The course

Course type
Entry date


Center of Actuarial Excellence

Heriot-Watt University is 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. With roots dating back to 1889, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) is the world's largest actuarial professional organisation with more than 28,000 actuaries as members.


Data science today is becoming increasingly important within the actuarial field, and Heriot-Watt has developed this unique new programme to meet this growing actuarial demand.

Actuarial data science combines advanced statistical modelling and analysis with modern computational techniques in order to analyse potentially large datasets arising in insurance and finance. These analyses have the ability to improve forecasts and enhance decision making in an uncertain environment where rapid advancements in technology and data availability are transforming fields of actuarial work. Additionally, they are building synergies with new sectors such as medical and healthcare. This is an area of science and technology that is attracting significant interest and that will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, as more and more industries adopt data-driven and data-centric approaches.

This programme will provide students with intensive and high-quality education in a postgraduate context in the main areas of data science related to actuarial applications, including machine-learning techniques, supervised and unsupervised learning, clustering methods, feature extraction, generalised linear and Bayesian models, ensemble methods, and practical experience of applying these to actuarial data modelling problems.

Students graduating from the MSc will have excellent employment prospects that are not restricted to any one narrow sector of financial services. By their choice of IFoA subjects, they may target the life, pensions, asset management, investment and risk management sectors. They will be in demand in quantitative risk management roles in both banks and insurance companies, as well as fund management companies, hedge funds, consultancies, software vendors and regulatory authorities. The market for graduates with actuarial qualifications complemented with data science skills is growing fast and we expect that it will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.


Student Actuarial Society

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


Go Global

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

Detailed course information

Course content

Detailed course guide

In semesters 1 and 2, students are required to take a total of 4 mandatory courses (F71CA/CB, F71RA/RB) and two pairs of optional courses (total of 4), totalling 120 credits.

Core courses

  • F71CA Actuarial Risk Management 1
  • F71RA Mach Learn Risk Ins 1
  • F71CB Actuarial Risk Management 2
  • F71RB Mach Learn Risk Ins 2
  • F71SD Dissertation

Optional courses

  • C31FM Financial Markets
  • F71DV Derivatives Markets & Pricing
  • F71LA Life Insurance 1
  • F71PC Pensions A
  • F71QR Quantitative Risk Analysis
  • C31FV Finance and Investment
  • F71AP Advanced Derivative Pricing
  • F71LB Life Insurance 2
  • F71PD Pensions B
  • F71TT Risk Man: Techniques and Tools

Entry requirements

Entry requires a strong Bachelors or Masters degree with a substantial actuarial content and covering a sufficient number of the Core Technical subjects CT1 to CT8 of the professional actuarial examinations.

A willingness to work hard and a drive to succeed are also important prerequisites.

If you have not already passed most/all of the Core Technical subjects (CT1 to CT8) then please refer to our MSc in Actuarial Science.

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:

  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5);
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills);
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading & writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking and listening)


Tuition fees for 2020 entry (by residency status)
Status* Full-time
Scotland / Non-UK EU £22000
England / Northern Ireland / Wales £22000
Overseas £22000

* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.

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.

Featured scholarships

Merit Awards for international students starting postgraduate degree courses in 2020

If you are an international fee-paying, self-funded offer holder you may be eligible for:

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.