Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics

Heriot-Watt's Department of Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics was the first of its kind in the UK and is one of the world's leading centres for teaching and research in these areas.

View all Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics courses

Around thirty per cent of our teaching staff are professionally qualified actuaries so teaching is always relevant and practical. Our BSc (Hons) in Actuarial Science is accredited by the Royal Statistical Society. Our BSc and MSc actuarial programmes are all fully accredited by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA).

We have many experts in the fields of probability, statistics and financial mathematics, the latter of which is much in demand in banks and investment companies. The lecturers in this area are recognised across the globe for the high quality of their work.

Our courses offer the chance of an industrial placement or a year studying abroad in Canada or Australia.

Transfer between our degrees in Actuarial Science and in Financial Mathematics, and between Statistical Data Science and Mathematics, are possible up to the end of Year 2.

Actuarial Science students at Heriot-Watt can take advantage of our international campuses by taking part in an Inter-Campus Transfer. This gives you the opportunity to study at our Malaysia campus for a semester or a year.

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is by examination and some project work based on practical statistical, financial and actuarial problems solved in the computer labs.

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.

Industry prize sponsors

A number of annual prizes, sponsored by employers, for overall student performance in each year, are available to our Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics students. These include:

  • Standard Life Prize
  • Worshipful Company of Actuaries Prize
  • Scottish Widows Prize
  • Longevitas Prize for Survival Models 
  • IMA Prize

External speakers

A range of external speakers from industry present to our students throughout the year. These talks are organised by academics within the Department, who have close links to the actuarial profession and the financial sector. Recent participants have included Standard Life, Munich Re, Deloitte, Lloyds Banking Group and Hymans Robertson. The talks allow students to learn first-hand about what they can expect in their work in the future. They also raise awareness of graduate and internship roles available within these companies.


Students will have many opportunities to develop their skills in specialist mathematical and statistical software throughout their degree to solve real-world problems, learn programming and mathematical modelling skills and handle large, complex data sets. This software includes:

  • R
  • Excel
  • Matlab
  • SPSS

Practical, computer-based project work is an integral part of many of our courses, to help students prepare for the modern workplace.

Students' Actuarial Society (SAS)

With over 250 members, our Students' Actuarial Society (SAS) is one of the largest societies dedicated to actuarial studies in the UK. SAS holds an Annual Actuarial Conference which brings together students and financial sector professionals, including many qualified actuaries, providing presentations and debates on topical actuarial issues. Last year's conference was attended by over 200 delegates, and included sessions on insurance investment strategy, insurance of terrorism risk, risk management in climate change, and the rising profile of pensions. The conference is also sponsored by the Scottish Board of the IFoA, which presents prizes for the best questions asked by student attendees.

Key information

Admissions Officer (MACS)