BlogUNSWWhat It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW

What It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW

UNSW Actuarial Studies - Degree Fact Sheet

Is your math-loving, risk-assessing brain drawing you towards a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW?

It certainly doesn’t take some data analysis to deduce that this program is a great tertiary option for any budding actuary. The real question is, “how do I get myself into this course ASAP?” and “what exactly makes it so great?” Well luckily for you, we specialise in giving you the answers to these exact questions. 

So now all you need to do is scroll down to find them!

What is a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW?
Core Units and Majors
How to Get into a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW
What’s the Teaching Format?
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

What is a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW?

You love maths and you want to make a career out of it – I bet a quick Google search has brought you here. Even so, you’re probably still umming and ahhing (even if you won’t admit it) over what this course really is.

To put it in simple terms (though nothing about this degree is simple), a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW combines the qualitative and the quantitative sides of financial management. It prioritises complex maths more than any other commerce specialisation, making its students fluent in all things data. 

Actuaries play a vital role in strategic planning, based on their ability to interpret complex trends and patterns. Their risk management skills are second to none and are highly sought after in the world of business.

Career Paths

The most natural career path for someone in the program is right there in the name. In saying that, not everyone goes on to become an actuary. 

This degree focuses on a range of areas in commerce so realistically, graduates can go in a variety of directions. Actually, a lot of students study a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW purely to gain a competitive edge over students in Commerce. 

Here are a few potential career paths for the program:

    • Actuarial Analyst 
    • Asset Management Trainee 
    • Business Consultant 
    • Credit Analyst 
    • Insurance Analyst 
    • Investment Banker 
    • Risk assessment Officer 
    • Superannuation Adviser 
    • Wealth management Analyst

Graduates of this program can also easily go onto careers in finance, accounting, economics and other commerce-related pathways.

Core Units and Majors

UNSW Actuarial Studies - Student Quote

The Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW is built up of 12 core courses. These core units dive into all areas of actuarial studies, as well as some areas of commerce. The actuary components of the course are compulsory because they comprise the exemption examinations for the Actuaries Institute’s Foundation Program in Australia. 

UNSW is one of eight accredited universities in Australia by the Actuaries Institute – upon completion of this degree, you will be eligible to apply for the Actuary Program. Once you complete the Actuary Program, you will receive an AIAA (Associate of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia) designation and will officially become an actuary.

Essentially the core units of the Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW were designed based on the requirements of the Actuaries Institute Foundation Program. Some of the courses you will be required to take are:

    • Accounting and Financial Management
    • Introduction to Actuarial Studies
    • Financial Mathematics for Actuaries 
    • Business Finance 
    • Micro and Macroeconomics

For a list of all the core units, make sure to check out the UNSW handbook!

What are the Majors?

Here’s the interesting thing about a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW – Actuarial Studies is your default major. By taking this course, you are required to undertake a certain amount of actuarial courses so it automatically becomes your major. 

But wait – there’s more! You have the option to undertake a second major within the Business School. There are enough leftover credits after the core units to build up a major if you so choose.

Otherwise, you can take electives in a range of different subjects to get a feel for what you like. Some of the majors are:

    • Accounting
    • Finance
    • Business Economics 
    • Human Resources Management 
    • Marketing
    • Mathematics
    • Statistics

A lot of Actuarial students also decide to undertake a dual program. Students often pair their Actuarial degree with Commerce, Science or Information Systems. 

Is there a built-in internship program?

Unfortunately, no. But that doesn’t mean you can’t undertake one! It just means that you have to put in a little bit more effort!

It’s common for students to pull their finger out at the end of their penultimate year to score an internship over the summer break. Otherwise, the Business school offers an Industry Experience Program (COMM2222), which can be taken as an elective and incorporates practical work with academically assessed learning. 

You will most likely attend your internship twice per week and at the end of the semester you will write a report on your experiences. It’s a great way to score practical experience without having to sacrifice a summer break (we wouldn’t want that now would we?).

The program also offers an impressive catalogue of industry partners. This means that you don’t have to spend too much time looking for a business to work with – you could be working with Kellogs, Nestlé or Adecco!


How to Get into a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW

This course is not for the faint hearted – it’s for self-acclaimed math whizzes with impressive ATARs. You’ll need to score a 97.50 or equivalent to be guaranteed entry into this course. 

If you’re worried that that might be a little bit of a stretch, there are alternative entry programs which can be found at UNSW Future Students. Another common pathway is to enrol in a course with a lower ATAR cut-off, like Commerce for example, and then to transfer over later on in your course.

Is there assumed knowledge or pre-requisite subjects?

Yep! You guessed it! A Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW has assumed knowledge in HSC Mathematics Extension 1. 

