MSc and PhD Studies

The Department does offer a limited number of students the opportunity to pursue further postgraduate research in the form of an MSc or PhD, specialising in Actuarial Science. For further information about postgraduate research please contact the Department.


Honours Studies

A key focus area of the Department is its BSc(Honours)(Actuarial Science) degree.

During their undergraduate studies students are selected on their academic performance for admission into the Honours degree programme. They should achieve at least 5 exemptions from the A100 and A200 series subjects of the Actuarial Society of South Africa and an average of at least 60% for all their third year modules. Those students who did not achieve 5 exemptions during their undergraduate studies and who want to apply after writing the Actuarial Society Examinations will be considered if they can demonstrate passes in all 8 of the A100 and A200 level ASSA Subjects.

Admission to the Honours degree is granted by the Admissions Committee and candidates who do not fully meet the admission criteria will be considered individually. However, it should be noted that students are usually selected on the grounds of their excellent academic achievement.

Applications for current UP BSc(Financial and Actuarial Mathematics) students: contact the Department.

Candidates with degrees from other universities will be admitted to this Honours degree on criteria similar to that of UP graduates. A special application needs to be made to the Department. Admission forms for students from other Universities can be found at

The Honours course is made up Actuarial Risk Management (IAS 712), Actuarial Communications (IAS 722), Enterprise Risk Management (IAS 721), Life Insurance Principles (LEW 700) and/or Finance and Investment Principles  (FNI 700). Students don’t have to take all three of  LEW 700, IAS 721 and FNI 700 as they will have enough credits for the degree with only one of the three. However, stronger candidates make use of the opportunity to gain maximum exemptions by attempting two of the three modules.

Furthermore, Honours students have to submit a research project in order to obtain the degree.

The following exemptions are offered at Honours level:

Core Principles


UP Module(s)


Actuarial Risk Management

IAS 712



IAS 722

Fellowship Principles


UP Module(s)


Life Insurance Principles

LEW 700


Finance and Investment Principles

FNI 700


Honours Frequently Asked Questions

The Department receives many questions from current third years who would like more information about the Honours degree and their other options. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions. For more information please contact  the Department. 


What are the admissions criteria?
If you have not completed your degree in the allocated 3 years, are you still eligible for honours?
How do I apply?
How do I choose between doing Honours or looking for work?
Will I be able to work full-time and study Honours?

Which subjects will I be taking?
How many classes will I have each week?
May I take additional undergraduate subjects to gain exemptions that I missed during my Honours year?
What about this research project that we have to do?

1.       What are the admissions criteria?

You need a BSc degree majoring in Actuarial Science, at least 5 exemptions from the actuarial examinations and an average of 60% for your third year modules. Note that there are limited spaces available. More specifically:

  1. A relevant bachelor’s degree with Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Science on the 300-level.
  2. An average of 60% for all modules on third-year level.
  3. Exemption recommendations for at least five of the A100 and A200 level subjects of the Actuarial Society of South Africa.
  4. Students from other accredited institutions must comply with the same requirements based on equivalent modules at their institutions. In addition, students from other accredited institutions might also be required to pass an entrance evaluation.
  5. Student numbers are limited. Selection is based on performance in the prior degree, conditional on meeting the minimum requirements as set out in i to iv above.
  6. Historical performance during prior studies will also be considered in selecting students. Specific attention will be given to modules repeated and duration of study.
  7. Any additional entrance requirements as specified by the head of department in consultation with the departmental postgraduate selection committee. 

If you do not meet these criteria, but you are pretty close, it may be worth your while to submit an application anyway. The admissions committee does make exceptions for students who have achieved well academically.

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2.       If you have not completed your degree in the allocated 3 years, are you still eligible for Honours?

Yes, as long as you have 60% average for all your third year modules (those that have module numbers that start with a 3, e.g. WST 311) 

The 5 exemption rule is a bit more flexible but usually a good indication of a student’s ability to complete the Honours degree, some people have really good marks but not 5 exemptions so they do stand a chance, but this depends on the number of applications received.

Those students who did not achieve 5 exemptions during their undergraduate studies and who want to apply after writing the Actuarial Society Examinations will be considered if they can demonstrate passes in all 8 of the A100 and A200 level ASSA Subjects.

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3.       How do I apply?

If you are currently enrolled for BSc Financial and Actuarial Mathematics, in your final year of studies, and your marks and exemptions are well on track to meeting the admissions criteria, you can apply online through the UP student portal under internal applications.

The Admissions Committee will decide on the applications as soon as all the final academic results are available (usually late November or early December of the preceding year). Soon thereafter the successful candidates will be notified via email.

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4.       How do I choose between doing Honours or looking for work?

This is a difficult decision and ultimately depends upon each individual’s situation. You will have to take many factors into account.

You need to decide whether you will be able to work hard enough to gain exemptions while doing your Honours. You need to compare this with the opportunity of gaining a full year’s work experience.

If you are a dedicated student and prepared to work harder than ever, the rewards that an Honours degree in Actuarial Science at UP can bring (financially and otherwise) are definitely worth it.

If you have decided that qualifying as an actuary is no longer your ultimate goal, you might want to look at other Honours degrees. Some options available to you after graduating with a BSc Financial and Actuarial Mathematics degree are BSc(Honours) Financial Engineering or BSc(Honours) Mathematical Statistics.

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5.       Will I be able to work full-time and study Honours?

No, the Department does not allow this. The chances of you passing, let alone getting exemptions, are just about zero - even for very strong students. Remember 2 subjects per semester in Honours is more work than what you did in your first semester in third year. The only difference is, you have to work by yourself most of the time. Students will only be permitted to study for longer than 1 year under extreme mitigating circumstances.

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6.       Which subjects will I be taking?

You will be taking IAS 712 (Liabilities) and BNG 700 (Investments) in your first semester and jointly these subjects may get you an exemption from subject A311 (Actuarial Risk Management) (CA1). The content for both these courses is combined into a two-part examination of three hours each in June/July.

In the second semester you can choose between taking LEW 700 (Life Insurance), which offers exemption from subject F102 (Life Insurance Principles) (ST2), or FNI 700 (Finance and Investments), which offers exemption from subject F105 (Finance and Investment Principles) (ST5). Stronger candidates may choose to do both. You can also add IAS 722 (Actuarial Communications) to your subjects in order to prepare for the Actuarial Society's N211 examination and develop valuable presentation skills.

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7.       How many classes will I have per week?

You will have lectures each week for each subject as well as tutorials and discussion classes. These classes are usually in the morning/evening. The rest of the time is not free time. You will have to exert a fair amount of self-discipline to make sure that you stick to your study schedule. You will also have to make time for your research project.

The classes are presented by lecturers from the Department as well as part-time lecturers who work in the industry. Thus they have great insight into what really goes on in practice.

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8.       May I take additional undergraduate subjects to gain exemptions that I missed during my undergraduate studies in my Honours year?

No. You are not allowed to take any undergraduate courses for non-degree purposes if you are a postgraduate student.

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9.       What about this research project that we have to do?

The research project is compulsory in order for a postgraduate degree to be awarded. The project is usually limited to about 30 pages, and sufficient guidance is given to you by the Honours Research Coordinator which is allocated to you at the start of the project. You will also have to prepare a presentation about your project at the end of the year.

You may also work in pairs, which could serve to divide the workload between the two of you. Remember that you should choose your partner wisely if you plan on taking this route. You can choose your own topic, or a list of topics that have been recommended by interested parties, from the academic world and industry, is also available. Whilst it may sound daunting now, the project is sometimes a welcome relief from taking in loads of information. You will also get acquainted with a different side of the library during the course of it.

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