Actuarial science uses mathematics and statistics to solve financial problems in the fields of insurance, investment, pensions and risk management. Most graduates of City’s Actuarial Science programme work in actuarial fields and complete the actuarial professional examinations. A high proportion of UK actuaries work for insurance companies or consultancies, dealing with pensions and all types of insurance and investments. As an actuary, you might also work in government service, industry, a university or in finance. With many actuaries becoming general managers or directors, actuarial work is one of the highest-paid professions in the UK.
Success in the field involves a high degree of proficiency in mathematics, statistics, economics and computing, as well as knowledge of specialist actuarial subjects and good communication and IT skills. These abilities, developed during the programme, also provide an excellent background for careers in investment management, statistics, banking and other financial professions. You will also be well prepared to undertake academic research or to pursue a higher degree.
The programme is the longest-established actuarial science degree in England, having started in 1974. Close links between staff and the nearby Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and the Royal Statistical Society enhance the relevance and vitality of the programme. The Faculty of Actuarial Science and Statistics has won the Worshipful Company of Actuaries Award of Honour, in recognition of its special contribution to the profession.
The programme comprises five main areas of study: actuarial science, statistics, mathematics, economics and finance. The courses include all the material examined by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in their core technical subjects, making it possible to earn exemption from each of these professional subjects. In addition, some final-year options provide an introduction to subjects 301-305, thereby giving you a head start in your professional studies after graduation.
Key subjects are financial and investment mathematics, insurance mathematics, financial economics and probabilistic modelling in insurance. Options increase as you progress through the programme. Most of your final-year studies will comprise subjects chosen from an extensive list of options. A foreign language course is also an option in your second or final year. A member of staff will offer guidance when you select your options and supervision when you undertake your final-year project.
Before your final year, you may spend a year studying at a Canadian, Italian or Spanish university or working on a paid business placement. Your final-year project topic will then relate to your experiences. A year of study at an overseas university is designed to broaden your experience and understanding of different approaches to actuarial science. A year on a business placement gives you experience of working in the actuarial department of an insurance company or consultancy. It helps to develop your understanding of the links between theory and practical applications. A number of employers offer placements, and these are awarded competitively during the second year of the programme. A placement is not guaranteed, and any students who do not secure placements are transferred to the three-year programme.
Teaching and assessment
Teaching is primarily through lectures and tutorials, supplemented by computer laboratory sessions, seminars and personal study. All staff hold consultation hours to help students individually throughout the programme.
Assessment is based on examinations, coursework and the final-year project. To develop teamwork skills, some modules also require students to complete a group project. All three years of study count towards the final degree classification in the ratio of 1:3:6, with approximately 80 per cent based on examination results. A year abroad or in a business placement will not count towards your final classification but will be endorsed on your degree certificate.