ACTL5100 Actuarial Theory and Practice A - 2020

Term 1
6 Units of Credit
On Campus
Risk & Actuarial Studies
The course outline is not available for current semester. To view outlines from other year and/or semesters visit the archives

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

​The Actuarial Theory & Practice courses develop the theory and practice underlying the actuarial management of financial institutions. The courses particularly cover applications in life, health and general insurance, superannuation and banking where actuaries are involved in product design, pricing, reserving, risk, investment and surplus management. The courses emphasise students’ ability to bring together what they have learnt in the undergraduate courses in order to make professional judgements.

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 courses consider the practical application of the concepts covered in the Foundation Program courses covered in the first 3 years actuarial courses at UNSW. The Actuarial Theory & Practice courses cover the Actuarial Control Cycle requirements of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia (Actuaries Institute). Students who obtain over a 75% average for these two courses will be recommended for exemption from the Actuarial Control Cycle.

The Actuaries Institute expects students “to develop a holistic approach to practical problem solving, and develop a level of judgement and professional skills required to successfully apply actuarial principles”.

The main aim of these courses is therefore to prepare students to take a professional approach to the actuarial management of a financial institution:

  • Product development and pricing
  • Valuation of assets and liabilities and the determination of capital
  • Application of the Actuarial Control Cycle to meet commercial and regulatory objectives
  • Enterprise risk management

There will be references to professionalism, ethics and the ability to make reasoned argument, throughout the course.

The undergraduate ACTL4001 and postgraduate ACTL5100 students attend the same lectures, but separate tutorials. The assessment is the same for both classes.

2. Staff Contact Details

Position Title Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Lecturer-in-chargeAProfAnthony AsherRoom 650, Business School building – Ref E12+61 2 9385 7619To be announced on Moodle

Communication with staff

Consultation times: To be announced on Moodle.

Written queries should be made in the discussion forums on Moodle so that all students can see the responses. There will be no response to subject related questions made by email.

3. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

Students are encouraged to become deep learners. As a deep learner, you would have taken responsibility for your own learning, and have chosen to become interested in the subject for its own sake rather than merely to pass the exams. You will be developing your own personal opinions on the subject, and will go on learning and thinking throughout life. Students may find it helpful to use the Biggs study process questionnaire on Moodle to understand the extent to which you are a deep learner.

There are many facts to learn about the context of actuarial work and these will be covered in the readings and in the lectures. Both readings and lectures will, however, also expose students to different opinions and you will be expected to develop your own views on the difficult and sometimes controversial questions that actuaries have to address in practice. In many cases, there are no right answers.

This could be described as a guided self-learning approach. The ultimate aim is for you to see yourself as a member of the actuarial (or related) profession and be able to apply your knowledge to new situations encountered in the financial sector.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

The strategy for the course involves:

  • Students prepare for lectures and tutorials by reading and thinking about the relevant material, and identifying issues they are uncertain of, for discussion in the class.
    1. An online weekly quiz highlights the main issues, provides immediate feedback on basic misunderstandings, and provides a discipline so that all students are prepared to contribute to tutorials and lectures.
    2. There is also a private weekly personal reflection to prompt consideration of the personal applications of the work covered.
  • Lectures highlight the main implications and controversies arising from the readings, accompanied by discussion where the class is expected to contribute and to provide feedback. There may also be small group discussions. There will be guest lecturers with significant experience in financial institutions to provide background knowledge on the operation of particular markets.
  • Tutorials involve debates or oral presentations, where the student is expected to research a topic and then engage in a relevant debate or develop a short presentation for their peers. This also allows for feedback on the students understanding, and discussion of the broader context of the issue addressed by the presentation.
  • A midterm examination gives practice at examinations, and a re-write exercise gives more detailed feedback on understanding, critical thinking and written communication.

The tutorials will include:

  • Student debates and presentations
  • Discussion
  • Comment by students on the personal reflection
  • Time for student questions and feedback from the tutor

The course textbooks, lectures and assessment tasks are designed to provide a framework for your learning. Every student has a different approach to learning. How much time you spend on reading in preparation for lectures, completing assessment tasks, reviewing course objectives, deepening your understanding and preparing for final examinations will depend on your learning approach. Summarising the readings and lectures and then structuring and editing your summaries is an important part of learning. Exam preparation should include doing past papers under exam conditions and reviewing your answers with a peer.

