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Introduction to Actuarial Science

Australian National University via edX


You may have heard of actuarial science, or you might even know an actuary, but do you know what an actuary does? During the course you’ll hear from a wide variety of actuaries about their careers.

And don’t be scared that the course will be “just a whole lot of mathematics”. Together, we will go beyond the math to learn how actuaries approach problems relating to risk, using examples from:

  • Finance
  • Investments
  • Banking
  • Insurance

You will learn how actuarial science applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in these industries and other professions.

You’ll experience “hands-on” learning using Excel (or an equivalent spreadsheet tool) to project and investigate the financial condition of a company choosing appropriate strategies for the company through the use of simulations.

The course has been carefully designed for students from a wide variety of backgrounds, with secondary/high school level being the only assumption of mathematical background. Even if you don’t have any background in, for example, calculus, the course has been designed so you can skip over these sections without affecting your understanding of the rest of the course. You also do not need to have any Excel or other spreadsheet background to take the course.

For those with stronger mathematical backgrounds, extension questions are provided to test you further. You’ll learn a huge amount about actuarial science no matter what your background is!

"Great introduction to this specialized field; every day there are new challenges where as a student you are put in a situation to learn and apply the lessons with practical exercises. Great structure of the course, with main concepts to review at the end of a lesson. I would recommend to anyone who would like to learn more about actuarial science." - Previous student


Lesson 1: Valuing Cash Flows
  • Time Value of Money
  • Present Value
  • Accumulated Value
  • Valuing Multiple Regular Payments 
Lesson 2: Applications of Valuing Cash Flows
  • Equations of Value
  • Example – Annuity Certain
  • Application in Spreadsheets
Lesson 3: Analysis of State Transitions
  • Introduction to State Transitions
  • Two State Model (Active/Dead)
  • Calculating Probabilities using the Two State Model 
Lesson 4: The Life Table
  • Introduction to the Life Table
  • Calculating Probabilities using the Life Table 
Lesson 5: Valuing Uncertain Cash Flows
  • Expected Present Value
  • Accumulated Value and Uncertainty
Lesson 6: Modelling a Life Insurance Company 1
  • The Life Insurance Company Scenario
  • A Single Projection
  • Simulations
  • Analysing the Simulation Output
Lesson 7: Modelling a Life Insurance Company 2
  • Reserves
  • Adjustments to Reserves
  • Additional Scenarios

Taught by

Adam Butt


5.0 rating, based on 3 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Introduction to Actuarial Science

  • Kohei I completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    I actually learned a lot from this well designed course. Starting from the basics of present value of money, the course developed fairly fast, covering probabilities, life table and a simulation of a life insurance company. My favorite part was the...
  • Profile image for Will Young
    Will Young

    Will Young completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    It was a good overview of the actuary profession, with some tasks using spreadsheets of actuary models. I would consider it medium difficulty since one can make a mistake editing a model and end up doing a little bit of debugging to get back on track.

    Definitely worth taking if you are interested in the actuary profession.
  • Profile image for Nisarg Patel
    Nisarg Patel

    Nisarg Patel completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    Its actually an interesting course for exploring more about actuarial science. Time worth spending. It will give you a brief knowledge about the topic and will tempt you to explore more. Awesome course!!!

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