Actuarial Science with an Industrial Placement - MSc

Actuaries evaluate and manage financial risk. The Actuarial Science MSc prepares graduates from a mathematical background for a career as an actuary. No prior knowledge of actuarial science is required.

Overview

Studying actuarial science on this conversion programme 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.

Our MSc 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.

As one of the few universities to offer actuarial science in the UK, Kent’s programme is recognised for its strong mix of theoretical and practical expertise. The teaching staff include many actuaries drawn from professional practice, along with specialised researchers.

Accreditation - Institute and Faculty of Actuaries

In 2019 the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) introduced a new actuarial qualification structure. We are delighted to say that we successfully achieved re-accreditation for all of our Actuarial Science programmes and have been offering exemptions under the IFoA's new qualification structure since September 2019.

About the Centre for Actuarial Science, Risk and Investment

In 2010, the Centre for Actuarial Science, Risk and Investment (CASRI) was set up within the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science to reflect the widening scope of the teaching and research of the staff. Within CASRI, research in actuarial science can be broadly classified into the following three themes: economic capital and financial risk management, longevity risk modelling, and public policy aspects of insurance risk classification. This achieves a balance between theoretical and applied investigations, as well as addressing social policy implications. The group has a deep and long-standing association with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, as well as with other educational institutions worldwide.

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 University of Kent lecture, Honorary Professor Paul Sweeting, FIA, explores the key issues and how research is helping to address them.


Accreditation

Institute and Faculty of Actuaries

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, professional qualifications and relevant experience may 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. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

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.

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Course structure

Duration: 2 years full-time

The course is based on a ‘core modules plus options’ structure and exemptions can be gained from professional examinations.

You must take 360 credits in order to pass the MSc with Industrial Placement.

Your placement

Placements last for 12 months, commencing in June/July of the Summer Term. Upon completion of your placement, you will return to Kent to take your exams.  Placements may be undertaken in the UK or overseas.

The University does not guarantee every student will find a placement.  Those who do not secure a placement will be transferred to the MSc programme without a placement.

The placement consists of two modules: Industrial Placement Experience and Industrial Placement Report. The Experience module is assessed as pass/fail only and the Report module is graded on a categorical scale.

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.

Compulsory modules currently include

Students spend a period doing paid work in an organisation outside the University, usually in an industrial or commercial environment, applying and enhancing the skills and techniques they have developed and studied earlier during their degree programme. Employer evaluation, personal and professional reviews and on-line blogs are assessed under MAST7805 (Industrial Placement Experience) which is a co-requisite of this module. The assessment of this module draws on the experience gained in MAST7805 and is assessed through a Placement Report and Presentation.

The placement work they do is entirely under the direction of their industrial supervisor, but support is provided by the SMSAS Placement Officer or a member of the academic team. This support includes ensuring that the work they are being expected to do is such that they can meet the learning outcomes of this module.

Participation in the placement year, and hence in this module, is dependent on students obtaining an appropriate placement, for which support and guidance is provided through the School in the year leading up to the placement. It is also dependent on satisfactory achievement in their academic studies.

Find out more about MA976

Students spend a period of time doing paid work in an organisation outside the University, usually in an industrial or commercial environment, applying and enhancing the skills and techniques they have developed and studied in the earlier stages of their MSc programme.

The work they do is entirely under the direction of their industrial supervisor, but support is provided by the SMSAS Placement Officer or a member of the academic team. This support includes ensuring that the work they are being expected to do is such that they can meet the learning outcomes of the module.

Participation in this module is dependent on students obtaining an appropriate placement, for which support and guidance is provided through the School in the year leading up to the placement. It is also dependent on students completing the taught component of their studies. The University does not guarantee that every student will find a placement.

Students who do not obtain a placement will be required to transfer to the appropriate programme without an Industrial Placement.

Find out more about MA991

Optional modules may include

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.

Find out more about MA501

Stationary Time Series: Stationarity, autocovariance and autocorrelation functions, partial autocorrelation functions, ARMA processes.

ARIMA Model Building and Testing: estimation, Box-Jenkins, criteria for choosing between models, diagnostic tests for residuals of a time series after estimation.

Forecasting: Holt-Winters, 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: transfer function models, vector autoregressive moving average (VARM(p,q)) models, impulse responses.

Spectral Analysis: spectral distribution and density functions, linear filters, estimation in the frequency domain, periodogram.

Simulation: generation of pseudo-random numbers, random variate generation by the inverse transform, acceptance rejection. Normal random variate generation: design issues and sensitivity analysis.

Find out more about MA639

The curriculum covers parts of the professional curriculum of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries syllabus CS1, and it introduces (and revises for some students) the essentials of probability and classical (frequentist) statistical inference.

Probability: review of elementary probability, concept of random variable, discrete and continuous probability distributions, cumulative distribution function, expectation and variance, joint distributions, marginal and conditional distributions, generating functions and transformation of random variables.

Statistics: sampling distributions, point estimation, method of moment and maximum likelihood estimation, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, association between variables and linear regression.