Experience suggests that students spending less than thirteen hours per week (including lectures and tutorials) are unlikely to obtain the exemption standard. Lectures and class discussions will cover the main concepts and issues, and will not necessarily cover all the details of the course readings or texts.

Your private study is the most important component of this course. Weekly readings, reviewing key concepts, and your own topic summaries should be considered as a basis of a regular private study regime. Keeping up to date is very important and each week builds on the prior week so it is important that you have your study regime organised early.

Given that the material builds on the threshold concepts that students should have learnt and digested from the Foundation courses, a summary of these concepts will be posted on Moodle and reviewed in the week 1 tutorials. Students who have not completed the relevant Foundation courses will need to work through these threshold concepts, as a proper appreciation is necessary for this course.

5. Course Resources

The required reading for this course is:

  • C Bellis, Richard Lyon, Stuart Klugman and John Shepherd, Understanding Actuarial Management, Institute of Actuaries, Second Edition, 2010 (UAM)
  • A Asher, Working Ethically in Finance: Clarifying our Vocation, Business Expert Press, 2015 (WEF)
  • Part I Threshold concepts

Students can order the textbooks on-line from the UNSW Bookshop –

Bellis et al. -

Asher –

Other papers and resources that are considered relevant will be available on Moodle.

The Moodle site for this course will contain the Course Outline, presentations made by lecturers, presentations made by students, and any notices relevant to this course. It is important that you visit the site regularly to see any notices posted there by the Lecturer-in-Charge – and are able to regularly read the emails sent by Moodle.

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.

Based on past feedback, presentations have morphed into debates and have reduced from two to one person per side to give more opportunity for interaction. This term will be trialing allocating each group to a mentor for the assignment.

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: Lecture

Introduction to the course and learning methods. The ACC and feedback. Sources of motivation.

  • UAM Chapter 1,19
  • WEF Part 1

See Moodle for latest timetable details - as lecture times and the material are subject to change.

Week 2: Lecture

General economic & commercial environment for financial institutions in Australia & professionalism

  • UAM Chapters 3, 5
  • WEF Chapters 4, 5
Week 3: Lecture

The General insurance industry & people’s needs for financial products

  • UAM Chapter 4
  • WEF Chapter 8, Part 3 introduction
Week 4: Lecture

Marketing, Product design and risks;

UAM Chapters 6, 8

WEF Chapter 6


Midsemester exam

All material from first 3 weeks

Midterm exam

Week 5: Guest lecture

The health insurance industry and some pricing theory

  • UAM Chapter 13
  • Anatomy of Health Insurance (Cutler et al: 1 - 10, 30 - 35, 61 - 66, 71 - 74)
Week 6: No Lecture

Flexibility week

Week 7: Lecture

Profit and the life insurance industry

UAM Chapter 16

WEF Chapter 8


Week 8: Lecture

The role of regulation in the financial sector

UAM Chapter 7 WEF Chapter 10

Week 9: Lecture

The Superannuation & funds management industries and fiduciary duties

Super in Australia (Wikipedia)

WEF Chapter 7

Group presentations

Week 10: Lecture

The banking industry - and interrelationships between pricing, capital, reinsurance policy conditions, underwriting, profits

UAM Chapters 11; (revise 13 & 16)

WEF Chapter 9

Group presentations

8. Policies and Support

Information about UNSW Business School protocols, University policies, student responsibilities and education quality and support.

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 Centre.

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 EQS Consultation Program
The Consultation Program offers academic writing, literacy and numeracy consultations, study skills, exam preparation for Business students. Services include workshops, online resources, individual and group consultations. 
Level 1, Room 1035, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 4508

Communication Resources
The Business School Communication and Academic Support programs provide online modules, communication workshops and additional online resources to assist you in developing your academic writing.

Business School Student Centre
The Business School Student Centre provides advice and direction on all aspects of admission, enrolment and graduation.
Level 1, Room 1028 in the Quadrangle Building
02 9385 3189

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 9385 2650

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

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