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Special Topics Courses 2019/20


  • Content in any given year will depend on the instructor.
  • Enrolment is restricted to Rotman Commerce students.
  • To take a 400-series course, 14.0+ credits are required; for a 300-series, 9.0+ credits are required; and for a 200-series, 4.0+ credits are required.

Fall Term Sections
RSM311H1F – Analytical Insights using Financial Data
RSM414H1F – Creativity for Business Innovation

Winter Term Sections
RSM310H1S – Managing Customer Value
RSM312H1S – Data and Information Management for Business Analytics
RSM314H1S – Sports Analytics
RSM316H1S – Machine Learning
RSM319H1S – Creative Destruction Lab (Intro Course)
RSM412H1S – Service Operations Analytics
RSM417H1S – Sustainable Finance
RSM419H1S – Designing for Equality

RSM310H1S – Managing Customer Value

Instructor: David Soberman
Prerequisite: RSM250H1

Watch a video presentation about the course.

This course introduces you to the theory behind marketing and is designed to provide you with the opportunity to put these ideas and elements into practice in a simulated competitive environment.

The precise objectives of the simulation are:

  • To reinforce the value of a marketing orientation (the importance of being customer-driven).
  • To revisit the importance and implications of segmentation
  • To experience the challenge of working in a competitive environment with a limited number of major competitors.
  • To demonstrate the importance of understanding the core competencies of your firm and those of your competitors as a precursor to strategy development
  • To appreciate the key differences between managing mature categories and growing (new) categories.
  • To use market research and to observe how its use leads to vast improvements in decision making.

Once you develop a strategy for your Markstrat company, you implement tactical decisions that follow from your strategy and these include:

  • Product Decisions, such as which new product(s) to introduce in the market, how to re-engineer an existing product, whether to add new product extensions in the existing product line, which brand name to use, etc.
  • Pricing Decisions of the company’s product/service, such as pricing of existing or new products.
  • Place/Channel decisions such as in which kinds of outlets you should sell your products, how any intermediaries you want in the distribution channel, how will you manage channel conflict, etc.
  • Promotional/Communication decisions, such as how should you promote your product (through advertising, deploying your company’s sales force, using coupons, using point of sales promotions, etc.), which media vehicles should you use for advertising, how much money should you allocate across different media vehicles, which theme(s) should you emphasize in the advertising message, etc.
  • The simulation takes place over a six-year period, and the competition provides you with an experience that is stimulating, intense and highly representative of what marketers do in the real world.  Each company makes six decisions, and each decision simulates the creation and execution of an annual marketing plan. The interaction between the firms is what determines market (firm) outcomes.

RSM311H1F – Analytical Insights using Financial Data

Instructor: Scott Liao
Prerequisite: RSM219H1; ECO220Y1 and its equivalents

In this data era, students must have basic data analytics skill to be competent in the workplace. In practice, you will need to rely on data analytics to make business and investment decisions. To help you acquire this basic ability, in this class, we will learn how to use EXCEL and PowerBI to analyze financial and accounting data.  We will also apply the basic data analytics ability on several business cases including those developed by Ernst and Young.

RSM312H1S – Data and Information Management for Business Analytics

Instructor: Allan Esser
Prerequisite: None (ECO220Y1 is no longer a pre-requisite)

Please find the description for this course here.

RSM314H1S – Sports Analytics

Instructor: Matthew Mitchell
Prerequisite: ECO220Y1 (Updated August 8, 2018)

This course will apply concepts of analytic management and data analysis to the sports world. Sports offers a unique opportunity to measure employee (especially player) performance and firm decisions in response to that data. Students will learn how econometric analysis can help in this process. The class will address both popular discussions of sports analytics as well as academic papers at the research frontier since those papers are an opportunity to learn about the latest thinking. The class will be an opportunity to use evidence from sports as a way to assess other theories that are a part of business education.

We will study the use of analytics in a variety of sports settings.  Students will have the opportunity to do their own data analysis using sports data from a variety of sports. Although not expressly focused on hockey, we will sometimes use data from the hockey analytics firms Stathletes brought to us by co-founder Meghan Chayka. The course will also involve guest speakers from the sports industry to better understand the ways in which analytics are being used in different sports.

RSM316H1S – Machine Learning

Instructor: Raymond Kan
Prerequisite: ECO220Y1

This course will provide an overview of the basic tools in data analysis and machine learning, with emphases on applications in finance with big data. Data analysis and machine learning play an important role in FinTech.  Individual investors and financial institutions who are able to leverage these new tools and technology will have a significant advantage. This course discusses these new opportunities and challenges. It seeks to equip students with these highly coveted skills in the market.