But let’s be real. You wouldn’t even be considering this course if you weren’t already happily enrolled in an Extension Maths subject. And, as far as pre-requisite subjects go, well, there aren’t any! 

What scholarships are available?

UNSW offers a variety of scholarships specific to each year and field of study. A list of those scholarships can be found here!

Interested in getting sponsored by one of the Big 4 to study Commerce at UNSW? Check out how to apply for a UNSW Co-op program here!

What’s the Teaching Format?

We’ve got some bad news for you – as of 2019, UNSW runs under a trimester system (if only you were born four years earlier!). But hey it’s not all bad because you’ll finish your degree faster than your snail-paced friends over at USYD! 

With the trimester system you will be studying 3 subjects per academic session. You can, however, enrol in one session per year with only two subjects while still fulfilling full-time requirements (woohoo!). 

With 3 subjects per session, you’ll most likely have something within the margin of 12 contact hours per week – and you’ll have even less if you’re only taking 2 courses.

Class Structure

Courses are built up of lectures, tutorials and in some cases, labs too.

UNSW Actuarial Studies - Class Structure


Lectures normally run for 3 hours per week; they aren’t compulsory and are recorded online for you to watch later, so people don’t always turn up (but you definitely should). Because of this, they aren’t too busy, with probably around 100 students present.

They’re used to introduce the course content and rely on presentational learning. There is next to no peer-participation during lectures, as they are primarily used to present theory and modelling techniques that you will practically interact with in tutorials and labs.


Now, these classes are compulsory and go for 1 hour per week, but they are much smaller with only around 20 other students. You’ll find that they’re more interactive than lectures and are used to go over preparation questions introduced in the lecture, as well as give you a chance to ask your tutor more questions.


These are the most practical of all the class styles and have a class size of roughly 20 students, running for 1 hour per week.

Not all courses will have a lab, but in the case that they do, they are used to actually apply the modelling techniques established in lectures. Using the computers in the labs, you will be able to apply the modelling techniques to much larger data sets – so don’t flake on these classes!

What are assessments like?

The style of assessments will vary depending on whether you’re taking a core course or an elective commerce course. 

The core courses will most likely be built up of a mid semester test worth around 20%, an assignment throughout the semester (group presentation, case study, essay, etc.) also worth roughly 20% and a final exam worth a whopping 60%. The final exam is heavily weighted because it constitutes the exemption examination by the Actuaries Institute. 

In other commerce subjects, the assessments will most likely be far more evenly weighted. You’ll most likely have multiple small assignments (presentations, weekly homework quiz, mid semester test) throughout the term leading up to a final exam weighted at 30% – 40%. 

What skills will you refine and learn?

The Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW is a very quantitative-focused degree. It establishes skills in coding, programming and insurance modelling, which are skills that necessitate a high understanding of mathematical approaches and are more intensive than other business areas.

The degree also focuses, however, on qualitative business areas meaning that you’ll also develop skills in project-focused areas such as decision making, critical thinking and problem solving. Essentially, this degree bridges students that are more interested in quantitative learning with real-world business practices so they can apply their knowledge to get employed straight out of uni.

What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

UNSW is known for its chill and inclusive culture. The university attracts a variety of students from all around Australia and the world, so it’s never really hard to meet new people in classes because you’ll most likely find that people are also on the lookout for new friends themselves.

The Business School is one of the largest faculties at UNSW. For this reason there are heaps of resources that make studying a dream.

This faculty holds large scale events throughout the year, such as seminars and events geared towards networking for post-graduation employment. They also hold fun social events too!

Keen to know more about this degree? Learn about the pros and cons here!

What about the societies?

Actuarial Society (Asoc) is the first student-based point of contact for students studying a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at UNSW. In saying that, you don’t even need to be doing Actuarial Studies to be part of the society! 

Asoc offers a whole suite of opportunities for members, social and professional alike – throughout the year there are career fairs, networking events and social events too! They even have a first year camp and a Ball at the end of the year. 

Asoc doesn’t just plan events though; they also provide educational resources, like previous textbooks and exam examples. The society hosts a mentoring program, which links up students from third and fourth year to help out the newbie first years, and there’s even a professional mentoring program that gives students an opportunity to learn from alumni in the workforce!

For more information, make sure to check out their Facebook!

Cody Williams is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education. While Cody studied a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and French Studies at UNSW, he quickly realised that his dream job would have him sit happily behind a keyboard. Cody’s digital writing career started with an internship at Bauer Media where he was writing for ELLE and Harper’s BAZAAR’s online publications. Once he had a taste for writing he never looked back, moving to Brisbane soon later to work as a Producer for Channel Nine Queensland. After a year in television media, he dusted off his online writing shoes so he could put them to good use, stamping out some scorching-hot career and educational resources at AOS.


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