MSc Actuarial Management with Data Science

The course

Course type
Entry date

You've completed the mathematics in actuarial science and you want to qualify quickly. Our MSc in Actuarial Management with Data Science will take you close to the point of qualification and also develop your data science (machine learning) skills.


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Data Science (machine learning) uses computer algorithms to build models of the future.  Our MSc in Actuarial Management with Data Science will enable you to develop the skills to build and apply such models in an actuarial context. 

In addition, the degree is fully accredited with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in the UK for actuarial subjects: CP1, CP2, CP3, SP2, SP4, SP5, SP6 and SP9.  Studying subject SP9 leads to the internationally recognised Certified Enterprise Risk Actuary (CERA) qualification. 

These subjects cover a variety of areas including life insurance, risk management, investment, derivatives, pensions, communication and modelling.  Combining your choice of these with your development in machine learning skills will prepare you well for the modern world.  You choose the combination that works for you.

Completing this degree gets you close to qualification as an actuary, with only one or two exams left to complete after leaving university.  It typically speeds up your qualification by one or two years.

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.  For the MSc in Actuarial Management with Data Science, we also understand that you need to become an excellent professional and so we enable the development of your softer skills, and integrity, in this area too.

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. 

Study in 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.

The Actuarial Career Path

An actuary is an expert in risk management and this is usually applied in the world of insurance.  In order to qualify as an actuary in the UK a number of exams are completed with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in the UK.  The first set of exams cover the mathematical material you need to know and have IFoA course codes: CB1, CB2, CM1, CM2, CS1 and CS2.  These exams cover the subject areas: accounts, economics, financial/actuarial mathematics and applied statistics.  Heriot-Watt University has a BSc in Actuarial Science and an MSc in Actuarial Science that are both fully accredited with the IFoA for these subjects.  The MSc in Actuarial Science is a particularly quick way to obtain exemptions from these subjects as it takes only 1 year to complete.

The second set of exams is much more about the application of the mathematics you have already learned in real life.  This is in respect of subjects CP1, CP2, CP3, SP2, SP4, SP5, SP6 and SP9 with the IFoA and is covered by our MSc in Actuarial Management and MSc in Actuarial Management with Data Science.  The machine learning courses add to your ability to deliver in business as you learn to harness this technology to predict the future with ever greater accuracy.  This subject area was not covered in the past and we believe it will develop significantly over the coming years.

It is possible to reduce your fees and move extremely rapidly along the actuarial path to qualification by taking our 2-year MSc in Actuarial Science and Management.  This covers the CB1, CB2, CM1, CM2, CS1 and CS2 material in the first year and the CP1, CP2, CP3, SP2, SP4, SP5, SP6 and SP9 material (of which you choose a subset of subjects) in your second year.  If you wish, it is also possible to replace one of the "SP" subjects with the courses in machine learning available on the MSc in Actuarial Management with Data Science.

Completing these exams leaves you with only 1 or 2 exams left to allow your qualification as a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries – and so as a professional actuary.

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.

September 2023 entry

The deadline for applications from Scottish and RUK students is 31 August 2023. For EU and overseas applicants, we guarantee to consider applications submitted by the 8 August 2023.

Course content

The main course teaching on the programme takes place in the first and second semesters. Students normally take four courses in each semester. Two courses are normally required to cover all the material for one of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ exemption subjects.

Students must take courses associated with exemption subject “CP1”, and also the data science courses: Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance 1 & Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance 2.  Additional courses are chosen to secure exemption from two “SP” subjects.

(Two “SP” subjects are required in order to qualify as an actuary.)

Only eight courses across two semesters must be completed in total.

The courses, and any corresponding actuarial exemption subject they are linked to, are as follows.

Compulsory Courses

Semester 1

  • Actuarial Risk Management 1 (CP1)
  • Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance 1

Semester 2

  • Actuarial Risk Management 2 (CP1)
  • Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance 2

Optional courses

Semester 1

  • Life Insurance 1 (SP2)
  • Pensions A (SP4)
  • Financial Markets (SP5)
  • Derivative Markets and Pricing (SP6)
  • Quantitative Risk Analysis (SP9)

Semester 2

  • Life Insurance 2 (SP2)
  • Pensions B (SP4)
  • Finance and Investment (SP5)
  • Advanced Derivative Pricing (SP6)
  • Risk Management: Techniques and Tools (SP9)

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.

Entry requirements

Entry requires an excellent Bachelors or Masters degree, and for the student to have studied, and be proficient in, the application of a wide range of the early actuarial material. Broadly speaking, students need to have covered previously much of the syllabus of early Institute and Faculty of Actuaries subjects: CM1, CM2, CS1, CS2, CB1 and CB2.

The degree is challenging but rewarding.  Working hard will get you a suite of exemptions and the ability to perform well in interviews in order to secure your first role in business.

If you have not passed most or all of the early actuarial Institute and Faculty of Actuaries subjects then our MSc in Actuarial Science (1 year) degree or our MSc in Actuarial Science and Management (2 year) degree may be better for you.

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)


Tuition fees for entry
Status Full-time
UK £27200
Overseas £27200


  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.

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.