PH431 Half Unit
Physics and the City: From Quantum Jumps to Stock Market Crashes
This information is for the 2020/21 session.
Dr Bryan Roberts LAK 1.01
This course is available on the MSc in Economics and Philosophy, MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy, MSc in Philosophy of Science and MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
There are no prerequisites for this course; it is accessible to students of all backgrounds.
One of the most surprising discoveries of the 20th century is that many things can be described by tiny atoms moving randomly about. Thinking about the physical world in this way led to the invention of modern particle physics. Thinking about the financial world in this way led to modern financial modeling. This course is about some of the philosophical issues underlying the relationship between physics and finance.
Students in this course will explore some of the most important conceptual and philosophical questions underlying physics and finance, like: How are assumptions about randomness compatible with observed forms of determinism? What does it mean to be an atom? How does the quantum world differ from the everyday world? What explains why physical models have unexpected applications in finance? To what extent do such applications help to underpin how the prices of financial instruments are set?
The course will proceed at a conceptual level that is suitable for students of all backgrounds.
10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.
This year, some or all of this teaching will take place online.
Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.
In addition to the formative essay due mid-term, students must complete 2-4 short weekly reading questions to prepare for discussion in class.
Weekly essential readings will be provided on Moodle, selected individually from various book chapters and journal articles. Some indicative readings include:
- Malkin, Burton G. A random walk down Wallstreet, excerpts.
- Norton, John D. Einstein for Everyone, Chapters 34-37 on Brownian motion and the origins of quantum theory.
- Weatherall, James O. The Physics of Wallstreet.
- Derman, E. My Life as a Quant. Excerpts.
Essay (50%, 1500 words) in the LT.
Essay (50%, 1500 words) in the ST.
Student performance results
(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)
|Classification||% of students|
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.
Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Total students 2019/20: 16
Average class size 2019/20: 16
Controlled access 2019/20: No
Value: Half Unit
Personal development skills
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Application of numeracy skills
- Specialist skills