FM471      Half Unit
Sustainable Finance and Impact Investing

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Christopher Polk


This course is available on the Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-Columbia), Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-University of Toronto), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Columbia), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MSc in Finance (full-time), MSc in Finance (full-time) (Work Placement Pathway), MSc in Finance (part-time), MSc in Finance and Economics, MSc in Finance and Economics (Work Placement Pathway), MSc in Finance and Private Equity, MSc in Finance and Private Equity (Work Placement Pathway), Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy. This course is not available as an outside option.


Students must take one of the following: FM423/FM423E Asset Markets, or FM436 Financial Economics, or FM429 Asset Markets A, or FM431M/FM431L Corporate Finance A, or FM473M/FM473L Financial Markets, or FM474M/FM474L Managerial Finance.

Students who can demonstrate comparable background may be granted an exemption from this requirement at the discretion of the course leader.

Course content

This course provides a conceptual foundation in sustainable finance and impact investing along with a clear understanding of the empirical facts associated with how sustainable finance and impact investing affect firm and fund performance in conjunction with the response of investors. Using a blend of readings, lectures, cases, and discussions, participants will learn to critically assess the actions of investors and firms with regards to sustainable finance and impact investing, including both motivation and resulting consequences.

Topics addressed will include corporate ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing, climate finance, and various impact investing topics, including micro finance. Participants will take away from the course a solid understanding of 1) the evolution of sustainable finance and impact investing from niche field to mainstream; 2) the variety of ways in which sustainable investing and impact investing manifests itself in practice, and 3) the tools, models and frameworks behind sustainable finance and impact investing.


30 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Case studies and homework assignments will help communicate and develop understanding of course concepts.

Indicative reading

  • Friedman, Milton, 1970, “A Friedman doctrine: The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits,” The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970.
  • Heinkel, Robert, Alan Kraus, and Josef Zechner, 2001, “The effect of green investment on corporate behavior,” Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis 36 431–449.
  • Hong, Harrison and Marcin Kacperczyk, 2009, “The price of sin: The effects of social norms on markets,” Journal of Financial Economics, 93 (1), 15–36.
  • Landier, Augustin and Vinay B. Nair, 2009, Investing for change: Profit from responsible investment, Oxford University Press.
  • Martin, Ian and Robert Pindyck, 2015, “Averting Catastrophes: The Strange Economics of Scylla and Charybdis,” American Economic Review.
  • Oehmke, Martin and Marcus Opp, 2020, “A Theory of Socially Responsible Investment,” Working Paper, LSE and Stockholm School of Economics.
  • Pastor, Lubos, Robert F. Stambaugh, and Lucian Taylor, 2021, “Sustainable Investing in Equilibrium,” Journal of Financial Economics forthcoming.
  • Pedersen, Lasse Heje, Shaun Fitzgibbons, and Lukasz Pomorski, 2021, “Responsible Investing: The ESG-Efficient Frontier,” Journal of Financial Economics forthcoming.


Continuous assessment (100%).

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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.

Key facts

Department: Finance

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills