ACTL3142 Actuarial Data and Analysis - 2021

Term 2
6 Units of Credit
On Campus and Online
Risk & Actuarial Studies
The course outline is not available for current term. To view outlines from other years and/or terms, visit the archives .

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

This course covers the techniques in data analysis including techniques for mortality, health, and insurance data used in actuarial analysis and decision-making. Particular focus will be on techniques often referred to by ‘predictive analytics’ and ‘statistical learning’, and their applications to actuarial work.

The course covers aspects of data analysis including exploratory data analysis, classification and prediction with regression models; descriptive, inferential and predictive analysis and models; and statistical and machine learning including supervised and unsupervised learning. A particular focus will be placed on communication of technical results for business applications.

This course covers the Regression, GLM and Data Analysis components of the Subject CS1 - Actuarial Statistics I of the Institute of Actuaries.

Teaching Times and Locations

Please note that teaching times and locations are subject to change. Students are strongly advised to refer to the Class Timetable website for the most up-to-date teaching times and locations.

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

The aims of this course are to provide students with an understanding of the main techniques on predictive analytics / data analytics techniques of particular relevance to actuarial work, including

  • Regression techniques and classification methods
  • Model selection and validation methods including cross validation and dimension reduction
  • Linear and Non-linear models
  • Decision Trees and extensions
  • Supervised and unsupervised learning techniques

Students are assumed to have a good mathematics background and a solid understanding of the concepts of probability and statistics, and actuarial modelling.

Students need to be able to use a word processing package (such as WORD) and a spreadsheet (such as EXCEL). They should also be able to use the statistical software package R which will be used to implement many of the models discussed in this course, and in particular in the lab classes.

2. Staff Contact Details

Position Title Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Lecturer-in-chargeDrHéloïse Labit HardyLevel 5, East Wing, UNSW Business School Building – Ref E12
TBA on Moodle
LecturerDrDr Fei HuangLevel 6, East Wing, UNSW Business School Building – Ref E12
TBA on Moodle

Communication with staff​

​The course Lecturer-in-charge is Dr Héloïse Labit Hardy. She is responsible for the teaching from week 1 to week 5 as well as of the assessments of the course. All administrative and academic (learning) enquiries to do with the course should be directed to Héloïse. Dr Fei Huang will be teaching from week 7 to week 10. Weekly consultations will be hold during the term and time details will announced on the course Moodle website.

This course has several tutors. They are responsible for tutorials and grading of the formative activities and assignment tasks. The tutors will hold consultations in the week before some of the assessments. Their consultation times details will also be posted on the course website.

Students are strongly encouraged to first ask their questions during/at the end of the lectures, tutorials and during consultations. If none of these options are possible, students may post their questions on the course forum.

3. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

The approach adopted in this course is a “flipped and blended” classroom. This is an assisted self-study approach and differs from the traditional lecture-based approach.

The main rationale for this “flipped and blended” structure is twofold. First, it frees up class time which can now be used to do in–class exercises and learning-by-doing activities, which aim at enhancing students’ long-lasting (deep) learning.

Second, it brings a significant portion of the face-to-face time later in the learning process, when students are more comfortable with the material, and more likely to interact and ask questions.

In this “flipped and blended” approach, the first conceptual encounter with the material happens at home when students study the relevant course material (e.g. textbook chapters, video lectures, lecture notes). The second conceptual encounter with the material of a given module happens in class, i.e. in a “lectorial”, through a learn-by-doing activity to spark the students’ interest in the topic and to provide a context for the subsequent modules. The word “lectorial” combines lecture and tutorial - lecture because they are run by the lecturer with the whole group, and tutorial because their goal is not to “lecture” students. By contrast, in a lectorial, the lecturer provides a high level summary of the key concepts of the module and runs other activities (such as discussions, advanced exercises, guest lectures, real life applications) that aim to cement students’ learning.

Finally, the students move on to practicing their knowledge in labs. Lab sessions are aimed at providing some additional and personalised help on a weekly basis.

Course materials are organised into 9 modules. Please refer to the course schedule for details.

This course consists of:

- Self-study course material available on the course Moodle website (e.g. textbook chapters, video lectures, lecture notes, exercises),

- Weekly lectorials,

- Weekly labs, and

- Weekly consultation times.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

The learning activities of this course involve four key components – your private study, the lectorials, the labs and the in-session assessments (i.e. weekly formative activities and assignment). It is expected that the students will take a proactive approach to learning.


