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INTRODUCTION TO FINANCE COURSE OBJECTIVES This is the introductory course in Finance prepared specifically for the online offering via Coursera. Its purpose is to equip you with a framework and basic tools and techniques necessary to make sound decisions. The main focus of the course is on valuation of both real and financial assets. The course is designed with the following specificobjectives:  To teach the fundamental methods and skills of finance vital for understanding valuation of any asset, personal or corporate  To prepare you to make sound personal and professional decisions  To prepare you to take more advanced courses in finance  To provide you with a base level of sophistication to enable you to better understand the role of finance in debatesover corporate and public policy. COURSE DESCRIPTION This course is primarily devoted to the principles of financial valuation. We will first discuss the concept of time value of money in extensive detail with the use of several real world examples, and then apply the principles of valuation to value (a) real projects or ideas and (b) financial securities (stocks and bonds). Sincedecision‐making virtually always involves risk and uncertainty, we will then introduce the concept of risk, and the relation between risk and return. This is followed by a discussion of the relation between financing and the weighted average cost of capital in a world without frictions. We will then integrate our knowledge of cash flows with our understanding of risk and financing to revisit valuationand decision‐making. Although the concepts of competitive capital markets and market efficiency will not be covered in a separate session, they will be woven in the fabric of the course. COURSE PEDAGOGY: THE IMPORTANCE OF PROBLEM SOLVING This is a demanding course that will require a lot of hard work, from both you and me. I have deliberately pitched it at a relatively high level with anemphasis on deep understanding of what finance is all about, yet with a focus on practical applications. To achieve these dual objectives, this course is focused on problem solving and,


consequently, I will make a conscious attempt to introduce each topic with real‐life examples. I stronglyencourage you to attempt every problem in the video before we do it together. You will also be required to submit weekly assignments that involve multiple problem‐solving exercises. Some of these problems are more complex by design than the examples we will do in “class” (the videos) because class time needs to be devoted to understanding the issues and concepts. In my view, doing problems soonafter the relevant material is covered in class is the best way to learn. We have carefully coordinated both the content and the pace of the course. Since it is important to acquire the basic concepts and skills of a subject matter before applying them to relatively complex situations, in the first half of the course we will concentrate more on the tools of finance. We will move at afairly brisk pace and introduce you to several tools, which you will learn to apply within carefully constructed (but realistic) situations presented to you in “number‐crunching” oriented assignments. Class Structure After a lot of thought, and listening carefully to the feedback of experts in online/virtual teaching, I have decided to conduct this class in “real time.” In other words, wewill mimic the process of a face‐to‐face class in that the course will run for a fixed period and all of you will be exposed to the videos and assignments at the same time. Based on our experience in offering the course the first time around, we have chosen the length of the class to be 15 weeks, with materials offered in two‐week chunks, each followed by one week for assimilation and...
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