Postgraduate Research Course

PhD Actuarial Science

PhD Actuarial Science

Overview

The details
Actuarial Science
October 2022
Full-time
5 years
Colchester Campus

An Integrated PhD provides a route into research study if you do not have a Masters degree, or have very little research training. It enables you to spend your first year completing a Masters-level qualification, followed by a full-time PhD studied over 3-4 years. We also offer a ‘standard’ PhD in this subject which can be studied either full-time (3-4 years) or part-time (6-7 years).

Actuaries provide assessments of financial security systems, with a focus on their complexity, their mathematics, and their mechanisms. Actuaries quantify the probability and manage the risk of future events in areas such as insurance, healthcare, pensions, investment, and banking and also in non-financial areas.

The first year of our Integrated PhD Actuarial Science is based on the syllabus of the majority of the Core Technical subjects of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, so you’ll cover Core Technical subjects as part of your course (CT2 or CT3, depending on the optional module selected, CT4, CT5, CT6, and CT8). This focus on up-to-date research findings in actuarial methodologies and actuarial applications means that you gain a solid training in actuarial modelling and actuarial analysis.

In your second year you move into the PhD element of the course. We have staff members available to act as supervisors across a number of areas such as; survival analysis, forensic economics, risk management, Islamic finance and takaful, asset-liability management for pension funds, predictability of financial time series, and performance evaluation of funds.

All University of Essex research students have access to our innovative and unique scheme, Proficio. Postgraduate research students are automatically enrolled on Proficio, which provides a variety of training courses, and a fund of up to £2,500 per student for conference attendance and relevant external training courses.

Why we're great.
  • Work alongside expert academics who are committed to research as well as practicing actuaries.
  • In your first year, study the majority of the Core Technical subjects of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.
  • Our Department of Mathematical Sciences has an international reputation in many areas like such as semi-group theory, optimisation, probability, applied statistics, bioinformatics and mathematical biology.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

As well as being world-class academics, many of our academics have won research awards and grants from some of the largest actuarial society’s worldwide, national or regional awards for lecturing, and many of them are qualified and accredited teachers.

Teaching on our course are expert academics and practising actuaries. The key departmental contacts for our MSc Actuarial Science are Dr Junlei Hu, Dr Haslifah Hashim, Dr Spyridon Vrontos, and Dr Jackie Wong.

  • Dr Hu specialises in actuarial mathematics, actuarial modelling, data visualisation, life and general insurance, optimal (re)insurance, risk management and robust optimisation. Her recent research interests focus on actuarial modelling with machine learning.
  • 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.
  • Dr Wong specialises in mortality modelling and forecasting, uncertainty quantification, survival analysis, model comparison, Bayesian hierarchical modelling and computations.

Our staff are strongly committed to research and teaching. They have published several well-regarded text books and are world leaders in their individual specialisms, with their papers appearing in learned journals such as: Journal of the Operational Research Society, The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Journal of Islamic Accounting and Business Research, Scandinavian Actuarial Journal, ASTIN Bulletin, North American Actuarial Journal, and Journal of Banking & Finance.

Specialist facilities

  • The Department of Mathematical Sciences is based in the University’s state-of-the-art STEM Centre
  • 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
  • Research students have a dedicated workspace and PCs, with access to software such as MATLAB, LaTeX and R
  • 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

Your future

It has been 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 (actuaries are in the top ten jobs for 2016, careercast.com), 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.

Many of our former PhD students have gone on to work as academics in prominent institutions across the world, such as the University of Cambridge, University of Nottingham and many other international universities. Some have also remained at the University of Essex, working as postdoctoral research fellows, research impact officers, or lecturers.

Other graduates have joined organisations like the Met Office, the Ministry of Defence, and companies based in the City of London. There is a high demand for those with a numerate background in all sectors of the economy, so our graduates are sought after in the UK and abroad.

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

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A good honours degree in one of the following subjects: Mathematics, Actuarial Science, Statistics, Operational Research, Computer Science, Finance, Economics, Business Engineering.

Our four year integrated PhD, allows you to spend your first year studying at Masters level in order to develop the necessary knowledge and skills and to start your independent research in year two.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language , we require IELTS 6.0, or equivalent with a minimum of 5.5 in all other components.

Structure

Course structure

Most of our taught courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

The research element of your degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Mathematics - Research
(30 CREDITS)

This module is for PhD students who are completing the research portions of their theses.

View Mathematics - Research on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 01: CORE

Dissertation
(60 CREDITS)

This is a dissertation module for MSc students. Student will be provided with a list of dissertation titles or your own, provided a member of staff agrees it is of suitable standard and is able to supervise it.

View Dissertation on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Research Methods
(15 CREDITS)

Looking to build your research capabilities? This module will equip you with the principal research tools for your postgraduate course in Mathematical Sciences, including practice in the mathematical word-processing language LaTeX.

View Research Methods on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Contingencies I
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Contingencies I on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Statistical Methods
(15 CREDITS)

This module will enable you to expand your knowledge on multiple statistical methods. You will learn the concepts of decision theory and how to apply them, have the chance to explore “Monte Carlo” simulation, and develop an understanding of Bayesian inference, and the basic concepts of a generalised linear model.

View Statistical Methods on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY

Stochastic Processes
(15 CREDITS)

Ever considered becoming an Actuary? This module covers the required material for the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries CT4 and CT6 syllabus. It explores the stochastic process and principles of actuarial modelling alongside time series models and analysis.

View Stochastic Processes on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 06: COMPULSORY

Financial Derivatives
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Financial Derivatives on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 07: COMPULSORY

Survival Analysis
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Survival Analysis on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 08: COMPULSORY

Mathematics of Portfolios
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Mathematics of Portfolios on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 09: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

MA211-7-SP or MA200-7-AU or MA312-7-SP or MA307-7-AU
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 10: COMPULSORY

Mathematics Careers and Employability
(0 CREDITS)

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.

View Mathematics Careers and Employability on our Module Directory

Teaching

  • Core components can be combined with optional modules, to enable you to gain either in-depth specialisation or a breadth of understanding
  • Learn to use LATEX to produce a document as close as possible to what professional mathematicians produce in terms of organisation, layout and type-setting
  • Our postgraduates are encouraged to attend conferences and seminars

Assessment

  • Our taught modules are assessed on the results of your written examinations, together with continual assessments of your practical work and coursework

Dissertation

A PhD (taking at least three years) typically involves wide reading round the subject area in your first year, then gradually developing original results over your second and third years, before writing them up in a coherent fashion. The resulting thesis is expected to make a significant contribution to knowledge.

Your PhD is awarded after your successful defence of your thesis in an oral examination (viva), in which you are interviewed about your research by two examiners, at least one of whom is from outside Essex.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£5,630

International fee

£17,050

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

We hold open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, graduate employability, student support and more
  • talk to our Fees and Funding team about scholarship opportunities
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events 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.

2021 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, November 13, 2021

Applying

You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we’ll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.

We aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

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.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.


Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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

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