Students are responsible for learning topics with the following materials available on the course website:

- Prescribed book (and recommended books for additional support) and/or topic video lectures (when applicable),

- Lectorial notes,

- Exercises and labs with solutions,

- Past exams for advanced exercises.

It is recommended to have read all prescribed readings and/or watched the associated videos (when applicable) prior to the associated module’s lectorial. Lectorials will generally cover the main concepts and issues and will not necessarily cover all the details of the course readings, texts or videos. It is expected that you have read the reading material for the lectorial in advance. On average, students have one week to cover the content of a given module.

Every student has a different approach to learning. How much time you spend on reading and watching videos in preparation for lectures, completing assessment tasks, reviewing course objectives, deepening your understanding and preparing for final examinations will depend on your learning approach. Students who are successful in this course take an active approach to learning.

Your private study is the most important component of this course. Weekly readings, solving problems, and your own topic summaries form the basis of an excellent private study regime. Keeping up to date is very important and each week builds on the prior weeks so it is important that you get your study regime organised quickly.


The purpose of lectorials is to provide a logical structure for the topics that make up the course, to emphasise the important concepts and methods of each topic, and to provide relevant examples to which the concepts and methods are applied. Lectorials provide opportunities to ask questions about the associated modules. Students are also encouraged to prepare questions and communicate them to the lecturer during the lectorials or the weekly consultations.

Labs (tutorials)

The more you read the more you know, but the more you practice the more you learn and understand. So the key to understanding this course is practicing. The labs will focus on the computer implementation in R of the topics covered in the course.

The purpose of labs is to enable you to raise questions about difficult topics or problems encountered in your studies. Students must not expect another lecture – their questions should drive what is discussed during a lab. Labs are for students to ask questions on aspects of the course that need further clarification and to interact with other students in the course. Students need to attempt the exercises prior to the labs and identify problems that require closer review during labs. They are an opportunity to learn from other students and to develop team skills by working on problems with other students.

A good learning strategy for the labs is:

- Prior to attempting the exercises, review your lecture notes.

- Prior to the lab, attempt the exercises you should do before the lab.

- During the lab, attempt the exercises you should do in the lab.

- After the lab, attempt the exercises you should do after the lab.

- If you have questions about the exercises, ask them to your tutor. If you think you have a good understanding of the material, you should try and answer the questions of your peers. This will give you feedback on your ability to explain the material and hence how well you know the material.

- Check your answers using the solutions.

5. Course Resources

Course website

The website for this course is on Moodle.

The course will use various digital resources, but they all will be linked from Moodle.

To access the Moodle online support site for students, follow the links from that website to UNSW Moodle Support/Support for Students. Additional technical support can be obtained from (02 9385 1333).

All course contents will be available from the course website. It is essential that you visit the site regularly to see any notices posted there by the course coordinator, as it will be assumed that they are known to you within a reasonable time.


There are many books of relevance to the course topics. The following book will be the main text references for a substantial part of the course:

  • James, G., Witten, D., Hastie, T., Tibshirani, R., An Introduction to Statistical Learning with Applications in R, Springer, 2013

Additional readings from the professional actuarial literature will also be used to provided additional context, details, and examples. This will be communicated in the course website.

The Actuaries Institute

The Actuaries Institute allows students to become University Subscribers free of charge. Full time undergraduates studying at an Institute accredited university who are members of a university student actuarial society are eligible. To sign up.

6. Course Evaluation & Development

Feedback is regularly sought from students and continual improvements are made based on this feedback. At the end of this course, you will be asked to complete the myExperience survey, which provides a key source of student evaluative feedback. Your input into this quality enhancement process is extremely valuable in assisting us to meet the needs of our students and provide an effective and enriching learning experience. The results of all surveys are carefully considered and do lead to action towards enhancing educational quality.

Each year feedback is sought from students and other stakeholders about the courses offered in the School and continual improvements are made based on this feedback. UNSW's myExperience survey is one of the ways in which student evaluative feedback is gathered. In this course, we will seek your feedback through end of semester myExperience responses and other informal forums.

