Key information

Mode of delivery
Delivery type
Full-time, Part-time
Start date
1 year


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You've completed a degree that shows you think logically (eg mathematics). But now you want an exciting career with an excellent salary and a great work life balance. Get there fast with our MSc in Actuarial Science.

Actuaries are members of a prestigious profession, known for its challenging entry requirements and impactful work. Our MSc in Actuarial Science provides you with a fast track into the profession by providing up to six exemptions from the exams you must pass to become a fully qualified actuary.

Actuaries are experts in risk management. Most actuaries work in the areas of life insurance, general insurance, pensions, and investment, but also more widely in fund management companies, sustainability, banking, hedge funds, consultancies, software developers and regulatory authorities. As experts in data science, actuaries are increasingly in demand across the world.

The actuarial career is also fun because you can apply your mathematical skills to solve problems and plan for the future.

Salaries are typically high and the work-life balance can be excellent. A newly qualified actuary in the UK usually earns between £50,000 and £60,000 each year. Salaries increase to significantly higher levels in the years after qualification.

Our MSc in Actuarial Science takes you through the first six exams with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in the UK and so accelerates your journey to becoming an actuarial professional. The exams are mathematical in nature and develop your skills in applying statistical and financial models to plan for the future.

Our MSc programme is distinguished by our University's 50+ years at the heart of the actuarial profession, by being delivered by qualified actuaries with industry experience along with high-flying actuarial researchers, by our high student satisfaction and by our location in Edinburgh, one of the world's most beautiful cities.

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.

Heriot-Watt University

Heriot-Watt University was the first in the UK to offer a degree in actuarial science (back in 1972). 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, so you will become a rounded professional.

Heriot-Watt is the first university in Europe to be awarded the Centre of Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) of North America.

We score excellently in student surveys of teaching quality and our research output is world class.

Student Actuarial Society

Heriot-Watt has a very active Students' Actuarial Society which won several awards at a recent Heriot-Watt "Oscars" ceremony. This society is completely managed, enthusiastically and professionally, by our students.

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

The main course teaching takes place in two semesters.  All courses are optional so that students who have passed some actuarial exams do not need to repeat material.

In order to be eligible for exemptions from all of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) subjects CM1, CM2, CS1, CS2, CB1 and CB2, nine optional courses must be taken.  However, it is possible to reduce your workload by taking only eight of these options. Students also have the option to choose a tenth, non-exemption, course to broaden their actuarial education.

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. It is possible to study part-time (over a period longer than 1 year) but this option is only available to those students who don't need a visa to study in the UK

Semester 1

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

Semester 2

  • Finance and Financial Reporting
  • Financial Economics for Actuarial Science
  • Markov Processes and Survival Modelling
  • Data Analytics and Time Series Analysis
  • Life Office Practice
  • Stochastic Networks
  • Climate Change and Sustainability
  • Risk Management: Techniques and Tools
  • Data Science Life Cycle

Semester 3

  • Dissertation

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

Tuition fees
Status [footnote 1] Full-time Part-time
UK 27200 13600
Overseas [footnote 2] 27200 13600


  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

Contact us for the fee for the Diploma in Actuarial Science. This option is available only to UK and EU students

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 numerate 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).

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 offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters 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)


Career prospects and salaries are excellent for graduates of our specialist actuarial science programmes – 93% of recent graduates have secured employment or gone onto further study within six months of graduating. Of those employed, 96% are in professional-level jobs.

Recent students have gone on to work for industry-leading organisations including Standard Life Aberdeen, Lloyds Banking Group, Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, Prudential, Royal London and many more.

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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