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Actuarial Science

Course overview

(MSc) Master of Science
Actuarial Science
University of Essex
University of Essex
Mathematical Sciences
Colchester Campus
Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research
MSC N32312

A degree with an overall mid 2.2 in one of the following subjects: Mathematics, Statistics, Operational research, Finance, Economics, Business Engineering, Computing, Biology, Physics or Chemistry.

Will consider applicants with a unrelated degree but which contained at least three modules in calculus, algebra, differential equations, probability & statistics, optimisation or other mathematical modules.

Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent will be considered dependent on any relevant professional or voluntary experience, previous modules studied and/or personal statement.

IELTS 6.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

External Examiners

Prof Fionn Murtagh
Professor of Data Science

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2019 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study
Compulsory You must take this module There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 MA981-7-FY Dissertation Core 60 Core
02 MA902-7-FY Research Methods Compulsory 15 Compulsory
03 MA312-7-AU Contingencies Compulsory 15 Compulsory
04 MA318-7-AU Statistical Methods Compulsory 15 Compulsory
05 MA319-7-AU Stochastic Processes Compulsory 15 Compulsory
06 MA320-7-SP Financial Derivatives Compulsory 15 Compulsory
07 MA216-7-SP Survival Analysis Compulsory 15 Compulsory
08 MA311-7-SP Mathematics of Portfolios Compulsory 15 Compulsory
09 MA211-7-SP or MA200-7-AU Compulsory with Options 15 Compulsory with Options
10 MA199-7-FY Mathematics Careers and Employability Compulsory 0 Compulsory

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

This course is based on modules that cover the syllabus of the following Core Technical subjects of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, CT4, CT5, CT6, CT8 and (depending on the options chosen) one of CT2 and CT3. The syllabus is covered as required by the IFoA by 80% or more. The course includes a series of taught modules, providing up-to-date research findings in actuarial methodologies and actuarial applications. The course provides a solid training in actuarial modelling and actuarial analysis. The course aims to provide an advanced understanding of the theoretical, practical and technological developments that affect the whole of the actuarial discipline. There are a number of possible areas of specialization within the program, including Life Insurance, General Insurance and Actuarial and Financial Modelling. The M.Sc. in Actuarial Science aims to prepare students for careers as practicing actuaries in the insurance, pension, financial and consulting industries.
The course also provides the foundation for a career in many areas of actuarial science, finance and risk. It is also based on modules that cover the syllabus of the majority of the Core Technical subjects of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

The course will produce specialists who will help meet the demand for actuaries to support the local, and national economy, and beyond.

Students will also have the chance to study a problem in depth through a Master's thesis project on a subject chosen by them or their supervisor. The Master's thesis project will enable students to apply complex techniques to the solution of problems in all the major areas of current professional actuarial practice, such as Life Insurance, General Insurance and Pensions.

The aims of the MSc in Actuarial Science are:
To develop students' ability to formulate and solve advanced actuarial problems and to understand and apply complex techniques to the solution of problems in all the areas of current professional actuarial practice;
To offer an innovative, dynamic and flexible programme that considers advanced developments in the academic study of actuarial science;
To develop in students appreciation of actuarial methods, and of the links between the theory of the subjects and their practical application in industry;
To develop skills and ability to use the advanced mathematical and statistical techniques used in actuarial science, and their application to solving actuarial problems;
To develop in students a logical, formal and quantitative approach to solving advanced actuarial problems;
To develop the skill of interpretation of statistical and actuarial outputs, integration of numerical and non-numerical information, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of arguments based on quantitative information;
To provide advanced knowledge about the insurance sector, the financial sector and risk management;
To equip and develop advanced tools and skills to tackle complex issues and problems in financial analysis and in the use of financial derivatives;
To provide students with a knowledge and skills base from which to develop further abilities to understand and critically analyse advanced life insurance and general insurance problems;
To form all rounded actuarial professionals with excellent grounding in the mathematical and statistical approach;
To provide a favourable teaching and learning environment for students to evolve, thrive and achieve their potential.
To provide the skills required for critical reasoning and interpretation of information in a manner that can be communicated effectively to non-specialists.

