Actuarial Science

Applied Actuarial Science - MSc

2019

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.

2019

Overview

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 MSc in Applied Actuarial Science is fully accredited by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries; it also provides a fast-track route to qualifying as an actuary, because students who achieve a high enough overall mark in this programme can obtain exemptions from the professional examinations included within their studies.

The MSc is available as a full-time (one-year) or part-time (two-year) programme and is suitable for those who have completed a first degree or postgraduate diploma in Actuarial Science, or those who have studied the majority of the earlier subjects in the Core Technical Stage subjects.

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.

The Centre includes 13 professionally qualified actuaries with many years’ practical experience in insurance and pensions, and who maintain excellent links with the actuarial profession.

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, 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality and we were ranked 25th in the UK for research power.

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 course is based on a ‘core modules plus options’ structure and exemptions can be gained from the following professional examinations in the Core Applications Stage and Specialist Technical Stage: CA1, CA3, ST2, ST4 to ST9. You can also choose the optional Financial Modelling modules, which prepare you for subject CA2 in the Core Applications Stage. Find out more about accreditation for this programme and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries examinations.

You must take 180 credits in order to pass the MSc. If you take fewer than 180 credits, you may be eligible for the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Actuarial Science.

Modules

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

The aim of this module is to develop the student's ability to apply a wide range of key actuarial concepts in simple traditional and non-traditional situations. Outline syllabus includes: stakeholders; providers of benefits; managing risks; marketing; life and general insurance products; regulatory regimes; external environment; project management; capital project appraisal; cashflows of simple products; money, bond, equity and property markets; futures and options; collective investment vehicles; overseas markets; economic influences on investment markets; other factors affecting relative valuation; relationship between returns on asset classes; asset modelling; meeting institutional investor needs; personal investment; valuation of individual investments; valuation of asset classes and portfolios; developing an investment strategy.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CA1 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see http://www.kent.ac.uk/casri/Accreditation/index.html for further details.

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Actuaries deal with complex actuarial and financial concepts in multi-disciplinary teams, so it is vital that they can communicate these concepts clearly and effectively to a wider audience. This module helps students to develop the ability to present fundamental actuarial ideas and concepts clearly to a wide range of different recipients. Students will be expected to demonstrate effective communication skills using a variety of different media, including PowerPoint slide presentations, and formal/informal letters and e-mails. Exercises are based on real-world commercial situations, and there are two group exercises, one of which is assessed.

Marks on this module can count towards exemption from the professional examination CA3 of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Please see http://www.kent.ac.uk/casri/Accreditation/index.html for further details.

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Teaching and Assessment

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

Accreditation

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 subjects CA1, CA3 and the Specialist Technical subjects studied within the programme. 

If you fail to achieve a suitable overall standard, you 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:

  • provide successful students with eligibility for subject exemptions from the Core Application and Specialist Technical series of examinations of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. This means obtaining a thorough knowledge of  core actuarial applications, developing the ability to apply this knowledge in a practical situation and gaining current knowledge and understanding of the practice of major areas in which actuaries are involved.
  • develop your understanding, knowledge and awareness of current problems, much of which is at the forefront of current professional practice.
  • ensure you are competent in the use of information technology, and are familiar with computers, together with the relevant software.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • complex techniques applicable to the solution of problems in all the major areas of current professional actuarial practice
  • complex current issues in the major areas of current professional practice. 

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to demonstrate a high level of understanding of the main body of knowledge for the programme
  • the ability to demonstrate skill 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
  • the ability to demonstrate advanced skills in solving problems in complex situations by various appropriate methods
  • the ability to work with relatively little guidance.

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 problems
  • understanding the practical applications of programme material in insurance.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • communication: the ability to organise information clearly, respond to written sources, present information orally, adapt style for different audiences and use images as a communication tool
  • numeracy: make sense of statistical materials, integrate numerical and non-numerical information, understand the limits and potentialities of arguments based on quantitative information
  • information technology: produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email
  • improve your own learning: explore your personal strengths and weaknesses, time management, review your working environment (especially the student-staff relationship), develop specialist learning skills (eg foreign languages), develop autonomy in learning.
  • problem-solving: identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them
  • working with others: the ability to define and review the work of others, work co-operatively on group tasks, understand how groups function
  • the ability to make sound judgements
  • the ability to make decisions in complex situations.

Careers

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 www.actuaries.org.uk

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

Professional accreditation by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries

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

The 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 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 in Actuarial Science, or a degree that covers all or most of the Core Technical Stage subjects of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ examinations. We may also accept applicants who have a good first degree in another subject and who have passed most of the Core Technical Stage subjects.

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.

Dr Daniel Alai: Lecturer in Actuarial Science

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

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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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Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Applied Actuarial Science - MSc at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £12940 £19000

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 information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: