MA415      Half Unit
The Mathematics of the Black and Scholes Theory

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Mihail Zervos


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Financial Mathematics. This course is available on the MSc in Statistics (Financial Statistics), MSc in Statistics (Financial Statistics) (LSE and Fudan) and MSc in Statistics (Financial Statistics) (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students must have completed September Introductory Course (Financial Mathematics and Quantitative Methods for Risk Management) (MA400).

Course content

This course is concerned with a mathematical development of the risk-neutral valuation theory. In the context of the binomial tree model for a risky asset, the course introduces the concepts of replication and martingale probability measures. The mathematics of the Black & Scholes methodology follow; in particular, the expression of European contingent claims as expectations with respect to the risk-neutral probability measure of the corresponding discounted payoffs, pricing formulae for European put and call options, and the Black & Scholes PDE are derived. A class of exotic options is then considered. In particular, pricing formulas for lookback and barrier options are derived using PDE techniques as well as the reflection property of the standard Brownian motion. The course also introduces a model for foreign exchange markets and various foreign exchange options.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 30 hours across Michaelmas Term. This year, apart from pre-recorded lecture videos, there will be a weekly live session of an hour. Depending on circumstances, seminars might be online.

Indicative reading

N H Bingham and R Kiesel, Risk-Neutral Valuation, Springer; T Björk, Arbitrage Theory in Continuous Time, Oxford; P J Hunt and J Kennedy, Financial Derivatives in Theory and Practice, Wiley; D Lamberton and J Kennedy, Introduction to Stochastic Calculus Applied to Finance, Chapman & Hall; D. Lamberton and B. Lapeyre, Introduction to Stochastic Calculus Applied to Finance, Chapman & Hall/Crc Financial Mathematics Series, 2nd edition, 2007; S E Shreve, Stochastic Calculus for Finance: Continuous-time Models: vol. 2, Springer


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

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: Mathematics

Total students 2020/21: 38

Average class size 2020/21: 19

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information