Student Info & Guide

myCourse Guide: Bachelor degree in Actuarial Studies & the Job of an Actuary

by on December 30, 2016 | Top Stories

There is risk all around us - from fast-moving investment markets to traffic on the roads; from our health to the changing climate around us. A degree in actuarial studies will teach students how to apply their mathematical talent in understanding, measuring and managing the risks and uncertainties that we encounter in almost every aspect of our lives.

Actuarial studies involves the study of several inter-linked subjects, among them mathematics, statistics, accounting, economics, and finance. Students will learn actuarial principles that are involved in the pricing, risk assessment, investment, financial management and the financial soundness of the obligations of insurance companies, benefits plans and other financial security systems.

The job of an actuary

Besides working in the traditional role of insurance and retirement benefits, actuaries are also employed as investment analysts, fund administrators, investment managers, liability managers, actuarial insurance brokers, consultants, and senior managers.

The work of an actuary includes analysing statistical data (such as mortality, accident, sickness, disability, and retirement rates) and constructing probability tables to forecast risk and liability for payment of future benefits.

Their role also includes determining company policy, and explaining complex technical matters to company executives, government officials, shareholders, policyholders, or the public. Actuaries also design, test, and administer insurance policies, investments, pension plans, and other business strategies to minimise risk and maximise profitability.

Actuaries use computers, and advanced database, statistics and modelling software to compile information and forecast the cost and probability of an event.

Is actuarial studies for you?

course on focus If you're good at math and like to analyse numbers and problems, this could be the career for you. Actuaries enjoy learning, like to solve complicated problems, enjoy writing and talking to people, can work effectively alone or as part of a team, are interested in a variety of historical, social, legislative, and political issues, and are self-motivated achievers.

The career interest code (Holland Code) for this career is CIE (Conventional, Investigative, Enterprising).

Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Enterprising - Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Work styles

In addition to personality traits, there are also certain work styles suited to the job of an actuary. Because the job requires analysing information and using logic to address problems, an actuary needs to excel at analytical thinking and have good attention to detail. The job also requires an actuary to be honest, ethical, dependable and persistent. An actuary enjoys challenges at work. He or she may sometimes be required to take on leadership roles, and be able to work cooperatively with others.

Studying actuarial studies in Malaysia

A degree in actuarial studies takes 3-4 years to complete. Students will study subjects like finance, microeconomics, macroeconomics, calculus, linear algebra, probability and statistics, business reporting and analysis, mathematics, financial management, and communication skills.

Some Examples of Course Providers

Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU) offers a dual degree, BSc (Hons) in Actuarial Studies, in collaboration with Staffordshire University, UK. The 3-year programme is designed and delivered by APU; and accredited by Staffordshire.

Graduates of the programme will be awarded two undergraduate degree certificates: one from APU and one from Staffordshire University. The qualification is recognised internationally and the collaboration approved by the United Kingdom Quality Assurance Agency's (QAA); the Ministry of Education of Malaysia; and the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

The programme is designed not only to provide students with knowledge and skills to enter the actuarial profession but also prepare them for the professional examinations that will lead them to a qualified actuary.

Here's what students can expect to study during each academic year:

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
  • Business and Communication Skills
  • Microeconomics
  • Calculus
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Financial Accounting
  • Introduction to Visual Programming
  • Linear Algebra
  • Probability Models
  • Statistical Inference
  • Statistical Investigation
  • Calculus II
  • Ethics and Corporate Governance
  • Financial Economics
  • Financial Management
  • Financial Mathematics
  • Financial Planning and Control
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Life Contingencies
  • Linear Programming
  • Regression Analysis
  • Business Research Methods
  • Time Series and Forecasting
  • Corporate Finance
  • Financial Derivatives
  • Insurance Practice
  • Introduction to Stochastic Process
  • Investigation in Actuarial Studies
  • Macroeconomics Policy and Financial Markets
  • Pension Planning
  • Portfolio Management
  • Project in Actuarial Studies
  • Risk Theory
  • Survival Analysis


During their undergraduate studies, APU students can attempt the examinations conducted by professional bodies such as Society of Actuaries (SOA, US) or Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and upon graduation, they can embark on careers as an actuarial assistant. In APU, students will also receive credits for all the 3 Validated by Educational Experience (VEE) papers from SOA as long as they receive a minimum mark of 70% in the APU equivalent papers. While working, they continue to sit and pass the remaining professional exams, eventually becoming qualified actuaries in their chosen specialisation in various areas such as Corporate Finance and Enterprise Risk management, Individual Life and Annuities, Group and health Insurance, Retirement Benefits, Quantitative Finance and Investment, and General Insurance.