Find out more about MA729

The aim of this module is to provide a grounding in the principles of modelling as applied to actuarial work – focusing particularly on deterministic models which can be used to model and value cashflows which are dependent on death, survival, or other uncertain risks. The module will include coverage of equations of value and its applications, single decrement models, multiple decrement and multiple life models. This module will cover a number of syllabus items set out in Subject CM1 – Actuarial Mathematics published by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Find out more about MA735

The aim of this module is to provide a grounding in the principles of modelling as applied to financial mathematics – focusing particularly on deterministic models which can be used to model and value known cashflows.

This module will cover a number of syllabus items set out in Subject CM1 – Actuarial Mathematics published by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Find out more about MA7509

The aim of this module is to introduce students to core economic principles and how these could be used in a business environment to understand economic behaviour and aid decision making, and to provide a coherent coverage of economic concepts and principles. Indicative topics covered by the module include the working of competitive markets, market price and output determination, decisions made by consumers on allocating their budget and by producers on price and output, and different types of market structures and the implication of each for social welfare, the working of the economic system, governments' macroeconomic objectives, unemployment, inflation, economic growth, international trade and financial systems and financial crises.

This module will cover a number of syllabus items set out in Subject CB2 – Business Economics published by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Find out more about MA819

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 http://www.kent.ac.uk/casri/Accreditation/index.html for further details.

Find out more about MA825

This module provides an introduction to the principles of corporate finance and financial reporting. 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, 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.

This module will cover a number of syllabus items set out in Subject CB1 – Business Finance published by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

This is a dynamic syllabus, changing regularly to reflect current practice.

Find out more about MA826

The aim of this module is to provide a grounding in the principles of modelling as applied to actuarial work – focusing particularly on stochastic asset liability models. These skills are also required to communicate with other financial professionals and to critically evaluate modern financial theories.

Indicative topics covered by the module include theories of financial market behaviour, measures of investment risk, stochastic investment return models, asset valuations, and liability valuations.

The additional 4 contact hours for level 7 students will be devoted to applications of the principles of financial economics and asset and liability modelling to complex financial instruments.

This module will cover a number of syllabus items set out in Subject CM2 – Actuarial Mathematics published by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Find out more about MA835

Introduction: Principles and examples of stochastic modelling, types of stochastic process, Markov property and Markov processes, short-term and long-run properties. Applications in various research areas.

Random walks: The simple random walk. Walk with two absorbing barriers. First–step decomposition technique. Probabilities of absorption. Duration of walk. Application of results to other simple random walks. General random walks. Applications.

Discrete time Markov chains: n–step transition probabilities. Chapman-Kolmogorov equations. Classification of states. Equilibrium and stationary distribution. Mean recurrence times. Simple estimation of transition probabilities. Time inhomogeneous chains. Elementary renewal theory. Simulations. Applications.

Continuous time Markov chains: Transition probability functions. Generator matrix. Kolmogorov forward and backward equations. Poisson process. Birth and death processes. Time inhomogeneous chains. Renewal processes. Applications.

Queues and branching processes: Properties of queues - arrivals, service time, length of the queue, waiting times, busy periods. The single-server queue and its stationary behaviour. Queues with several servers. Branching processes. Applications.

In addition, level 7 students will study more complex queuing systems and continuous-time branching processes.

Find out more about MA836

The aim of this module is to provide a grounding in the principles of modelling as applied to actuarial work – focusing particularly on the valuation of financial derivatives. These skills are also required to communicate with other financial professionals and to critically evaluate modern financial theories.

Indicative topics covered by the module include theories of stochastic investment return models and option theory.

The additional 4 contact hours for level 7 students will be devoted to applications of the principles of option pricing techniques, valuation methods and hedging techniques for complex financial derivative concepts.

This module will cover a number of syllabus items set out in Subject CM2 – Actuarial Mathematics published by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Find out more about MA837

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.

Find out more about MA840

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 examiners appointed by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, will receive exemptions. 

If you fail to achieve a suitable overall standard, you might still be awarded individual subject exemptions.

Continuation to Industrial Placement

The taught component, project and work placement constitute a single stage. However, commencement of the placement is conditional on satisfactory progress in the taught component, as determined at the interim examination board in June.  A student with resits amounting to more than 30 credits following the August exam will normally be required to retrieve the credit before beginning a placement.

To be eligible for the award of an MSc with an Industrial Placement, students must meet the requirements for the award of the MSc without a placement and pass both of the placement modules.

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 Principles 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 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 will 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 using specialised knowledge
  • the ability to demonstrate advanced skills in solving problems in complex situations by various appropriate methods.

Subject-specific skills

You will gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the specific mathematical and statistical techniques used in actuarial science, and in their application to solving actuarial problems
  • the specific information technology and software used in actuarial science
  • understanding the practical applications of programme material in insurance and finance.

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)
  • effective communication skills 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 effective modes of working
  • study skills needed for advancing knowledge and understanding, for developing new skills and for continuing professional development
  • practical experience of the application in a working environment of knowledge and skills gained through academic study.

Fees

The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home full-time £11100
  • EU full-time £12600
  • International full-time £16800

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

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.

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

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:

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2021, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.

Complete University Guide Research Intensity

Independent rankings

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.

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

Careers

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 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.  

Apply now

Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

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Admissions enquiries

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