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Unit information: Financial Markets and Bank Regulation in 2020/21

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Unit name Financial Markets and Bank Regulation
Unit code LAWDM0157
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Miss. Powley
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

Recent events nationally and globally have placed financial markets and bank regulation under intense scrutiny. In the UK, government bailouts of ‘too big to fail’ elements of the financial sector have provided the impetus for significant structural reform of the UK’s regulatory architecture and its banking sector. The Global Financial Crisis – the origins of which can be traced back to the implosion of the US sub-prime mortgage market – threatened to de-stabilise the world into a global downtown. A decade later, the ramifications are still being felt: reforms intended to combat the problems identified during the financial crisis are still being introduced.

Set against this background, this unit covers a selection of topics relating to financial markets and the regulation of the banking sector. The major focus of the unit is on the public law aspects of regulation (such as the role and accountability of the major regulatory bodies: the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority), as well as their rule-making and enforcement powers, rather than the private law rules (such as tort, contract etc).

Topics covered include: the nature and function of financial services; the regulatory architecture and the accountability of the regulatory authorities; regulated activities and the system of regulation in the UK; issues arising in the context of investments; governance of financial institutions and conflicts of interests and the prudential regulation of banks (including capital and liquidity requirements and the question of bank failure).

Unit aims:

When presented with a set of facts you should be able to:

  • identify the key regulatory issues arising from those facts;
  • cite relevant case law and/or statutory authority;
  • explain how that authority applies to the issues raised by the facts, or how the facts may be distinguished;
  • draw reasoned conclusions.

When presented with a proposition relating to the particular aspect of the regulation of financial markets and banks you should be able to:

  • present arguments for and against the proposition, citing relevant authorities as well as the views of other writers, and be able to assess the weight and credibility of any
  • argument advanced;
  • examine relevant reform proposals;
  • draw reasoned conclusions as to whether you agree or disagree with the proposition advanced.

This unit will be of particular interest to those who wish to work in financial institutions, regulation, policy, journalism, law and academia. It will complement Banking Conduct and Law, International Corporate Finance and Corporate Governance.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss the purpose of regulation and supervision of the financial services sector.
  2. Describe and analyse the core regulatory requirements that financial services firms should comply with.
  3. Critically assess the development of the law and regulation as it applies to financial services firms.
  4. Engage with contemporary debates and issues in the area of financial regulation.
  5. Demonstrate an ability to conduct independent research and present a coherent, reasoned argument on a variety of topics relating to law and regulation of the financial services sector.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a variety of asynchronous and synchronous activities.

Assessment Information

Students will be assessed by 2 x 3,000 word coursework assignments. Each 1 x 3,000 word coursework will amount to 50% of the overall mark. Both assessments will assess all of the Intended Learning Outcomes for this unit in the context of topics selected by the examiners.

Formative assessment opportunities will be provided during the year.

Reading and References

There is no single book that covers all relevant issues. Students will be referred to a number of texts, including J Armour et al, Principles of Financial Regulation (OUP, 2016) and Iris H-Y Chiu and Joanna Wilson, Banking Law and Regulation (OUP, 2019). Students will be provided a detailed reading list for each learning block within the unit.

While not necessary in order to understand the material covered on this unit, students might find it interesting to read one of the following books, providing excellent accounts of the global financial crisis and the issues that arose for policymakers:

- H Davies, The Financial Crisis: Who is to blame? (Polity Press, 2010) - G Tett, Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe (Little Brown, 2010) - A R Sorkin, ‘Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street’ (Viking Press, 2009)