Oxford Saïd Finance Lab

Students in class

Break into investment banking, private equity and asset management.


The Oxford Saïd Finance Lab is available to students studying the MBA, 1+1 MBA, MSc Financial Economics, or MSc Law and Finance.

The programme offers you the opportunity to understand key theoretical concepts, processes, instruments and models that are required to be successful in financial services. It connects theory with practice, preparing you for investment banking, private equity and asset management Analyst and Associate roles while giving you access to networking opportunities. You will gain the skills required to enter and succeed in the finance sector. 

If you have been accepted on a relevant Oxford Saïd programme, you are eligible to apply to the Finance Lab and will be sent details of the application process. The Finance Lab is not for all students and assumes a level of commitment, knowledge and basic skill. All accepted applicants must pass several online courses to enter the programme.

The application consists of a series of questions which will assess your suitability, these are reviewed alongside your CV.

The Finance Lab runs concurrently within your degree programme.

Course Syllabus

Students in tutorial setting

The programme will help you break into the investment banking, private equity and asset management industries through: 

  • Finance and Valuation Modelling Programme
  • Case studies presented by leading banks and firms followed by networking opportunities with senior executives
  • Participation in challenges including competitions against other business schools with the chance to win summer internships and cash prizes

Each session consists of two hours of discussion, plus a case study with a bank or fund. After the session, there may be a networking event or recruitment opportunity with the invited bank or fund. 


The Finance Lab is made up of a group of highly-trained and focused students keen to start a career in the financial industry.

Practitioner led

This tailored financial graduate training programme is led by seasoned practitioners with many years of transaction and market experience. It is respected and participated in by financial services recruiters and senior finance professionals from many global institutions.

Build and use core tools

At its core are a series of models used to evaluate and appraise situations from the real world. You will leave with a toolkit to tackle financial problems ranging from valuations to leveraged buyouts or M&A transactions and, more importantly, the knowledge of which, if any, tools to use and when.

Experiential learning

The Finance Lab is in addition to your programme of study and is not taught for credit. You are expected and required to actively participate in experiential workshops and seminars using real-life case studies working alongside a number of banking firms and funds. You will apply theory-based learning from the core programme and combine it with practical training relevant to both the interview processes and jobs. You need to be able to make a decision and be prepared to justify it in front of your peers and experienced professionals.

Bridging the gap


  • Lessons taught by expert practitioners
  • Networking cocktails
  • HR presentations from major companies

You will learn

  • About different firms and industries and what makes each one unique
  • To apply finance concepts to real-world scenarios
  • To develop a strategic mindset to complement technical skills
  • To network with senior professionals, HR and alumni

Cocktail networking events that follow each case study is yet another unique opportunity to build one's network and gain one-­on­‐one exposure to senior professionals.

Dennis Ou

2016 MFE student


Our annual challenges are an exciting and unique opportunity to prepare you for working in the finance sector.

They not only prepare you for working in the finance sector but also give you the chance to network with knowledgeable and influential professionals already well placed in the finance industry. They give you the chance to apply your skills to scenarios you are likely to see during the first three years working at a bank or a fund. Challenges focus on:

  1. Theory-based learning
  2. Real-life challenges
  3. Networking

You will acquire the knowledge and execution skills required for entry into investment banking positions in M&A, Leverage Finance, Project and Infrastructure Finance, Distress and Restructuring, Valuation, Equity Research, Capital Markets, Asset Management and Private Equity. Examples of challenges include:

Bridgepoint Private Equity Challenge

Bridgepoint is a leading private equity fund in Europe with €12 billion of assets. This challenge is an investment competition aimed to find the smartest assessment of leveraged buyout opportunities in the UK. The winners are invited to spend a day with Bridgepoint at their head office in London, as well as winning a cash prize. 

Rothschild Global Advisory Challenge

Rothschild & Co is a global and family-controlled group. This challenge is to develop a strategic review for a publicly-listed company. The winning team or individual will receive a summer internship at Rothschild Global Advisory. 

Wharton MBA Buyout Case Competition

This challenge is run by Wharton University of Pennsylvania and is the premier MBA-level LBO case competition in the world. It brings together teams from the leading business schools around the world to evaluate and make recommendations for a proposed PE buyout transaction. 

Hermes GPE Private Markets Challenge

Hermes GPE is a leading investor in global private equity with AUM of £3.4 billion. This challenge is to analyse a secondary opportunity with a view to purchasing the portfolio or to create an investment portfolio for a pension fund. The winning team is invited to a networking dinner with Hermes GPE in London. 

Become a corporate partner

Educate, network and recruit our students:

  • Educate through case studies and engage with students
  • Sponsor challenges, mentor, train and test students
  • Meet the students at networking cocktails, initiate and host additional customised events or London treks
  • Host HR company presentations to let our students know more about your company
  • Recruit University of Oxford students, offer summer and full-time internship opportunities or project opportunities

Finance Lab is a group of highly-trained and focused students keen to start a career in the financial industry.

Companies we work with include: 

3i, Advent International, Ardian, ARES Management, August Equity, Bain Capital, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Bayside, BDT Capital Partners, Blackstone, Bridgepoint, Carlyle, CDC, Centerview, Citi, Denham, Deutsche Bank, FTI Consulting, GIC, Glennmont, Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking, Hermes GPE, Houlihan Lockey, ICG, JP Morgan, KKR, Lazard, Moelis & Company, Morgan Stanley, Oak Tree Capital, Park Square, Parthenon EY, Patron Capital, PER, PJT Partners, Robey Warshaw, Rothschild, Terra Firma, UBS, Walker Hamill


Full profile

John Gilligan, Finance Lab Director

John Gilligan has worked in the private equity and venture capital industry for over 25 years. He started his career in 1988 at 3i Group plc as a financial analyst. He was a Corporate Finance Partner of Deloitte and latterly BDO for twenty years. He is the Director of the Oxford Saïd Finance Lab at Saïd Business School, a non-executive director and Investment Committee member of Big Issue Invest, one of the largest social impact investors in the UK. He is also a Visiting Professor at Imperial College Business school and has degrees from Southampton University, Nottingham University and London Business School.