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1 Knowledge and understanding of the use of mathematics for modelling and as an investigative tool for the solution of practical problems. An appreciation of the importance of assumptions.
A2 Understanding of contemporary theories relating to portfolio analysis, asset allocation and the market efficiency debate
A3 Knowledge and understanding of the principles of finance relevant to Actuarial Science.
A4 Knowledge and understanding of the principles of specific actuarial mathematics techniques
A5 Knowledge and understanding of the subjects of probability and inference and specialist statistics applications in insurance
A6 Knowlede and understanding of information technology skills as relevant to an actuary
A7 A range of ideas concerning Mathematics and Finance, including methods appropriate in specialized applications and some knowledge of relevant probabilistic/statistical/computing ideas.
A8 Knowledge and understanding of the application of reasoning in financial analysis to applied topics.
A9 Analyse in-depth financial techniques that are used in actuarial science.
A10 Critically analyse life insurance and survival analysis data and apply complex techniques for life insurance pricing.
Learning Methods: Lectures are the principal method of delivery for the concepts and principles involved. Students are also directed to reading from textbooks and material available on-line. In some modules, understanding is enhanced through the production of a written report, and also by means of laboratories and assignments.
Assessment Methods: Achievement of knowledge outcomes is assessed primarily through unseen closed-book examinations, and also, in some modules through marked coursework, laboratory reports, statistical assignments, project reports and oral examinations.
Regular problem sheets provide formative assessment in most modules.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 Analyse a specified problem and choose the most suitable methods and tools for its solution.
B2 Assess the relative merits of a range of theories, techniques and tools needed for a problem's solution or to articulate arguments and policies.
B3 Synthesise and interpret information from a range of sources (lectures, classes, journals, books, etc.) developing a critical evaluation of the importance and relevance of the sources to an area of study.
B4 Construct reasoned, informed and concise descriptions and assessments of accounting or finance ideas.
B5 Critically evaluate contemporary theories and empirical evidence, marshal evidence, develop an argument (in writing) and present ideas in a coherent and effective manner;
B6 Manipulate and analyse numerical (including financial) data and appreciate the nature and limitations of basic statistical concepts;
B101 Integrate and link information across course components.
B102 Under guidance of a supervisor, plan and carry out a piece of research and present the results in a coherent fashion.
B103 Make an effective literature search
B104 Reason critically and interpret information in a manner that can be communicated effectively to non-specialists.
Learning Methods: The basis for intellectual skills is provided in lectures, and the skills are developed by means of recommended reading, guided and independent study, assignments and project work.
Assessment Methods: Achievement of intellectual skills is assessed primarily through unseen closed-book examinations, and also through marked assignments and project work.

C: Practical skills

C1 Use computer packages and/or programming languages for data analysis and computation and use computer packages for presentation of material to others.
C2 The ability to apply a rigorous, analytic, highly numerate approach to a problem.
C3 Identify, select and gather information, using the relevant sources.
C4 Organise ideas in a systematic way.
C5 Present financial ideas and arguments coherently in writing.
C6 Use and apply the terminology and concepts of finance.
Learning Methods: The students learn to use the R programming language and Microsoft Excel in a variety of actuarial, financial and statistical tasks.
The practical skills of actuarial science including mathematics, statistics and finance are developed in exercise classes, laboratory classes, assignments, project work and the MSc thesis.
Assessment Methods: Achievement of practical skills is assessed through marked coursework and project reports.

D: Key skills

D1 Communicate effectively, both mathematical arguments and textual accounts of ideas.
D2 Use appropriate IT facilities as a tool in the analysis of mathematical problems.
D3 Use mathematical techniques correctly.
D4 Analyse complex problems and find effective solutions.
D5 Organise activity and manage time in the course of study.
D6 Capacity to: (a) organise and implement a plan of independent study, (b) reflect on his or her own learning experience and adapt in response to feedback; (c) recognise when he or she needs to learn more and appreciate the role of additional research.
Learning Methods: D1 is practised throughout the scheme in the writing of solutions to mathematical problems, both for assessment and as exercises, and (in some modules) writing reports or projects.

D1 and D2 are developed in group and individual project work.

D2 is developed through the use of computer packages in a number of modules.

D3 - D6 are developed in exercises and assignments throughout the course.

Assessment Methods: D1 is assessed through examinations, coursework and oral examinations.

D2 is assessed primarily through coursework.

Assessment of the key skills D3 - D6 is intrinsic to subject based assessment.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: