Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Actuarial Science - PDip


Actuaries evaluate and manage financial risk. They make financial sense of the future for their clients by applying advanced mathematical and statistical techniques to solve complex financial problems.



Qualifying as an actuary is a passport to a wide variety of careers in insurance companies, investments, pensions, health care and banking – not just in the UK, but throughout the world. Kent is one of a very few universities in the UK to teach the subject.

Our Postgraduate Diploma (PDip) in Actuarial Science, MSc in Applied Actuarial Science and International Master’s are all fully accredited by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries; they also provide a fast-track route to qualifying as an actuary, because students who achieve a high enough overall mark in these programmes can obtain exemptions from the professional examinations included within their studies.

This PDip in Actuarial Science programme gives you the opportunity to gain exemptions from eight of the Core Technical subjects (CT1 to CT8) of the professional examinations and provides you with a firm foundation for the later subjects. If you perform well enough on this course to obtain the full set of exemptions available, you could reduce your time to qualify as an actuary by three years or more.

About the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science (SMSAS)

The School has a strong reputation for world-class research and a well-established system of support and training, with a high level of contact between staff and research students. Postgraduate students develop analytical, communication and research skills.

In 2010, the Centre for Actuarial Science, Risk and Investment (CASRI) was set up within SMSAS to reflect the widening scope of the teaching and research of the staff. Areas of research interest include economic capital and risk management for financial services firms, mortality and longevity modelling, longevity indices and markets. Other research topics include genetics and insurance, insurance economics, pensions and corporate reporting.

Think Kent video series

How long are you likely to live? Being able to model human longevity accurately is essential for pension schemes and life insurance companies. In this entertaining lecture, Professor Paul Sweeting, Professor of Actuarial Science at the University of Kent, explores the key issues, and how research is helping to address them.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science was ranked 25th in the UK for research power and 100% or our research was judged to be of international quality.

An impressive 92% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure

The PDip is a nine-month, full-time intensive programme that is suited to students who have a degree in mathematics, statistics or economics.

Leading to the award of Diploma, it covers the syllabus of the Core Technical Stage of the professional examinations of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, and offers the opportunity to gain exemption from eight subjects (subjects CT1 to CT8 inclusive). Find out more about accreditation for this programme and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries examinations.

Although you only need to take 120 credits (equivalent to a minimum of four subjects leading to the professional examinations) for the Diploma, you can take further subjects for exemption purposes. If you take fewer than 120 credits, you may be eligible for a Postgraduate Certificate in Actuarial Science.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Modules may include Credits

This module will introduce the basic concepts of probability and statistics, with applications to a variety of topics illustrated with real data. The techniques that are discussed can be used in their own right to solve simple problems, but also serve as an important foundation for later, more advanced, modules. After dealing with key ideas in probability theory, the module will cover descriptive statistics, before moving on to statistical inference - the science of drawing conclusions from data. A brief introduction to statistical computing will be included. Outline syllabus includes: Concepts and axioms of probability; marginal, conditional and joint probabilities; Bayes' theorem; discrete and continuous random variables; expectation; common distributions; numerical summaries of data; sampling distributions; point estimation; interval estimation and hypothesis tests; association between variables; goodness of fit.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT3 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see for further details.

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This module covers aspects of Statistics which are particularly relevant to insurance. Some topics (such as risk theory and credibility theory) have been developed specifically for actuarial use. Other areas (such as Bayesian Statistics) have been developed in other contexts but now find applications in actuarial fields. Stochastic processes of events such as accidents, together with the financial flow of their payouts underpin much of the work. Since the earliest games of chance, the probability of ruin has been a topic of interest. Outline Syllabus includes: Decision Theory; Bayesian Statistics; Loss Distributions; Reinsurance; Credibility Theory; Empirical Bayes Credibility theory; Risk Models; Ruin Theory; Generalised Linear Models; Run-off Triangles.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT6 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see for further details.