7. Course Schedule

Note: for more information on the UNSW academic calendar and key dates including study period, exam, supplementary exam and result release, please visit:
Week Activity Topic Assessment/Other
Week 1: 31-MayLectorial, self-study and labs

Module 1 - Introduction; Actuaries and Predictive Analytics techniques

Module 2 - Linear Regression techniques: Simple/Multiple; K-Nearest Neighbors

Text Reference: Chapters 1,2,3

Weekly formative activity

Week 2: 07-JunLectorial, self-study and labs

Module 2 - Linear Regression techniques: Simple/Multiple; K-Nearest Neighbors

Text Reference: Chapter 3

Weekly formative activity

Week 3: 14-JunLectorial, self-study and labs

Module 2 - Linear Regression techniques: Simple/Multiple; K-Nearest Neighbors

Module 3 - Classification Methods

Text Reference: Chapters 3, 4

Weekly formative activity

Week 4: 21-JunLectorial, self-study and labs

Module 3 - Classification Methods

Module 4 - Resampling Methods: Cross Validation and Bootstrap

Text Reference: Chapters 4, 5

Weekly formative activity

Week 5: 28-JunLectorial, self-study and labs

Module 4 - Resampling Methods: Cross Validation and Bootstrap

Module 5 - Linear Model Selection and Regularization: Subsets, Shrinkage, and Dimension Reduction

Text Reference: Chapters 5, 6

Weekly formative activity

Week 6: 05-JulFlexibility week



Week 7: 12-JulLectorial, self-study and labs

Module 5 - Linear Model Selection and Regularization: Subsets, Shrinkage, and Dimension Reduction

Module 6 - Generalised Linear Models


Text Reference: Chapter 6

Weekly formative activity

Week 8: 19-JulLectorial, self-study and labs

Module 6 - Generalised Linear Models

Module 7 - Non-Linear methods: Polynomial Regression, Splines, and Generalized Additive Models

Text Reference: Chapter 7

Weekly formative activity


Week 9: 26-JulLectorial, self-study and labs

Module 7 - Non-Linear methods: Polynomial Regression, Splines, and Generalized Additive Models

Module 8 - Decision Trees: Bagging and Boosting

Text Reference: Chapters 7, 8

Weekly formative activity

Week 10: 02-AugLectorial, self-study and labs

Module 8 - Decision Trees: Bagging and Boosting

Module 9 - Introduction to unsupervised Learning Methods

Text Reference: Chapters 8, 10

Weekly formative activity

8. Policies and Support

Information about UNSW Business School program learning outcomes, academic integrity, student responsibilities and student support services. For information regarding special consideration and viewing final exam scripts, please go to the key policies and support page.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Business School places knowledge and capabilities at the core of its curriculum via seven Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs). These PLOs are systematically embedded and developed across the duration of all coursework programs in the Business School.

PLOs embody the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are taught, practised and assessed within each Business School program. They articulate what you should know and be able to do upon successful completion of your degree.

Upon graduation, you should have a high level of specialised business knowledge and capacity for responsible business thinking, underpinned by ethical professional practice. You should be able to harness, manage and communicate business information effectively and work collaboratively with others. You should be an experienced problem-solver and critical thinker, with a global perspective, cultural competence and the potential for innovative leadership.

All UNSW programs and courses are designed to assess the attainment of program and/or course level learning outcomes, as required by the UNSW Assessment Design Procedure. It is important that you become familiar with the Business School PLOs, as they constitute the framework which informs and shapes the components and assessments of the courses within your program of study.

PLO 1: Business knowledge

Students will make informed and effective selection and application of knowledge in a discipline or profession, in the contexts of local and global business.

PLO 2: Problem solving

Students will define and address business problems, and propose effective evidence-based solutions, through the application of rigorous analysis and critical thinking.

PLO 3: Business communication

Students will harness, manage and communicate business information effectively using multiple forms of communication across different channels.

PLO 4: Teamwork

Students will interact and collaborate effectively with others to achieve a common business purpose or fulfil a common business project, and reflect critically on the process and the outcomes.

PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Students will develop and be committed to responsible business thinking and approaches, which are underpinned by ethical professional practice and sustainability considerations.

PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

Students will be aware of business systems in the wider world and actively committed to recognise and respect the cultural norms, beliefs and values of others, and will apply this knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.

PLO 7: Leadership development

Students will develop the capacity to take initiative, encourage forward thinking and bring about innovation, while effectively influencing others to achieve desired results.

These PLOs relate to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs.  Separate PLOs for honours and postgraduate research programs are included under 'Related Documents'.

