Key information

Mode of delivery
Delivery type
Full-time, Part-time
Start date
2 years


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You've completed a degree that shows you think logically (eg mathematics). But now you want an excellent career with an excellent salary and a great work life balance. Our MSc in Actuarial Science and Management gets you there in only 2 years.

Actuaries are professionals with expertise in risk management and this is usually applied in the world of insurance. Our MSc in Actuarial Science and Management takes you through the required exams almost to the point of qualification with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in the UK.

The degree is two years long and covers mathematical subjects in the first year and application of those mathematical subjects in the second year.

In addition, in the second year it is also possible to take courses in machine learning.

Actuaries work in the areas life insurance, general insurance, pensions, investment and banking mostly, but also more widely in fund management companies, hedge funds, consultancies, software vendors and regulatory authorities.

The career is fun in that you are regularly applying your mathematical skills to solve problems and predict the future.

Salaries are typically high (a newly qualified actuary in the UK usually earns between £50,000 and £60,000 each year) and the work-life balance is excellent.

Tailored for success as an Actuary

This programme has been uniquely designed to offer a blend of technical mastery, business acumen, and communication skills essential for a successful actuarial career.

Developed in collaboration with industry leaders, it ensures the acquisition of sought-after skills, setting you apart in interviews and excelling in real-world tasks.

Gain a competitive edge with an intensified focus on software tools like Excel and R, and experience enriched learning through 'value-added' components, emphasizing teamwork and communication.


The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in the UK sets exam-based entry requirements in order to qualify as a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and so become an actuarial professional.

The MSc in Actuarial Science and Management is fully accredited with the IFoA which means that the subjects you study on our program lead to exemptions from the corresponding subjects with the IFoA.

In year one of the programme you study courses that correspond with exemptions from IFoA subject codes: CB1, CB2, CM1, CM2, CS1 and CS2.

In year two of the programme you study your choice of courses that correspond with exemptions from IFoA subject codes: CP1, CP2, CP3, SP2, SP4, SP5, SP6 and SP9.  Typically students choose courses linking to subjects CP1, CP2 and CP3 and also three of the "SP" subjects.  (However, only two "SP" subjects are actually required by the IFoA.)

Alternatively, in the second year, one of the "SP" subjects can be replaced by courses in Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance.  Although not an IFoA exemption subject, machine learning is being increasingly applied by actuaries and is a growth area in the future.

Courses linked to IFoA subject code SP9 also gain you the internationally recognised Certified Enterprise Risk Actuary (CERA) qualification.

Why Study at Heriot-Watt?

Heriot-Watt University was the first in the UK to offer a degree in actuarial science.  We have been leading the way in the UK ever since and built a wonderful teaching team of world renowned academics and experienced industry professionals.  Each year we enable between 100 and 200 students to gain exemptions from actuarial subjects.  We also understand that you need to be ready for the business world and able to interview well.  We develop these softer skills too, and develop your ethics, so you will become an excellent capable professional.

Heriot-Watt University is the only Centre of Actuarial Excellence (as recognised by the society of actuaries (SOA) – North America) in Europe.

We excel in student surveys (this mostly relates to teaching quality) and our research output is world class. 

Why choose Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is a wonderful city close to the sea in Scotland in the United Kingdom.  Heriot-Watt Edinburgh campus is established just to the west of the city in a beautiful green space.  Transport links into the city centre are regular and travel by bus takes thirty minutes – and so you can choose the mix of city and campus life that you like best. 

Edinburgh is the financial heart of Scotland and many such companies are based there.  It is also a centre of arts and culture, with the famous Edinburgh International Festival taking place in August each year.

It is built on seven hills, and views regularly emerge and surprise as you walk the cobbled streets in the old town, or explore the beautiful sandstone buildings in the new town.  Edinburgh Castle rises high in the centre of Edinburgh and is a big attraction for tourists.

Access to all other cities in the UK is straightforward, with fast travel to London for instance taking only 4 hours.

September 2024 entry

The deadline for applications from UK students is 30 August 2024. For EU and overseas applicants, we guarantee to consider applications submitted by 2 August 2024.


Course content

Year 1

In the first year the main course teaching takes place in two semesters. Students must take three compulsory courses: Financial Mathematics Fundamentals,  Financial Mathematics of Life Contingencies, and Actuarial Applications. All other courses are optional. In order to be eligible for exemptions from all of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries subjects CM1, CM2, CS1, CS2, CB1 and CB2, nine courses must be taken in total. However, it is possible to reduce your workload in the first year by taking eight courses. Students also have the option to choose a tenth, non-exemption, course to broaden their actuarial education.

Progression to the second year of the degree requires an average mark of 60% over all examinations taken at the first attempt, with a grade C required in each of the mandatory courses.

Semester 1

Mandatory courses
  • Financial Mathematics Fundamentals
  • Actuarial Applications
  • Financial Mathematics of Life Contingencies
Optional courses
  • Economics
  • Statistical Methods

Semester 2

Optional courses
  • Financial Economics for Actuarial Science
  • Data Analytics and Time Series Analysis
  • Markov Processes and Survival Modelling
  • Finance and Financial Reporting
  • Data Science Life Cycle
  • Life Office Practice
  • Climate Change and Sustainability
  • Stochastic Networks

Year 2

In the second year the main course teaching also takes places in the first and second semesters. Students take (strictly) four courses in each of these semesters and courses are 'paired'. Each pair is linked to an exemption from one of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries' exemption subjects, except for the 'Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance' pair (which covers skills currently outside the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries syllabus).