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This module is a pre-requisite for many of the other statistics modules at Stages 2, 3 and 4, but it can equally well be studied as a module in its own right, extending the ideas of probability and statistics met at Stage 1 and providing practice with the mathematical skills learned in MA321. Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT3 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. It starts by revising the idea of a probability distribution for one or more random variables, and then looks at different methods to derive the distribution of a function of random variables. These techniques are then used to prove some of the results underpinning the hypothesis test and confidence interval calculations met at Stage 1, such as for the t-test or the F-test. With these tools to hand, the module moves on to look at how to fit models (probability distributions) to sets of data. A standard technique, known as the method of maximum likelihood, is introduced, which is then used to fit the model to the data to obtain point estimates of the model parameters and to construct hypothesis tests and confidence intervals for these parameters.  Linear regression and analysis of variance models are introduced, which aim to describe the relationship between a random variable of interest and one or more covariates,  for example the relationship between income and education level or gender. Outline Syllabus includes: Joint, marginal and conditional distributions of discrete and continuous random variables; Generating functions; Transformations of random variables; Poisson processes; Sampling distributions; Point and interval estimation; Properties of estimators; Maximum likelihood; Hypothesis testing; Neyman-Pearson lemma; Maximum likelihood ratio test; Simple linear regression: ANOVA.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT3 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see for further details.

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A time series is a collection of observations made sequentially in time. Examples occur in a variety of fields, ranging from economics to engineering, and methods of analysing time series constitute an important area of statistics. This module focuses initially on various time series models, including some recent developments, and provides modern statistical tools for their analysis. The second part of the module covers extensively simulation methods. These methods are becoming increasingly important tools as simulation models can be easily designed and run on modern PCs. Various practical examples are considered to help students tackle the analysis of real data.The syllabus includes: Difference equations, Stationary Time Series: ARMA process. Nonstationary Processes: ARIMA Model Building and Testing: Estimation, Box Jenkins, Criteria for choosing between models, Diagnostic tests.Forecasting: Box-Jenkins, Prediction bounds. Testing for Trends and Unit Roots: Dickey-Fuller, ADF, Structural change, Trend-stationarity vs difference stationarity. Seasonality and Volatility: ARCH, GARCH, ML estimation. Multiequation Time Series Models: Spectral Analysis. Generation of pseudo – random numbers, simulation methods: inverse transform and acceptance-rejection, design issues and sensitivity analysis.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT6 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see for further details.

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This module introduces the concept of survival models, which model future survival time as a random variable. The concept is combined with the financial mathematics learned in module MA820, making it possible to analyse simple contracts which depend on survival time, such as life insurance and annuities. The syllabus will cover: introduction to survival models including actuarial notation, allowance for temporary initial selection and an overview of the typical pattern of human mortality; formulae for the means and variances of the present values of payments under life insurance and annuity contracts assuming constant deterministic interest; practical methods for evaluating the formulae; description and calculation of net premiums, net premium provisions and mortality profit or loss under simple life insurance and annuity contracts; and extension of the basic concepts to straightforward contracts involving two lives.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT5 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see for further details.

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Life Contingencies is concerned with the probabilities of life and death. Its practical application requires a considerable sophistication in mathematical techniques to ensure the soundness of many of the biggest financial institutions – life assurance companies and pension funds. This module introduces the actuarial mathematics which is needed for this. The aim of this module (together with MA816 – Contingencies 1) is to provide a grounding in the mathematical techniques which can be used to model and value cash flows dependent on death, survival, or other uncertain risks and cover the application of these techniques to calculate premium rates for annuities and assurances on one or more lives and the reserves that should be held for these contracts. Outline syllabus includes variable benefits and with profits contracts; gross premiums and reserves for fixed and variable benefit contracts; competing risks; pension funds; profit testing and reserves; mortality, selection and standardisation. This module together with module MA816 cover the entire syllabus of the UK Actuarial Profession's subject CT5 – Contingencies

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The aim of this module is to introduce students to the core economic principles and how these could be used in a business environment to help decision making and behaviour. The coverage is aimed at giving a coherent coverage of the material suitable for students of finance, where understanding economic concepts and principles is important and also to enable the students to gain exemptions from the actuarial subject Business Economics. The syllabus coverage includes: the working of competitive markets, consumer demand and behaviour, product selection, marketing and advertising strategies, costs of production, production function, revenue and profit, profit maximisation under perfect competition and monopoly, imperfect competition, business strategy, the objectives of strategic management, firms growth strategy, pricing strategies, government intervention, international trade, balance of payment and exchange rates, the role of money and interest rates in the economy, the level of business activity, unemployment, inflation and macroeconomic policy.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT7 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see for further details.

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The aim of this module is to provide a grounding in financial mathematics and its simple applications. The idea of interest, which may be regarded as a price for the use of money, is fundamental to all long-term financial contracts. The module deals with accumulation of past payments and the discounting of future payments at fixed and varying rates of interest; it is fundamental to the financial aspects of Actuarial Science. The syllabus will cover: Generalised cashflow models, the time value of money, real and money interest rates, discounting and accumulating, compound interest functions, equations of value, loan schedules, project appraisal, investments, elementary compound interest problems, arbitrage free pricing and the pricing and valuation of forward contracts, the term structure of interest rates, stochastic interest rate models.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT1 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see for further details.

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Calculations in life assurance, pensions and health insurance require reliable estimates of transition intensities/survival rates. This module covers the estimation of these intensities and the graduation of these estimates so they can be used reliably by insurance companies and pension schemes. The syllabus includes the following: Principles of actuarial modelling. Distribution and density functions of the random future lifetime, the survival function and the force of hazard. Estimation procedures for lifetime distributions including censoring, Kaplan-Meier estimate, Nelson-Aalen estimate and Cox model. Statistical models of transfers between states. Maximum likelihood estimators for the transition intensities. Binomial and Poisson models of mortality. Estimation of age-dependent transition intensities. The graduation process. Testing of graduations. Measuring the exposed-to-risk.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT4 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see for further details.

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This module provides an introduction to the principles of corporate finance, financial reporting, the financial markets and financial institutions. It is intended for students of Finance and Actuarial Science. The syllabus introduces and develops the concepts and elements of corporate finance including a knowledge of the instruments used by companies to raise finance and manage financial risk. It introduces the concepts and techniques of financial accounting and enables students to understand and interpret critically financial reports of companies and financial institutions including financial statements used by pension funds and insurance companies. It also covers the basic techniques non financial organisations use to assess and manage their operational risk and the interaction between risk, return and financing costs.

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An investor needs an assortment of tools in their toolkit to weigh up risk and return in alternative investment opportunities. This module introduces various measures of investment risk and optimal investment strategies using modern portfolio theory. Pricing of assets using the classical capital asset pricing model and arbitrage pricing theory are discussed. The theory of Brownian motion is used to analyse the behaviour of the lognormal model of asset prices, which is then compared with the auto-regressive Wilkie model of economic variables and asset prices. Principles of utility theory, behavioural finance and efficient market hypothesis provide the context from an investor's perspective. Outline syllabus includes: Measures of investment risk, Mean-Variance Portfolio Theory, Capital Asset Pricing Model, Arbitrage Pricing Theory, Brownian Motion, Lognormal Model, Wilkie Model, Utility Theory and Stochastic Dominance, Efficient Market Hypothesis and Behavioural Finance.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT8 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see for further details.

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A stochastic process is a process developing in time according to probability rules; for example, models for reserves in insurance companies, queue formation, the behaviour of a population of bacteria, and the persistence (or otherwise) of an unusual surname through successive generations. The module will focus on the idea of a stochastic process, and show how this notion can be combined with probability and matrix to build a stochastic model. It will include coverage of a wide variety of stochastic processes and their applications; random walk; Markov chains; processes in continuous-time such as the Poisson process, the birth and death process and Brownian motion; renewal processes; queues; branching processes; epidemic models.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT4 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see for further details.

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This module introduces the main features of basic financial derivative contracts and develops pricing techniques. Principle of no-arbitrage, or absence of risk-free arbitrage opportunities, is applied to determine prices of derivative contracts, within the framework of binomial tree and geometric Brownian motion models. The interplay between pricing and hedging strategies, along with risk management principles, are emphasized to explain the mechanisms behind derivative instruments. Models of interest rate and credit risk are also discussed in this context.  Outline syllabus includes: An introduction to derivatives, binomial tree model, Black-Scholes option pricing formula, Greeks and derivative risk management, interest rate models, credit risk models.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CT8 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see for further details.

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This module is split into two parts: 1. An introduction to the practical experience of working with the financial software package, PROPHET, which is used by commercial companies worldwide for profit testing, valuation and model office work. The syllabus includes: overview of the uses and applications of PROPHET, introduction on how to use the software, setting up and performing a profit test for a product , analysing and checking the cash flow results obtained for reasonableness, using the edit facility on input files, performing sensitivity tests , creating a new product using an empty workspace by selecting the appropriate indicators and variables for that product and setting up the various input files, debugging errors in the setting up of the new product, performing a profit test for the new product and analysing the results. 2. An introduction to financial modelling techniques on spreadsheets which will focus on documenting the process of model design and communicating the model's results. The module enables students to prepare, analyse and summarise data, develop simple financial and actuarial spreadsheet models to solve financial and actuarial problems, and apply, interpret and communicate the results of such models.

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is usually by a mixture of coursework and examination; exact weightings vary from module to module.


Students who are considered to have performed sufficiently well in the programme (both in examinations and coursework), as determined by an examiner appointed by the UK Actuarial Profession, will be exempt from all the CT subjects studied within the programme. If a student fails to achieve a suitable overall standard, they might still be awarded individual module exemptions as recommended by the Profession’s examiner. Please note that individual exemptions are granted based on the final written examinations only.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • give you the depth of technical appreciation and skills appropriate to a Master’s level programme in actuarial science
  • provide successful students with eligibility for subject exemptions from the Core Technical series of examinations of the actuarial profession. This means obtaining a thorough knowledge and understanding of various core actuarial techniques and gaining current knowledge and understanding of the practice of some of the major areas in which actuaries are involved
  • ensure you are competent in the use of information technology, and are familiar with computers, together with the relevant software
  • introduce you to an appreciation of recent actuarial developments, and of the links between subject theories and their practical application in industry
  • prepare you for employment within the actuarial profession and other financial fields
  • provide suitable preparation for students who wish to proceed to the MSc in Applied Actuarial Science.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • statistical, economic or specific actuarial mathematical techniques at an advanced level and their applications to insurance, covering areas such as financial mathematics, financial accounting, survival models, economics, financial economics, time series and stochastic processes
  • the actuarial and financial theory and the complex techniques applicable to solve problems in some of the major areas of current professional actuarial practice.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to demonstrate a systematic understanding of the main body of knowledge for the programme
  • the ability to demonstrate advanced skills in calculation and manipulation of the material written within the programme
  • the ability to apply a range of concepts and principles in various contexts
  • the ability for logical argument using specialised knowledge
  • the ability to demonstrate advanced skills in solving problems in complex situations by various appropriate methods.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the specific mathematical and statistical techniques used in actuarial science, and in their application to solving actuarial and other financial problems
  • the specific information technology and software used in actuarial science (optional learning outcome: this will only apply if you take the Financial Modelling module)
  • understanding the practical applications of programme material in insurance and finance
  • the ability to develop simple actuarial computer models to solve actuarial problems and to interpret and communicate the results (optional learning outcome: this will only apply if you take the Financial Modelling module).

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • problem-solving skills, relating to qualitative and quantitative information (including cases where information/data is not complete)
  • communications skills, covering both written and oral communication to both technical and non-technical audiences
  • numeracy and computational skills
  • information technology skills such as word-processing and spreadsheet use, internet communication etc
  • time-management and organisational skills, as evidenced by the ability to plan and implement efficient and effect modes of working
  • study skills needed for advancing knowledge and understanding, for developing new skills and for continuing professional development.


The UK Actuarial Profession

The UK Actuarial Profession is small, but influential and well rewarded. There are more than 6,500 actuaries currently employed in the UK, the majority of whom work in insurance companies and consultancy practices.

Survey results published by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries suggest that the average basic salary for a student actuary is £36,842 with pay and bonuses increasingly sharply as you become more experienced. The average basic salary of a Chief Actuary is £209,292.

As an actuary, your work is extremely varied and can include: advising companies on the amount of funds to set aside for employee pension payments; designing new insurance policies and setting premium rates; pricing financial derivatives and working in fund management and quantitative investment research; advising life insurance companies on he distribution of surplus funds; and estimating the effects of possible major disasters, such as earthquakes or hurricanes, and setting premium rates for insurance against such disasters. For more information about the actuarial profession, see

Employability support

Helping our students to develop strong employability skills is a key objective within the School and the University. We provide a wide range of services and support to equip you with transferable vocational skills that enable you to secure appropriate professional positions within industry. Within the School we run specialist seminars and provide advice on creating a strong CV, making job applications and successfully attending interviews and assessment centres.

