HEC Lausanne UNIL

We did the second semester of the master’s degree at HEC Lausanne.
HEC Lausanne was a great opportunity to get a challenge academically, but it was a lot of work. The
teaching style was quite practical, which helped to get a more applied understanding of the concepts
covered in the lectures. There is also the grading system which is different from BI, it has a passing
grade that is rather high.
For the free time there are a lot of options, but we did not have that much time to explore them. But
there are some nice student pubs that are open at the end of the day. The area around Lausanne
consists of many attractions such as the Lavaux wine yards and the alps for winter activities.
Practical information
The staff at HEC Lausanne sent us all the information we needed regarding housing, applying for the
school and so on, months before we needed them. The signing up for specific courses was not given
any information about, but this was done after the semester started.
We took a plane from Oslo to Geneva, and then the train from Geneva to Lausanne, this seems to be
the easiest way to reach the destination from Norway.
Housing was provided by FMEL, they have a rather high demand for housing so this had to be applied
for before the semester started. The application opened at midnight and it is a good idea to try to be
as early as possible. We stayed at their location in Marcolet, this student housing project is not very
close to the school and it takes about 30 minutes by walking(15 minutes) and metro(15 minutes).
Marcolet is close to the world’s most awesome COOP store.
The cost of living at Marcolet is 550CHF a month, the metro cost around 50CHF monthly, most of the
classes do not require that you buy the book but you might have to buy some Harvard cases and
other school supplies. If you intend to travel around Switzerland the trains are rather expensive,
there is an alternative to buy a card which gives a 50% discount on tickets but this is only worthwhile
if you intend to travel a bit.
In the Lausanne area the local language is French, and this is also the native language of most of the
students, the students do however speak English really well as all the classes are held in English, (this
is not the case in the bachelor program). The locals do not (or are not willing to) speak much English
so it might be a good idea to make some friends that speak both languages.
UNIL is a university with a large and diversified student body, this means that the cultural activities
around the campus and in town are the same, there are music festivals, debates, art exhibitions and
more organized by either the faculties or the student organizations.
About the school
The school is next to Lake Geneva with a campus that consists of several buildings. It is a university
that has many different faculties, the school has around 13.500 students.
Course registration happened after the classes started, first there was a 2 week period to sample the
different classes, then there was week where registrations where open to enroll in the classes. It is
possible to change even after these three weeks, but that requires a fee of around 200CHF. Some
classes that there are in high demand requires that you submit a resume and a motivation letter to
the professor to be able to be selected for the class. This happens before the semester starts or right
at the beginning of the semester, so if you are interested in any of these it might be wise to prepare
this, (in our time at UNIL these classes was management and marketing).
The semester started at February 15. But there was an info meting for exchange students on
February 12. which we were encouraged to attend, in this meeting we got our student id cards, and
learned some useful information, but most where spoken in French so it was rather pointless. After
this the classes started and there was no real introduction week, just a normal week of classes.
We felt that we received enough information, but there was not really that much that needed to be
said. In the specific classes information was given relevant to this class and this was really all we
The relationship with the other students was good, but some were a bit skeptical of the abilities of
students from other schools. This was only felt in the beginning. There are student organizations for
exchange students, most prominent is the Erasmus network. They organize weekly pub nights and
other events such as tours in the area.
The style of teaching is quite practical with many cases studies. Because of demand by outside
sources they also emphasize oral presentations and most of the classes we attended required that at
least one project should be presented for the rest of the class. The level of workload in the classes we
took was heavier than at BI and was quite challenging time management wise, the level seems higher
than BI and some subjects covered are rather advanced.
The courses are mostly based on the lectures and articles which are made available thru the moodle2
learning platform, some classes have a required text book as curriculum but this is more seldom. As
mentioned before the learning is done in great part by case studies, these are mandatory and very
helpful in understanding the subject matter.
In our classes the final exams counted for around 50% of the total grade, the rest of the grade was
based projects, presentations, mid-term exams and class participation.
The library in l’Internef(the HEC building) contains quite a bit of economical literature, it is however
not very big and tends to be quite crowded, especially in the exam period. The school has wireless
internet available for the students all over the campus.
Empirical methods in Finance: 9ects. Mandatory for the HEC students that take master in finance,
high workload (8 homework assignments, mid-term and final exam), advanced subjects (Extreme
value theory, copula’s). Very hard class, but very educational.
Quantitative asset and risk management: 6ects. Taught by same professor as EMF, made to
compliment that class, it would be rather difficult to take this class without the EMF class if you do
not have a pretty strong background in statistics. Will be offered as two separate classes in the future
to make it easier to integrate into the local students curriculum. Evaluated by two large projects
(with presentations), and a final exam.
Investments: 6 ECTS. Deals with the whole process of investing in stocks. Taught by a very sarcastic
professor, so prepare to get your ideas challenged. Grading based on participation, cases, an analyst
report and a portfolio project. You have to be well prepared for every class, but overall it is not too
hard to pass this course.
Alternative Investments: 6 ECTS. Class about hedge funds, evaluated by one large case and a final
exam. The course focuses on different hedge fund strategies and the fee structure. One large project
and a final exam.
Corporate Finance: 6ects. Class divided in two parts, first part is mostly repletion of subjects covered
in the bachelor corporate finance course, with some more detail, the second part includes quite a bit
of game theory in the corporate finance setting. 4 cases, 1 presentation and 1 final exam.
Private Equity: 3ects. Interesting class in private equity, not to tough work load (4 small cases,
presentation and final exam).