Students must take courses associated with exemption subject 'CP1', and then choose courses in order to secure exemption from two 'SP' subjects and obtain machine learning skills, or secure exemption from three 'SP' subjects.

The courses, and the corresponding actuarial exemption subject they are linked to (where applicable) are as follows.

Semester 1

Mandatory courses
  • Actuarial Risk Management 1 (CP1)
Optional courses
  • Life Insurance 1 (SP2)
  • Pensions A (SP4)
  • Financial Markets (SP5)
  • Derivative Markets and Pricing (SP6)
  • Quantitative Risk Analysis (SP9)
  • Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance 1

Semester 2

Mandatory courses
  • Actuarial Risk Management 2 (CP1)
Optional courses
  • Life Insurance 2 (SP2)
  • Pensions B (SP4)
  • Finance and Investment (SP5)
  • Advanced Derivative Pricing (SP6)
  • Risk Management: Techniques and Tools (SP9)
  • Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance 2

In semester 3 students undertake two actuarial/business related case studies or a single longer project with a supervisor from a company in the UK financial industry. The submitted work, and exams that take place in semester 3, are both linked to exemptions from Institute and Faculty of Actuaries subjects CP2 and CP3.

Go Global

Some of our Postgraduate Taught Masters Programmes are eligible for Inter-Campus Transfer. Please contact for further information.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Year 1

Tuition fees
Status [footnote 1] Full-time Part-time
UK 21520 10760
Overseas [footnote 2] 21520 10760

Year 2

Tuition fees
Status [footnote 1] Full-time Part-time
UK 9152 4576
Overseas [footnote 2] 19056 9528


  1. Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.
  2. Overseas includes applications from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK. Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Additional fee information

Please note that fees are payable for each year of this two year MSc.

Scholarships for 2024/25

Introducing an exciting lineup of new scholarships for the academic year 2024/25:

International Actuarial Impact Award: a £5,000 fee reduction for all international students only.

UK Actuaries of the Future Award:  a 50% fee reduction for all UK students.

The scholarships are automatically awarded once you have applied for the course and will be part of the offer letter sent to you if your application is successful.

New scholarships

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.

Entry requirements


The programme is primarily intended for graduates with a strong mathematical/logical background. Our normal minimum entry requirement is the equivalent of a UK 2.1 degree in mathematics or statistics, or a related discipline with a high mathematics or statistics content (such as economics or physics for instance).

The degree is challenging and it is necessary to be able to work hard and to have a strong drive to succeed.

English language requirements

Important: If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we'll need to see evidence of your English language ability.

The minimum requirement for English language is IELTS 6.5, we also accept TOEFL (scores of 79 and higher).

We also offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master's programme:

  • 20 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with minimum of 5.0 in writing and no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.5)

Why Heriot-Watt?

Center of Actuarial Excellence

We are recognised as a Center of Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries (SOA), North America. We are the only Center of Actuarial Excellence in Europe and one of only 30 other schools worldwide with this designation.

Actuarial Research Centre (ARC)

We host the Actuarial Research Centre (ARC) - a ground breaking virtual network of actuarial researchers and partner organisations from around the world which delivers innovative research on behalf of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA).

Maths Gym

Maths Gym is a cross-campus initiative which aims to support all Heriot-Watt students, across all our campuses, to strengthen their mathematical and statistical skills and to boost their mathematical confidence.

Clubs and activities

At Heriot-Watt we have an extensive programme of over 90 sports clubs and societies to get involved in. You can try as many as you like or start one of your own!

Edinburgh campus accommodation

Living on our beautiful Edinburgh campus is a great way to meet others from all over the world. Our student accommodation is within easy reach of the teaching buildings, sports facilities, catering venues and the Student Union

Edinburgh Campus facilities

At Heriot-Watt University, we offer a wide range of services to help you deal with all aspects of your life with us, whether these be academic, personal, technical, financial or just plain fun!

Health and wellbeing

Student Wellbeing Services aim to provide a range of support, guidance, activities and advice to help students to be their best, and get the most from their university experience. From counselling to coaching we'll sure you are fully supported.

Heriot-Watt Student Union

There's more to university life than simply getting your degree, and Heriot-Watt University Student Union is all about helping you to have the best possible experience while you study here.

Living in Edinburgh

Historic and beautiful, a cultural capital that fuels the senses whether you love the arts or nature, nightlife or study life, Edinburgh is stimulating and inspirational and never, ever boring.

Sport facilities

Oriam, Scotland Sports Performance Centre offers state-of-the-art sports facilities, for all levels of sport and ability

Your career

Employers around the world actively seek out our graduates because they are work-ready. All our degrees are career-focused and relevant to the needs of industry. Around 95% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating.

We are accredited by the following organisations

At Heriot-Watt University we develop degrees that are relevant for the world of work. We work with Professional bodies and Institutes to gain appropriate Accreditations and Professional Memberships for your industry. Find out below how this degree aligns to industry.

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