Our graduates have gone on to successful careers in the actuarial, finance, insurance and risk sectors.

Professional recognition

Offers exemptions from subjects CT1 to CT8 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries professional examinations, with the option to take further subjects for exemption purposes.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The University’s Templeman Library houses a comprehensive collection of books and research periodicals. The University of Kent has entered into an exclusive arrangement with SunGard, a global leader in integrated software and processing solutions primarily for financial services, who market the industry’s leading actuarial software package PROPHET. As a result, our taught postgraduate courses include optional modules on the uses and applications of PROPHET.

Professional qualifications

This Postgraduate Diploma in Actuarial Science offers exemption from eight subjects within the Core Technical Stage of the professional examinations of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

The MSc in Applied Actuarial Science offers exemption from subjects in the Core Applications Stage and the Specialist Technical Stage of the professional examinations.

The International Master’s offers exemptions from eight subjects within the Core Technical stage in the first year and exemptions from the Core Applications and Specialist Technical stages in the second year of the programme.

Links with industry

The Centre for Actuarial Science, Risk and Investment maintains close relationships with industry actuaries through the Invicta Actuarial Society, a regional actuarial society which holds its meetings at the Canterbury campus and is organised by University of Kent students and academic staff. The Society hosts an annual lecture in conjunction with the Worshipful Company of Actuaries, featuring prestigious speakers from industry and the profession. The Society also arranges talks from external speakers including practitioners, careers advisers and recruiters from the UK and overseas.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: British Actuarial Journal; Actuary Australia; Annals of Actuarial Science; Journal of Pension Economics and Finance. Details of recently published books can be found under staff research interests.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A good first degree (usually in mathematics, statistics or economics, although other subjects with a high mathematical content are acceptable).

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Work in actuarial science at the University of Kent can be divided into three broad themes achieving a balance of theoretical and applied investigations, as well as addressing social policy implications.

Economic capital and financial risk management

With the advent of new risk-based regulations for financial services firms, specifically Basel 2 and Basel 3 for banks and Solvency 2 for insurers, there is now a heightened focus on the practical implementation of quantitative risk management techniques for firms and defined benefit pension schemes operating within the financial services sector.

In particular, financial services firms are now expected to self-assess and quantify the amount of capital they need to cover the risks they are running. This self-assessed quantum of capital is commonly termed risk, or economic, capital.

At Kent we are actively involved in developing rigorous risk management techniques to explicitly measure how much risk a firm or pension scheme is taking, holistically, across the entire spectrum of risks it accepts.

More about our research in this area

Longevity risk

Longevity risk represents a substantial threat to the stability of support programmes for the elderly, most notably to the subset that provides income protection but also to non-traditional products such as home equity release schemes.

One approach to dealing with longevity risk is to model key factors that influence mortality; this may be achieved using aggregate (causal) mortality rates or panel data with individual-specific covariates. Another approach to modelling longevity risk is via an investigation of positive quadrant dependence between lives, which requires a multivariate framework. Once this is in place, longevity risk may be investigated on various fronts ranging from entire populations to couples.

More about our research in this area

Public policy aspects of risk classification

Restrictions on risk classification can lead to adverse selection, and actuaries usually regard this as a bad thing. However, restrictions do exist in many countries, suggesting that policymakers often perceive some merit in such restrictions. Careful re-examination of the usual actuarial arguments can help to reconcile these observations.

Models of insurance purchasing behaviour under different risk classification regimes can quantify the effects of particular bans, e.g. on insurers’ use of genetic test results, or gender classification in the European Union.

More about our research in this area

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Professor Paul J Sweeting: Professor of Actuarial Science

Enterprise risk management; longevity; pensions. 

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Dr Pradip Tapadar: Senior Lecturer in Actuarial Science

Economic capital and financial risk management; genetics and insurance.

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Dr Daniel Alai: Lecturer in Actuarial Science

Longevity risk and lifetime dependence modelling; stochastic claims reserving; quantitative risk management.

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The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Actuarial Science - PDip at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £10480 £15200

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.


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