Most of all I enjoy how easy it is to approach anyone within the school. I feel very comfortable about contacting the lecturers concerning any questions or feedback. The MSc Actuarial Science has quite a small group of students, which makes it possible to get to know each other...
Why did you choose to study this course here at the School of Mathematics?
For many years it had been my plan to first study Mathematics on an undergraduate level and then obtain a postgraduate qualification more tailored towards a specific career path. During my undergraduate degree I enjoyed the lectures on probability and statistics the most and attended a very interesting workshop on actuarial careers. I researched different courses combining mathematical methods with applications in finance and risk and finally decided to start an MSc in Actuarial Science.
I chose to study the course at the University of Manchester in particular because it enables me to gain 4 exemptions from the exams of the IFoA and gives me the chance to do the dissertation as part of an internship or industrial project. Moreover, the syllabus is up to date and seemed like a good fit for my previous background. I’m now half way through the year and feel really well prepared to pursue a career as an actuary afterwards.
What were you doing before your MSc?
Before I came to Manchester to start my MSc I did a BSc degree in Mathematics at the University of Hamburg, which was fairly theoretical and gave me the opportunity to explore different areas within pure and applied maths. In my second and third year, I mainly chose modules in probability theory and statistics.
I also had the opportunity to spend a semester at an English university as part of the Erasmus program, which was a fantastic experience and led to the decision to return to the UK for my masters. I especially liked that the teaching approach puts more emphasis on possible applications of the mathematical theory to real-world problems.
What are your career plans after graduation?
I plan to start working as an actuarial trainee in an insurance or consultancy firm after graduation. I aspire to become a qualified actuary in the next few years and then specialise in a certain area of actuarial work based on my experiences on the job. Having said that there is an active research team in Mathematical Finance and Actuarial Science, so it will be possible to continue on to PhD study and a career in academia afterwards if that is your plan.
What do you enjoy most about studying at the School of Mathematics?
Most of all I enjoy how easy it is to approach anyone within the school. I feel very comfortable about contacting the lecturers concerning any questions or feedback. The MSc Actuarial Science has quite a small group of students, which makes it possible to get to know each other, and the course director Kees van Schaik makes sure everyone is informed of any important updates or interesting events.
The facilities in the Alan Turing Building are very modern and you can always find a computer that runs any software you might need. I especially like the designated study areas for postgraduate students and the little kitchen next to it, which is great for lunch breaks.
There are also careers advisors mainly assigned to students of the School of Mathematics as well as two careers fairs specifically for students and graduates of the school.
How much time to do you spend in classes and undertaking independent study?
Both during the first and the second semester there are 16 hours of lectures and tutorials per week. Every module involves three hours of lectures and a one-hour tutorial per week. Apart from the lectures and tutorials I probably spend around 15 hours revising the lecture notes and working on example sheets during an average week. I need additional time for solving coursework questions, which vary a lot in length and difficulty depending on the module and the lecturer. Lastly there are the exam periods of course with three weeks of intense all-day revision.
How did you find the change from Undergraduate to Postgraduate level study?
From my degree in Germany I was used to a very high workload due to compulsory coursework every week of the semester, which is a completely different system to the English one. If I compare the course with my undergraduate experience in the UK the content of the postgraduate level lectures is certainly more challenging to follow, increasing the need for independent study.
The MSc includes several modules which are advanced versions of the corresponding undergraduate modules. That means there is an additional hour of lectures per week as well as additional example sheets and coursework and an extended exam. Lastly there is the compulsory dissertation during the summer, which might be new for some students, but shouldn’t be a reason to worry as a lot of support is offered in the form of a workshop during the second semester and software classes at the beginning of the first semester.
What is the best thing about living in Manchester?
I think the best thing about Manchester is its ideal size. It is big enough for all your shopping, nightlife and cultural needs, but at the same time not too crowded and overwhelming. Living costs are reasonable and there’s really something to do for everyone thanks to many new venues for sports and arts. In the city centre you can easily get around by foot, while the public transport system is also modern and reliable. I enjoy that there are lots of parks nearby and that you can get to the Peak District in under an hour for a weekend walk.
Manchester has seen a lot of change in recent years and many residential developments are still under construction. That makes the city very lively and leads to the regular opening of new bars and cafes. While I think that the city doesn’t reveal all its beauty at first sight, I found that if you put some effort into exploring it you realise that there are a lot of interesting spots which you hadn’t noticed previously, and that’s what keeps living here exciting.
What advice would you give to those considering studying at the School of Mathematics?
First of all, don’t hesitate to contact the course director and admissions team with any questions. They are very helpful and happy to give you more information. Apart from that I would recommend to join the relevant social media groups in advance to stay updated about any events that happen during Welcome Week and maybe even to get to know some of your coursemates already.
If you have the chance it is certainly a good idea to visit the campus and the School of Mathematics beforehand. There are two postgraduate open days, one in November and one in February, which are a great opportunity to learn more about postgraduate study at the school and also talk to some lecturers as well as current students.