Business School course outlines provide detailed information for students on how the course learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment/s contribute to the development of Program Learning Outcomes.



UNSW Graduate Capabilities

The Business School PLOs also incorporate UNSW graduate capabilities, a set of generic abilities and skills that all students are expected to achieve by graduation. These capabilities articulate the University’s institutional values, as well as future employer expectations.

UNSW Graduate CapabilitiesBusiness School PLOs
Scholars capable of independent and collaborative enquiry, rigorous in their analysis, critique and reflection, and able to innovate by applying their knowledge and skills to the solution of novel as well as routine problems.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Entrepreneurial leaders capable of initiating and embracing innovation and change, as well as engaging and enabling others to contribute to change
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Professionals capable of ethical, self-directed practice and independent lifelong learning
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Global citizens who are culturally adept and capable of respecting diversity and acting in a socially just and responsible way.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

While our programs are designed to provide coverage of all PLOs and graduate capabilities, they also provide you with a great deal of choice and flexibility.  The Business School strongly advises you to choose a range of courses that assist your development against the seven PLOs and four graduate capabilities, and to keep a record of your achievements as part of your portfolio. You can use a portfolio as evidence in employment applications as well as a reference for work or further study. For support with selecting your courses contact the UNSW Business School Student Services team.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Academic Integrity is honest and responsible scholarship. This form of ethical scholarship is highly valued at UNSW. Terms like Academic Integrity, misconduct, referencing, conventions, plagiarism, academic practices, citations and evidence based learning are all considered basic concepts that successful university students understand. Learning how to communicate original ideas, refer sources, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that you will be able to carry beyond your studies.

The definition of academic misconduct is broad. It covers practices such as cheating, copying and using another person’s work without appropriate acknowledgement. Incidents of academic misconduct may have serious consequences for students.


UNSW regards plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct. UNSW has very strict rules regarding plagiarism. Plagiarism at UNSW is using the words or ideas of others and passing them off as your own. All Schools in the Business School have a Student Ethics Officer who will investigate incidents of plagiarism and may result in a student’s name being placed on the Plagiarism and Student Misconduct Registers.

Below are examples of plagiarism including self-plagiarism:

Copying: Using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the source or using quotation marks. This includes copying materials, ideas or concepts from a book, article, report or other written document, presentation, composition, artwork, design, drawing, circuitry, computer program or software, website, internet, other electronic resource, or another person's assignment, without appropriate acknowledgement of authorship.

Inappropriate Paraphrasing: Changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and/or progression of ideas of the original, and information without acknowledgement. This also applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit and to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without appropriate referencing.

Collusion: Presenting work as independent work when it has been produced in whole or part in collusion with other people. Collusion includes:

  • Students providing their work to another student before the due date, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time
  • Paying another person to perform an academic task and passing it off as your own
  • Stealing or acquiring another person’s academic work and copying it
  • Offering to complete another person’s work or seeking payment for completing academic work

Collusion should not be confused with academic collaboration (i.e., shared contribution towards a group task).

Inappropriate Citation: Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from which knowledge of them has been obtained.

Self-Plagiarism: ‘Self-plagiarism’ occurs where an author republishes their own previously written work and presents it as new findings without referencing the earlier work, either in its entirety or partially. Self-plagiarism is also referred to as 'recycling', 'duplication', or 'multiple submissions of research findings' without disclosure. In the student context, self-plagiarism includes re-using parts of, or all of, a body of work that has already been submitted for assessment without proper citation.

To see if you understand plagiarism, do this short quiz:


The University also regards cheating as a form of academic misconduct. Cheating is knowingly submitting the work of others as their own and includes contract cheating (work produced by an external agent or third party that is submitted under the pretences of being a student’s original piece of work). Cheating is not acceptable at UNSW.

If you need to revise or clarify any terms associated with academic integrity you should explore the 'Working with Academic Integrity' self-paced lessons available at:

For UNSW policies, penalties, and information to help you avoid plagiarism see: as well as the guidelines in the online ELISE tutorials for all new UNSW students: For information on student conduct see:

For information on how to acknowledge your sources and reference correctly, see: If you are unsure what referencing style to use in this course, you should ask the lecturer in charge.

Student Responsibilities and Conduct

​Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to university policies in relation to class attendance and general conduct and behaviour, including maintaining a safe, respectful environment; and to understand their obligations in relation to workload, assessment and keeping informed.

