Frequently asked questions
What should I read before I arrive?
When you accept your offer with us, you will receive an induction pack which explains a little more about what to expect in your first year here and a few reading suggestions. However, I tend to keep my recommendations for actuarial students down to just two books:
- The Art of Statistics by David Spiegelhalter
- Talking to my Daughter about the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis
Both are excellent examples of communicating quite tricky and deep concepts very clearly with minimum jargon.
Beyond these I would suggest that some career thinking would be time very well spent. Students often find it difficult to devote enough time to thinking about why they are doing the programme they are on, what they want it to lead onto and what the possibilities are. You are clearly interested in the actuarial profession, so I would recommend that you explore www.actuaries.org.uk to get more of a view of the range of things the profession is involved in and what it takes to qualify as an actuary.
Why should I consider a year in industry?
A year in industry would not only give you a valuable work experience (this is the second most important thing for employers after how well you are doing on the course) and a much clearer idea of the kind of position you would be looking for on graduation, but will quite probably change the way you view yourself in terms of what you think you are capable of and what your priorities are.
How long does it take to qualify as an actuary?
The road to qualification as an actuary is a long one (median time to qualification as a fellow is 6 years, and for an associate is 4 years). Leicester’s Mathematics and Actuarial Science BSc can take 2 years off your qualification time, alongside getting you a degree.
Will I need to do any computer programming?
As an actuary you need to have good computer skills, in standard products such as Excel and Word, or in other products that will be used for modelling and data analysis.
Computer work is embedded in many of our courses, and in particular we work with R to help you to develop your skills in statistical data analysis and modelling. There is a little effort needed for you to become comfortable in using R, but we provide you with all of the support that you will need in order to develop the skills you need within the course, as well as additional activities you can get involved in if you choose, such as the Data Club.
Will I learn data science?
In the third year of your degree, there is a data science module designed to bring your skills together and develop your understanding of the field.
In reality though, many of the subjects that you will learn through your time at Leicester give you the building blocks to develop an understanding of data science, so if you are interested in this area then you can choose modules that will develop a firm foundation in this fast moving field.
Why should I come to Leicester?
A key strength of our programme is that you get the best of both worlds: learning real-world career skills and benefitting from the knowledge of our world-leading researchers, who will teach some of your modules too.
You are taught primarily by experienced practitioners who have used the skills that you will develop in a business context, and so can help you to understand real world applications of these techniques, and how to take these on into future employment.
We have excellent employer links which we maintain via the professional skills modules within our programmes, and our very active student society (which is also a regional society of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, with professional members who are regular visitors to campus). Students taking a Year with Industry also have the opportunity to develop their skills outside of the university environment.
Over the course of your degree, you will get to know the actuarial lecturers well, which means that we can support you effectively through your degree, as well as through your transition to the next stage of your career.
Can I study abroad?
Many of our courses feature the opportunity to study abroad.
There are many benefits of spending time studying abroad during your course - International experiences can enhance your academic and personal skills and your employability.
Most students go for one academic year, between the second and third years of their course. However, some Schools offer one-semester options. You can also consider going on an overseas summer school, whether as a taster for a full year, or simply as a shorter alternative. And don’t worry if you don’t currently speak any other languages - we have many partner universities in other English-speaking countries, and most of our partner universities teach at least some of their classes in English.
We have exchange partner universities on every continent (except Antarctica!). Where you can go depends on your course and this list can vary from year to year.