Real world finance problems often deal with large datasets, traditionally with historical price and return as well as data on financial statements.  More recently, other databases like consumer credit and online data (like Google search) are also becoming more important for financial analysts. Dealing with such large datasets require tools to manipulate them, and we will introduce the use of Python and detailed instructions on how to perform analysis on large datasets.  Once students become comfortable with the use of Python and manipulation of large sets, we will introduce students to tools in machine learning.

Machine learning plays an important role in our financial market, from approving loans, managing portfolios, to assessing risks. Advances in machine learning technology have enabled financial institutions to explore the applications of machine learning techniques in areas like customer service, personal finance, wealth management, and risk management.

RSM319H1S – Creative Destruction Lab (Intro Course) 

Instructor: Joshua Gans
Prerequisite: None

Open to Y3 & Y4 RC students

Description: For a description of this course please visit this page:  Creative Destruction Lab (Intro Course)

RSM412H1S – Service Operations Analytics

Instructor: Akram Khaleghei
Prerequisite: RSM270H1

53% of companies are using big data analytics today, up from 17% in 2015 with services industries fueling the fastest adoption. Analytical practitioners today have a vast array of analytical capabilities and techniques at their disposal to help organizations harness their data, use it to identify new opportunities and drive strategic business decisions. These range from the most fundamental techniques, “descriptive analytics”, which involve preparing the data for subsequent analysis, to “predictive analytics” that provide advanced models to forecast and predict future, to the top-notch of analytics called “prescriptive analytics” that utilize machine-based learning algorithms and dynamic rule engines to provide interpretations and recommendations.

In this course, students will develop a working familiarity with the grounding principles of data analytics tools and techniques. Topics covered include data visualization and interpretation, feature and model selection, statistical and machine learning techniques, optimization, and deep learning. The course will also provide step-by-step training on how to apply these techniques in modern computer languages such as Python and R Studio, the most popular tools in the analytics field. During the semester, common business questions will be discussed in the context of specific services including Insurance, Healthcare, and Finance industry. Students will learn how to apply and test their underlying analytics techniques to provide practical and managerial insights using these cases.

RSM414H1F – Creativity for Business Innovation

Instructor: Angèle Beausoleil
Prerequisite: 14.0+ credits

This course will challenge you to develop your personal and professional creativity. Current research in experimental psychology suggests that creativity can be developed and refined, albeit with effort and practice. Through a combination of lectures and immersive in-class and field-based activities, you will engage in divergent thinking to see problems and opportunities more clearly and develop solutions unseen and unimagined by others. This course is useful to students across all Rotman Commerce specializations.

RSM417H1S – Sustainable Finance

Instructor: Jan Mahrt-Smith & Mikhail Simutin
Prerequisite: RSM332H1; RSM333H1

This course prepares students for the emerging jobs where future leaders must apply their commerce training together with a deep understanding and appreciation for sustainability issues and goals. Examples of these jobs range from finance roles in asset management, where ESG/CSR and other sustainability objectives and measures (e.g. fossil fuel divestment, social justice, development etc.) are fast becoming required currency, to roles inside large and small non-financial corporations and non-for-profit institutions where financial literacy and finance skills are required in the pursuit of goals related to sustainability. The market for these jobs is expanding and they range from opportunities in the traditional financial sector to the corporate sector to small fin-tech firms to the entrepreneurial start-up world. Risk management is another sector that worries about global, national, and local risks arising in fields associated with sustainability like climate change and income inequality.

This is a finance course, but it is not aimed specifically at students with high skills and career goals in finance. We expect students to have a wide range of proficiency in finance skills and diverse career goals. Yet, we believe that all students’ personal commitment to understanding sustainability issues will be high, and we encourage everyone to value and appreciate the challenge and rigor of the course in the pursuit of these goals. It will take solid business thinking and advanced business skills to encourage firms and organizations of all types to collaborate to overcome sustainability challenges. We expect students to be reasonably familiar with basic finance concepts from the RSM230/332/333 courses. A background in sustainability is not required, but an interest is helpful. The course is case and lecture based, includes discussions and guest speakers, and involves hands-on projects.

RSM419H1S – Designing for Equality

Instructor: Nika Stelman
Prerequisite: None

Open to Y3 & Y4 RC students

This exciting, hands-on, interactive course provides you with tangible tools and methods to tackle the world’s most complex problems — and reframe them as opportunities for innovation. Over the course of 12 weeks, you will hone your skill set in business design/design thinking and learn how to apply innovative problem-solving methods and design frameworks to complex challenges relating to gender and the economy. If you are interested in gaining practical skills that will help you solve complex challenges that lead to lasting social and economic impact, this course is for you. RSM 459H1 is useful background but not a pre-requisite.

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