At the end of the second year, students will undertake a short internship, also known as industrial training that will prepare them for a smooth transition from the classroom to the working world.

Here's an overview of some actuarial studies degrees in Malaysia:

  Name of course Intake and Duration Admission requirements
Private higher education institutions      
Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation BSc (Hons) Actuarial Studies January, April;

3 years
  • 2 principal passes at STPM/A-Levels level and 4 credit passes at SPM including mathematics
  • The APIIT/APU Foundation or equivalent with CGPA of 2.0 and credit in mathematics at SPM/O-Level
  • It's equivalent
HELP University American Degree Transfer Programe - Actuarial Science January, March, May, September;

Total 4 years - option for '1+3' or '2+2' years
  • SPM, 5 credits (with a pass in BM)
    Or O-level, 5 credits or it's equivalent
Heriot-Watt University Malaysia Bachelor of Science (Hons) Actuarial Science September;

3 years
  • HWUM Foundation in Science: ABBC - A in mathematics, B in physics, B in chemistry, C in academic English/study skills
  • HWUM Foundation in Business and Design: ABBC - A in mathematics, B in accountancy and finance, B in business management, C in academic English/study skills
  • STPM/A-Level: ABB including A in mathematics
  • It's equivalent
INTI International University and Colleges American Degree Transfer Program (Actuarial Science) January, May, August;

Total 4 years - option for '1+3' or '2+2' years
  • SPM/O-level, 5 credits
  • It's equivalent
Manipal International University (MIU) Bachelor of Actuarial Finance February, June, September;

3 years
  • STPM/A-Levels, min pass in 2 relevant subjects
  • Pass foundation programmes from MIU
  • A credit in mathematics in SPM, 'O' Level or equivalent
  • Or it's equivalent
Sunway University BSc (Hons) Actuarial Studies January, March, August;

3 years
  • STPM Average C+ or CGPA 2.33 (minimum 2 principals)
  • A Level CC / CDE (minimum 12 points)
  • Or it's equivalent
Taylor's University American Degree Transfer Program (Business) majoring in Actuarial Science January, May, August;

Total 4 years - '2+2'
  • SPM/O-level, min 5 credits including English or mathematics with a pass in BM (Conditional offer - min 5 credits in any subjects with a pass in BM)
  • Or it's equivalent
UCSI University, Kuala Lumpur Campus BSc (Hons) Actuarial Science January, May, September;

3 years
  • STPM/ 'A' Levels, minimum 2 principals, inclusive of minimum B in mathematics
  • UCSI foundation programme, pass with CGPA 2.5 or above including MF007
  • Or it's equivalent
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Bachelor of Science (Hons) Actuarial Science January, May, October;

3 years
  • STPM/A-Levels, minimum 2 principal passes in the relevant subjects
  • A-Levels, minimum 2 passes in the relevant subjects
  • UTAR Foundation in Arts, passed both Mathematics subjects
  • UTAR Foundation in Science
  • Or it's equivalent
Public Universities Name of course
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Bachelor of Science with Honours (Actuarial Science)
Universiti Malaya Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Actuarial and Financial Mathematics

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Data

For more information on the course listings above, please view list of actuarial science degrees here.

Practising as an actuary in Malaysia

To become a professional actuary in Malaysia, a graduate will have to sit for and pass a series of professional papers, gainpractical experience, and attend residential courses. The professional exams are based on Bank Negara and The Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) requirements.

ASM is the only representative body for the actuarial profession in Malaysia but does not conduct its own examinations. In Malaysia, most actuaries are from one of the following actuarial bodies:


You May Also Be Interested In...

Download FREE myCourseGuide
Course Interest Test - Find out what course is right for you!
Course Interest Test - Find out what course is right for you!