Alternative Investments: Beyond Stocks and Bonds

Gain a thorough understanding of the vast range of investment possibilities outside the mainstream equity and fixed income markets. During this course you are offered clear insight into the world of hedge funds, real estate, commodities and the massive currency trade market.

Name of minor: Alternative Investments: Beyond Stocks and Bonds
Code: MINRSM009
Teaching language: English
Offered by: Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), Department of Finance
Other programmes which are contributing to the minor: not applicable
Access: See admissions matrix


During the recent financial crisis alternative markets received a lot more attention as the conventional markets (stocks and bonds) did not show favorable risk/return characteristics. With this growing share of alternatives in institutional investment portfolios, investors should also develop their knowledge of alternative markets (i.e. the pros and cons of alternative investment categories such as hedge funds, commodities, real estate and currencies) to have a successful career in finance. The aim of this course is to provide students with more than just that basic knowledge of investment possibilities outside the traditional markets for stocks and bonds. This interactive course is set up to be academically rigorous while practical insights from investment professionals ensure the critical link with the investment world.

Learning objectives

Following this course, students have a basic working knowledge of the functions of financial markets beyond stocks and bonds, plus detailed knowledge of topics such as:

  • How to choose from and invest in alternative investment opportunities?
  • What is the risk/return trade-off offered by the wide range of alternative assets?
  • What determines the value of alternative investments?
  • How to create mixed portfolios of traditional and alternative investments?
  • Why should alternative investments be incorporated into asset allocation decisions?

Specific characteristics

not applicable


Maximum number of students that can participate in the minor:  
Minimum number of students that can participate in the minor:

ECTS: 15

Content: The course begins with an overview of basic knowledge related to investments in financial markets. In particular, we focus on risk and return ratios, the predictability of financial market returns and the behavior of investors. Second, we will study the practical relevance of this theory in the context of pooled investment vehicles (e.g. hedge funds) and other alternative asset classes (e.g. commodities and exchange rates).

Teaching method: The course consists of interactive lectures (incl. guest lectures) which students need to prepare by working on assignments, studying teaching materials, etc. Attendance to all lectures is mandatory.

Teaching materials: Various academic articles. Recommended literature: Burton Malkiel, A Random Walk Down Wall Street (Tenth Edition), Norton & Company, NY, 2011.

Contact hours: Seventeen 2-hour sessions.



Method of examination:

Written exam with open questions and assignments. 

Composition of final grade:

The final grade for the course is a weighted average of the written exam with open questions (70%) and assignments (30%). A passing mark of 5.5 is required for both the written exam and the final grade.


An exam feedback session will be scheduled.

Contact information

Contact person:

Naam/name: Dr. Ben Tims
Phone: +3110 408 2300
Room: T8-49

Faculty website:

RSM Minorsite

Personal page Ben Tims

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