Why study Actuarial Science?

Studying actuarial science at postgraduate level can be very rewarding. You will develop a diverse skillset that will enable you to not only enter the actuarial industry, but also transfer these skills, which by nature are applicable to wider traditional and non-traditional disciplines, should you later decide on a different career path. Studying actuarial science before going into the workplace enables you to develop a deep understanding of the industry and the different types of actuarial roles, which will allow you to apply for roles in an area that interests you from the understanding you gain from the course. Equally important, studying actuarial science at an accredited university by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in the UK will enable you to quickly gain exemptions from professional exams you will be expected to take when joining a company. These exams are inherently challenging, and this can be exacerbated when trying to fit them into your day job even with study leave. The number of exemptions and the flexibility of what exemptions you can gain does vary among institutions, so we recommend that you do your research.

Who should study an actuarial postgraduate course?

First, you should have an actuarial interest and usually a strong background in mathematical / quantitative subjects. However, whether you are fresh out of university or looking for a career change, or even have some industry experience and are looking for a course to help you get a boost in your career or clear some of the professional exams, there is an actuarial course to suit you. For example, if you have limited experience or are new to actuarial science, you would be looking for a course that provides you with learning and the opportunity to gain exemptions from the Core Principles subjects. If you already have some experience and the appropriate Core Principles achieved, you may be looking to get through the remaining exams quicker, hence be looking for a course that gives you the opportunity to study further Core Practices and Specialist Principles subjects. Depending on your course choices, you will be able to achieve the number of permitted exemptions for universities by the IFoA required to qualify as Fellow actuaries. To give you an idea, we next outline the general structure of available postgraduate degrees.

MSc Actuarial Science

On this postgraduate course, you will study statistics, probability, stochastic processes, survival models, economics, finance and investment, insurance, pensions, financial modelling and contracts valuation, with computer-based applications. This broad and varied syllabus is typically equivalent to the Core Principles subjects (CM1, CM2, CS1, CS2, CB1, CB2), and enables you to gain exemptions from them. Variants of this degree additionally offer you the opportunity to study modelling practice, by applying actuarial techniques to solve real-world problems, communication with non-actuaries on topics related to actuarial practice, but also business and predictive analytics modules helping you cultivate the skillset for modern actuaries and become competent in an ever-changing global business environment.

MSc Actuarial Management

On this postgraduate course, material is covered relating to the later stages of the professional exams, namely, the Core Practices and Specialist Principles subjects. Such a course aims to delve into concepts of core practice as well as specific specialist actuarial areas mentioned earlier using technical and business skill learnt in Core Principles. You can gain exemptions from Actuarial Practice (CP1), Modelling Practice (CP2), Communications Practice (CP3) and the Specialist Principles (SP) subjects. A collection of business and data analytics modules is also offered.

Questions to ask when considering courses

  • Who is teaching you? For example, at Bayes Business School you will be taught and receive advice on study and exam techniques by qualified actuaries, academics and other subject-specialists with commercial experience and research expertise.
  • What are the course links with industry? Understand whether you will be exposed to people working in the industry through teaching but also other activities, such as clubs and societies, as this will help you build your professional network as well as understand more about it and the opportunities available.
  • What does the careers support look like? This can vary among institutions, so make sure you know what this looks like and whether it fits with your expectations and needs. Some questions you may want to consider include, for example, “Is careers support/professional development timetabled as part of the course?”, “Is it tailored to the course and industries I’m applying to?”, “Do I get support before I join the course and for how long after I finish?”, “What is the experience of the people delivering it?”.
  • Reputation of the course? This is sometimes harder to find out, but, for example, look for whether universities are accredited to give exemptions, have good research rankings and links with the industry and the professional bodies.
  • Global alumni community? Does the academic institution run a structured programme of alumni outreach and engagement? Strong alumni relationships help build relationships with the new crop of talent coming through the programme. This also creates opportunities to support and celebrate programme developments with the connected community worldwide.
  • Financial support? A master’s degree can change your career and your life, but it is a significant financial investment. It is important to plan how you will fund your studies. Investigate possibilities like course scholarships, alumni discounts and other external funding opportunities for postgraduate study.
  • Is there anything else that differentiates a course? For example, at Bayes we pride ourselves on the flexibility of our courses from the summer term electives which can also be combined with research routes, offering more flexibility, a variety of disciplines, but also more control over studies to the individual.

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