Information and policies on these topics can be found on the 'Managing your Program' website.


It is expected that you will spend at least ten to twelve hours per week studying for a course except for Summer Term courses which have a minimum weekly workload of twenty to twenty four hours. This time should be made up of reading, research, working on exercises and problems, online activities and attending classes. In periods where you need to complete assignments or prepare for examinations, the workload may be greater. Over-commitment has been a cause of failure for many students. You should take the required workload into account when planning how to balance study with employment and other activities.

We strongly encourage you to connect with your Moodle course websites in the first week of semester. Local and international research indicates that students who engage early and often with their course website are more likely to pass their course.

View more information on expected workload


Your regular and punctual attendance at lectures and seminars or in online learning activities is expected in this course. The Business School reserves the right to refuse final assessment to those students who attend less than 80% of scheduled classes where attendance and participation is required as part of the learning process (e.g., tutorials, flipped classroom sessions, seminars, labs, etc.).

View more information on attendance

General Conduct and Behaviour

You are expected to conduct yourself with consideration and respect for the needs of your fellow students and teaching staff. Conduct which unduly disrupts or interferes with a class, such as ringing or talking on mobile phones, is not acceptable and students may be asked to leave the class.

View more information on student conduct

Health and Safety

UNSW Policy requires each person to work safely and responsibly, in order to avoid personal injury and to protect the safety of others.

View more information on Health and Safety

Keeping Informed

You should take note of all announcements made in lectures, tutorials or on the course web site. From time to time, the University will send important announcements to your university e-mail address without providing you with a paper copy. You will be deemed to have received this information. It is also your responsibility to keep the University informed of all changes to your contact details.

Student Support and Resources

The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services and resources for students, including:

Business School Learning Support Tools
Business School provides support a wide range of free resources and services to help students in-class and out-of-class, as well as online. These include:

  • Academic Communication Essentials – A range of academic communication workshops, modules and resources to assist you in developing your academic communication skills.
  • Learning consultations – Meet learning consultants who have expertise in business studies, literacy, numeracy and statistics, writing, referencing, and researching at university level.
  • PASS classes – Study sessions facilitated by students who have previously and successfully completed the course.
  • Textbook access scheme – To support the inclusion and success of students from equity groups enrolled at UNSW Sydney in first year undergraduate Business programs.

The Nucleus - Business School Student Services team
The Nucleus Student Services team provides advice and direction on all aspects of enrolment and graduation. Level 2, Main Library, Kensington 02 8936 7005 /

Business School Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
The Business School Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee strives to ensure that every student is empowered to have equal access to education. The Business School provides a vibrant, safe, and equitable environment for education, research, and engagement that embraces diversity and treats all people with dignity and respect.

UNSW Learning & Careers Hub
The UNSW Learning & Careers Hub provides academic skills and careers support services—including workshops, individual consultations and a range of online resources—for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Student Support Advisors
Student Support Advisors work with all students to promote the development of skills needed to succeed at university, whilst also providing personal support throughout the process.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

International Student Support
The International Student Experience Unit (ISEU) is the first point of contact for international students. ISEU staff are always here to help with personalised advice and information about all aspects of university life and life in Australia.
Advisors can support you with your student visa, health and wellbeing, making friends, accommodation and academic performance.
02 9385 4734

Equitable Learning Services
Equitable Learning Services (formerly Disability Support Services) is a free and confidential service that provides practical support to ensure that your health condition doesn't adversely affect your studies. Register with the service to receive educational adjustments.
Ground Floor, John Goodsell Building.
02 9385 4734

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services
Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling.
Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 5418

Library services and facilities for students
The UNSW Library offers a range of collections, services and facilities both on-campus and online.
Main Library, F21.
02 9065 9444

Moodle eLearning Support
Moodle is the University’s learning management system. You should ensure that you log into Moodle regularly.
02 9385 3331

UNSW IT provides support and services for students such as password access, email services, wireless services and technical support.
UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor).
02 9385 1333

Support for Studying Online

The Business School and UNSW provide a wide range of tools, support and advice to help students achieve their online learning goals. 

The UNSW Guide to Online Study page provides guidance for students on how to make the most of online study.

We recognise that completing quizzes and exams online can be challenging for a number of reasons, including the possibility of technical glitches or lack of reliable internet. We recommend you review the Online Exam Preparation Checklist of things to prepare when sitting an online exam.