selected markets
  • Asset Classes and Order Types
  • Different Types of traders
  • Transaction Cost Analysis
  • Asymmetric information and strategic trading behaviour
  • Market fragmentation and regulation
  • Exchanges and Alternative Trading Systems
  • Technological advances in trading (Automation, Algorithmic Trading, High Frequency Trading)
  • Applied Econometrics
  • Clearing and settlement

Recommended reading

  • De Jong, Frank and Barbara Rindi: The Microstructure of Financial Markets, Oxford Univ. Press, 2009
  • Harris, Larry: Trading and Exchanges : Market Microstructure for Practitioners, Oxford Univ. Press, 2003
  • Hasbrouck, Joel: Empirical Market Microstructure, Oxford University Press, 2007
  • Johnson, Barry: Algorithmic Trading and DMA: An introduction to direct access trading strategies, 4Myeloma Press, 2010
  • O’Hara, Maureen: Market Microstructure Theory, Blackwell Publishing, 1995
  • Other papers that will be announced before the lectures

Feedback methods

• Informal advice and discussion during lectures and seminars.
• Responses to student emails and questions from a member of staff including feedback provided to a group via an online discussion forum.
• Written and/or verbal comments on in-class presentation.
• Generic feedback posted on Blackboard regarding overall examination performance.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam - 2 hours
  • Lectures - 20 hours
  • Seminars - 9 hours
  • Independent study hours - 69 hours

Teaching staff

Sarah Zhang - Unit coordinator

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