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BSc Actuarial Science

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  • You have access to our excellent dedicated computing facilities that provide real-world experience.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: N323
Duration: 3 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Mathematical Sciences
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: N324
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Mathematical Sciences
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: N233
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Mathematical Sciences
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666
Email admit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

Actuarial science teaches you the art of turning risks into opportunities. Actuaries provide assessments of financial security systems, with a focus on their complexity, their mathematics, and their mechanisms. You benefit from an excellent starting salary, with graduates earning upwards of £30,000 on average.

Our BA Actuarial Science encourages you to delve into your passions for mathematics and practical problem-solving. Our attractive blend of solid mathematics, an understanding of real-world financial issues, and computing skills provide you with the core skills essential for entering the actuarial profession. You learn the theory and methods used by professional actuaries; on how to apply mathematical and statistical skills to minimise financial risk when the stakes are high, in areas such as commerce, government, insurance and finance.

Study topics including:

  • Mathematical finance
  • Financial reporting
  • Contingencies, risk management and survival analysis
  • Pure and applied mathematics
  • Statistics

Professional actuaries in the insurance industry, including influential businesses AXA and Buck Consultants, contribute to our employability module and also host students at their offices to show them typical challenges that actuaries face.

As part of our Department of Mathematical Sciences, you’re a member of an inclusive and approachable research community which allows you to explore topics in pure, high-level mathematics and applied mathematics.

Professional accreditation

Our course currently gives you exemption from all eight of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) professional examinations (CT1, CT2, CT3, CT4, CT5, CT6, CT7 and CT8) subject to your performance on certain modules.

The associated exemptions from the IFoA's professional examinations can significantly reduce the time and cost needed to pursue a career as an actuary.

You also gain credits towards qualifying for accreditation with the Chartered Insurance Institute, the world’s largest professional body for insurance, risk and financial services.

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you extending your education through offering you an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year studying abroad or employed on a placement, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. Popular destinations include:

  • California State University (Chico, USA)
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City, USA)

Placement year

Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement year with an external organisation, where you learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.

Our expert staff

As well as being world-class academics, our staff are award-winning teachers. Many of our academics have won national or regional awards for lecturing, and many of them are qualified and accredited teachers – something which is very rare at a university.

Teaching on our course are expert academics and practising actuaries. The key departmental staff for our BA actuarial science are Keith Bannister, Dr Haslifah Hashim, and Dr Spyridon Vrontos.

Keith Bannister is a qualified actuary, and a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and Faculty of Actuaries; he lectures part-time in Actuarial Science. Dr Hashim specialises in life and general insurance, pensions, financial mathematics, enterprise risk management, forensic economics, and Islamic finance and takaful.

Dr Vrontos specialises in actuarial mathematics and modelling, asset-liability management and performance measurement for pension funds, hedge funds and mutual funds, risk management and solvency, and risk theory.

Specialist facilities

  • Unique to Essex is our renowned Maths Support Centre, which offers help to students, staff and local businesses on a range of mathematical problems. Throughout term-time, we can chat through mathematical problems either on a one-to-one or small group basis
  • We have our own computer labs for the exclusive use of students in the Department of Mathematical Sciences – in addition to your core maths modules, you gain computing knowledge of software including Matlab and Maple
  • We host regular events and seminars throughout the year
  • Our students run a lively Mathematics Society, an active and social group where you can explore your interest in your subject with other students

Your future

As a new course, we expect our graduates of BSc Actuarial Science to become actuaries in a range of industries. It is predicted by the US Department of Labor that the employment of actuaries is expected to grow faster than any other occupation, making it a great prospect for a graduate job.

Aside from a rewarding career as an actuary, clear thinkers are required in every profession, so the successful mathematician has an extensive choice of potential careers. The Council for Mathematical Sciences offers further information on careers in mathematics.

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

Can you perform simple operations on matrices? How do you solve systems of linear equations using row operations? Can you calculate the determinant and inverse of a matrix? Understand the basics of linear algebra, with an emphasis on vectors and matrices.

How do you apply the addition rule of probability? Or construct appropriate diagrams to illustrate data sets? Learn the basics of probability (combinatorial analysis and axioms of probability), conditional probability and independence, and probability distributions. Understand how to handle data using descriptive statistics and gain experience of R software packages.

How can interest rates be expressed in terms of different time periods? How do you apply a generalized cash flow model to analyse financial transactions? What stochastic models can be used for investment returns? Build your understanding of financial mathematics and its simple applications.

How do consumers make decisions? Or firms conduct different market strategies? What impact does government policy have on inflation? Or unemployment? Develop your knowledge of economics in relation to a range of contemporary issues. Learn how to apply both micro and macroeconomic principles to the analysis of such problems.

What skills do you need to succeed during your studies? And what about after university? How will you realise your career goals? Develop your transferable skills and experiences to create your personal profile. Reflect on and plan your ongoing personal development, with guidance from your personal advisor within the department.

Year 2

Can you recognise and manipulate simple sequences and series? Are you able to calculate Taylor series expansions? Or radii of convergence in power series? Can you change the order of integration in repeated integrals? Study a range of core mathematical techniques that have broad applicability.

What instruments are used by companies to raise finance and manage financial risk? What is the role of financial institutions operating in financial markets? What are the techniques of financial accounting? How do you use spreadsheets in financial analysis? Examine and develop the concepts and elements of corporate finance.

Explore how financial theory can aid financial decision-making in corporations. You discover how to apply the value maximization principle to corporate decisions, such as investment decision, borrowing decisions, and dividend decisions.

What are the principles of actuarial modelling? And what are survival models? Examine how calculations in clinical trials, pensions, and life and health insurance require reliable estimates of transition intensities/survival rates. Learn how to estimate these intensities. Build your understanding of estimation procedures for lifetime distributions.

How do you define simple assurance contracts? What practical methods are required to evaluate expected values from a contract? How can you calculate gross premiums and reserves of assurance and reserves? Understand the mathematical techniques that can calculate, model and value cashflows dependent on death, survival or other uncertain risks.

What tools can you use for macroeconomic analysis? And how can these then be applied to macro-policy issues? Learn how to build alternative macroeconomic models and apply analytical reasoning. Examine real-life macroeconomic questions, on topics such as government budgets or wage-price flexibility, and critically evaluate macroeconomic policies.

What skills do you need to succeed during your studies? And what about after university? How will you realise your career goals? Develop your transferable skills and experiences to create your personal profile. Reflect on and plan your ongoing personal development, with guidance from your personal advisor within the department.

Final year

What methods are available to model cashflows that are contingent on competing risk? What techniques for discounted emerging costs can be used in pricing, reserving and assessing profitability? Study the methods and techniques used in pricing and evaluating insurance and pension products, and insurance companies.

How do consumers behave in a competitive market? And what about producers? How do various imperfections affect the outcome of decentralised markets? Study the fundamental concepts and methods in microeconomics. Understand the tools and methods of analysis for economic reasoning, and develop your critical approach to economic issues and policies.

How do you formulate financial decision problems mathematically? And how do you identify an appropriate method of solution? Understand the basic models and mathematical methods underlying modern portfolio management. Assess the limitations of these models and learn to correctly interpret your results from calculations.

In this module you study the derivative market, in particular, futures and options markets. You explore various futures markets including the stock index, FX, commodities and interest rate contracts, how they are priced and hedged, and different trading strategies; as well as considering different option positions, the relationship between call and put option prices, and trading strategies.

Why are arbitrage arguments important in modern finance? How can a binomial model evaluate derivatives? What are the main models for interest rates? Understand the mathematical techniques underlying the modelling of derivative pricing. Acquire skills in the development of pricing and risk management. Explore stochastic methods and credit risk.

What skills do you need to succeed during your studies? And what about after university? How will you realise your career goals? Develop your transferable skills and experiences to create your personal profile. Reflect on and plan your ongoing personal development, with guidance from your personal advisor within the department.

Placement

On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Teaching

  • Teaching mainly takes the form of lectures – you study roughly two 50-minute lectures and one 50-minute class per week, per module
  • Take a mathematics careers and employability module, where you compile a portfolio of skills and experience

Assessment

  • Your final mark is a weighted combination of marks gained on coursework (eg homework problem sheets or tests) and your summer examinations
  • Your first year of study does not count towards your final degree class
  • Third-year students have the opportunity to complete a full-year or one-term project

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

A-levels: AAB, including A in Mathematics or ABB, including B in Further Mathematics
Please note we are unable to accept A-level Use of Mathematics in place of A-level Mathematics

IB: 33 points, including Higher Level Mathematics grade 6. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Please note that Maths in the IB is not required if you have already achieved GCSE Maths at grade C or above.

Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email admit@essex.ac.uk for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)

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.

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.

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Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

Visit days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our visit days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your visit day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email visit@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

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Although great care is taken in compiling our course details, they are intended for the general guidance of prospective students only. The University reserves the right to make 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, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University.

The full procedures, rules and regulations of the University are set out in the Charter, Statues and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.