• Class Number 5490
  • Term Code 3160
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Tian Yao Zhang
    • Tian Yao Zhang
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 26/07/2021
  • Class End Date 29/10/2021
  • Census Date 14/09/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/08/2021
SELT Survey Results

Applied Portfolio Construction draws on previously studied investment principles, theories and techniques. The objective of this course is to enable students to synthesize the acquired financial theories and knowledge in the context of portfolio construction and asset allocation. It focuses on gaps in theory and how they can be managed in practice. Examples include challenges/realities in estimating and implementing portfolio optimisation programs, role of liquidity, and importance of plan governance. It covers topics such as types of investors and their objectives; dimensions of risk; asset allocation; the nature and role of various asset classes (equity, fixed income, alternative assets, FX); building multi-manager portfolios, and implementation issues.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Implement portfolio construction at the overall plan level, taking into account complex investor objectives and the practical challenges of implementation;
  2. Explain in detail the use and limitations of portfolio theory;
  3. Describe in detail the main characteristics of key asset classes, and the role they each play within a balanced portfolio; and
  4. Communicate complex portfolio structures and strategies to a diverse audience

Research-Led Teaching

Students undertaking this course will be taught fundamental skills in Finance that will be applied to many real life applications. The course materials draw on recent concepts, issues and practical information on portfolio construction and asset allocation from various sources, including academic papers, industry research publications and CFA materials. Students are required to read and understand these materials and apply their understanding to tutorial tasks designed to reflect a real life environment

Examination Material or equipment

The final examination will be a Wattle-based online exam during the university examination period at the end of semester. The final examination will be 3 hour long and cover the entire syllabus. It will be open book and all materials are permitted. The exam will be centrally timetabled and details of the final examination timetable will be made available on the ANU Timetabling website.

Required Resources

The Course Reading List will be provided on Wattle. The list is divided into ‘examinable’ and ‘supplementary’ readings. Examinable readings may be directly tested in the exams.

Supplementary materials are provided for additional information and/or assistance in preparation of the assignment or tutorials, and will not be directly tested in exams beyond the extent covered in the lectures, workshops or tutorials. Additional course readings may be made available during the semester. Students should check Wattle to ensure they are using an up-to-date reading list.


Readings will come from a range of sources, including journal and industry articles, websites and the textbook SPH (Stewart, S., Piros, C. and Heisler, J., Running Money: Professional Portfolio Management, McGraw Hill, 2019, available at ANU library: https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/anu/detail.action?docID=5741214 ). With the exception of the textbook, all readings will be provided on Wattle. Examinable readings from the textbook will be made available on Wattle.



Stewart, S., Piros, C. and Heisler, J., Portfolio Management: Theory and Practice, John Wiley & Sons, 2019 [denoted 'SPH'].

Electronic copies are available at ANU library: https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/anu/detail.action?docID=5741214

Staff Feedback

  • Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • 1) written feedback for the assignment; and
  • 2) verbal feedback in all teaching activities and consultations.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information


The tutorial exercises consist of two types of tasks: discussion questions and learning-by- doing Excel based questions. The purposes of the tutorial exercises are two-fold: firstly, give you the exposure of Excel-based quantitative modelling in portfolio analysis which prepares you for the assignment; secondly, help you understand the theories and practices discussed in the lectures using real-world data. Additionally, some calculations from the tutorial exercises are examinable in the exams.

To help you work with Excel, videos of conducting the required analysis using a dummy sample are provided. You are expected to attempt the tutorial exercises either before or after watching these videos, well before the relevant tutorials, as the time in tutorials are limited and will be dedicated to the discussion questions. You are strongly suggested to learn and practice following the lecture/ tutorial schedule.


Workshop is the dedicated forum to help you with your assignment. The lecturer may discuss some popular questions regarding the assignment and provide guidance tackling these problems. Students are encouraged to send assignment questions to the lecturer to make the workshop more relevant (but the lecturer would not answer complicated questions or those related to Excel that go beyond a straightforward answer by email).

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lecture: Course introduction Overview of portfolio management Workshop: No workshop this week
2 Lecture: Objectives, Dimensions of risk Workshop: Excel functions and formulas; Different forms of returns
3 Lecture:? Asset allocation: Theory and practice; Mean-variance model Workshop: Excel “solver”
4 Lecture: Asset allocation: Asset assumptions Workshop: Asset assumption continued Quiz
5 Lecture: Asset allocation: Additional methods Alpha and Beta Workshop: Mid-semester exam preparation
6 Lecture: Traditional assets: Equities Workshop?: Midterm recap and introduce the assignment Mid-semester exam, tentative, subject to the timetable released by University Examination Unit
7 Lecture: Traditional assets: Fixed income Workshop: Assignment
8 Lecture: Alternative assets: Overview; Property; Infrastructure Workshop: Assignment
9 Lecture: Alternative assets continued: Hedge funds; Private equity; Commodities Workshop: Assignment
10 Lecture: Global investing and currency hedging; The investment process Workshop: ?Assignment
11 Lecture: Other topics part 1: Multi-manager investment; Active versus passive; Investment costs; Ethics and governance Workshop?: Investment applications Assignment due
12 Lecture: Other topics part 2: Performance evaluation; Investor biases Workshop: Final exam review

Tutorial Registration

Tutorials will be available on campus, live through scheduled Zoom sessions and as pre-recorded videos. Information regarding enrolments for these options will be provided on Wattle no later than o week of the semester.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Quiz 0 % 20/08/2021 27/08/2021 1,2,3
Mid Semester Exam 20 % 30/08/2021 20/09/2021 1,2,3
Assignment 30 % 18/10/2021 03/11/2021 1-4
Final Examination 50 % 04/11/2021 02/12/2021 1,2,3

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Course content delivery will take the form of pre-recorded weekly lectures (available via echo360 on Wattle), pre-recorded weekly workshops (available via echo360 on Wattle) and weekly tutorials, delivered in hybrid format (on campus, live through scheduled Zoom sessions and as pre-recorded videos).


Centrally scheduled examinations through Examinations, Graduations & Prizes will be timetabled prior to the examination period. Please check ANU Timetabling for further information.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 0 %
Due Date: 20/08/2021
Return of Assessment: 27/08/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3


A short quiz (in the form of a few multiple-choice and/or short answer questions) will be offered online. More details will be provided during week 3. Quiz is designed to provide feedback and does not contribute to the final grade of the course. The quiz is to be completed individually over Wattle.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 30/08/2021
Return of Assessment: 20/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Mid Semester Exam

Mid-semester exam is optional and redeemable for this course. If redeemed, the weighting will be moved to the final exam. A mixture of theoretical and practical questions will be asked, covering all materials from week 1 to week 5. The exam is conducted through Wattle and is to be completed individually. The exam is 90 minutes. More details about the mid-semester exam will be provided in week 5. The dates of exam and return of results are indicative only, subject to the schedule of the University Examination unit.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 18/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 03/11/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1-4


The assignment involves writing a report that provides portfolio construction and investment advice. The assignment is to be done in groups of 4 - 6 students. All students MUST sign up for an assignment group at Wattle by week 4. A dedicated Students Forum is created to facilitate group forming at Wattle. Signing up for assignment groups is not restricted by tutorial enrollment. If you have to do the assignment as an individual task due to any reason, you need the lecturer’s approval to do so. Otherwise, all students who do not sign up for an assignment group will be randomly allocated to a group by the end of week 4. It is the students’ responsibility to contact other group members. The assignment questions will be released in week 6. The assignment is due in week 11.

When working on the assignment in a group, all students must adhere to the social distancing requirements stated by the government (for example, use Zoom or Skype for group meetings).

Assessment Rubrics

The assignment will be graded out of 100 marks on the basis of how well the students synthesize the understanding of both concepts and technical skills in the context of portfolio construction. Further details will be made available when the assignment is outlined.


Extension of the assignment is not considered by the lecturer as the assignment is done by a large group of students. Other group members are expected to complete the tasks even if one or more members were not able to due to any uncontrollable reasons.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 04/11/2021
Return of Assessment: 02/12/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Final Examination

The final exam is 3 hours in length. A mixture of theoretical and practical questions will be asked. Students will need to review all examinable materials pertaining to the course, including all examinable readings and contents covered in lectures/workshops/tutorials. The exam is conducted remotely and is to be completed individually. More details will be provided in week 10. The dates of exam and return of results are indicative only, subject to the schedule of the University Examination unit.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Assignments are submitted using the course Wattle site. Hard copy or email submission is only acceptable by the approval of the lecturer before the assignment is due on a case by cases basis. Only one submission is required from each group. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Important: to correctly record assignment marks in the Gradebook, each student must sign up for a Group on Wattle, including one-person groups.

Hardcopy Submission

All assessment submission in the course is online.

Late Submission

Late submission of the assignment is not accepted by the lecturer. Students will receive a mark of zero for the assignment if it is submitted after the due date. Every group member is responsible for ensuring the timely submission of the group's assignment.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

The grade and feedback of the assignment will be returned via Wattle, before the final exam.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

No re-submission of the assignment is accepted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Tian Yao Zhang

Research Interests

Asset Pricing

Tian Yao Zhang

Wednesday 14:00 15:00
Wednesday 14:00 15:00
Thursday 14:00 15:00
Thursday 14:00 15:00
Tian Yao Zhang

Research Interests

Tian Yao Zhang

Wednesday 14:00 15:00
Wednesday 14:00 15:00
Thursday 14:00 15:00
Thursday 14:00 15:00

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