ACTL5100 Actuarial Theory and Practice A - 2018

Semester 1
6 Units of Credit
On Campus
Risk & Actuarial Studies

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 Part I courses. The Actuarial Theory & Practice courses, together with ACTL4303/ACTL5303 Asset and Liability Management cover the part II requirements of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia (Actuaries Institute). Students who obtain over 75% average for these three courses will be recommended for Part II exemption. This means that they can qualify for the actuarial designation after three years of appropriate practical experience, and the completion of a final professionalism course.

In Part II, 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 AsherBusiness School Building 650+61 2 9385 7619

Communication with staff

Consultation times: By appointment, or Tuesday from 16.00 - 17.00, but may be amended by notices on Moodle, which is where all details in respect of the courses can be found. 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. A 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 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 students are expected to contribute and to provide feedback where they find concepts difficult. 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 oral presentations, where the student is expected to research a topic and then develop a short presentation for their peers, followed by a response from another student and discussion by the class. This also allows for feedback, and discussion of the broader context of the issue addressed by the presentation.
  • A midsession examination to give practice at examinations, and a re-write exercise to give more detailed feedback on understanding, critical thinking and written communication.

The tutorials will include:

  • Student presentations
  • Discussion
  • Time for student questions and feedback from the lecturer

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. Experience suggests that students spending less than ten 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.

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)

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

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 Course and Teaching Evaluation and Improvement (CATEI) Process is one of the ways in which student evaluative feedback is gathered. In this course, we will seek your feedback through end of semester CATEI evaluations.

This semester, lectures have been adapted to make it clearer how each slide relates to the Syllabus. The presentations have been adapted to more closely resemble the mini-case studies asked in Institute exams.

7. Course Schedule

Week 1: 26 Feb



Introduction to the course and learning methods

  • UAM Chapter 1,19
  • WEF Part 1

Week 2: 05 Mar



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

  • UAM Chapters 3, 5
  • WEF Chapters 4, 5

Week 3: 12 Mar



The General insurance industry & people’s needs for financial products [Guest lecture]

  • UAM Chapter 4
  • WEF Chapter 8

Week 4: 19 Mar



The life insurance industry [Guest lecture from 6.15 to 7.15]


Midsemester exam [7.30 to 8.30]

No tutorials


Midsemester exam


All material from first 3 weeks


Midsemester exam [7.30 to 8.30]

Week 5: 26 Mar



The health insurance industry and some pricing theory [Guest lecture]

  • UAM Chapter 13
  • Anatomy of Health Insurance (Cutler et al: 1 - 10, 30 - 35, 61 - 66, 71 - 74)

Week 6: 09 Apr



The role of regulation in the financial sector [Guest lecture]

  • UAM Chapter 7
  • WEF Chapter 10

Week 7: 16 Apr



The banking industry and profit [Guest lecture]

  • UAM Chapter 16
  • WEF Chapter 9

Week 8: 23 Apr



Product development

  • UAM Chapter 8 WEF Part 3 introduction, Chapter 6

Week 9: 30 Apr



Features & risks of financial contracts & types of risks

  • UAM Chapters 2, 6
  • Kelliher et al

Week 10: 07 May



The Superannuation & funds management industries and fiduciary duties [Guest lecture]

  • Super in Australia (Wikipedia)
  • WEF Chapter 7

Week 11: 14 May



Interrelationships between pricing, capital, reinsurance policy conditions, underwriting, profits

  • UAM Chapters 11; 13; 16

Week 12: 21 May



Review and revision


Group presentations


Group Presentations

Week 13: 28 May

Group presentations


Group Presentations

8. Policies

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

Program Learning Goals and Outcomes

The Business School Program Learning Goals reflect what we want all students to BE or HAVE by the time they successfully complete their degree, regardless of their individual majors or specialisations. For example, we want all our graduates to HAVE a high level of business knowledge and a sound awareness of ethical, social, cultural and environmental implications of business. As well, we want all our graduates to BE effective problem-solvers, communicators and team participants.

You can demonstrate your achievement of these goals by the specific outcomes you achieve by the end of your degree (i.e. Program Learning Outcomes—henceforth PLOs). These PLOs articulate what you need to know and be able to do as a result of engaging in learning. They embody the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are identified, mapped, taught, practised and assessed within each Business School program.

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

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Undergraduate
  • Postgraduate Coursework
Knowledge You should be able to identify and apply disciplinary knowledge to business situations in a local and global environment.
Critical thinking and problem solving You should be able to identify and research issues in business situations, analyse the issues, and propose appropriate and well-justified solutions.
Written communication You should be able to prepare written documents that are clear, concise and coherent, using appropriate style and presentation for the intended audience, purpose and context.
Oral communication You should be able to prepare and deliver oral presentations that are clear, focussed, well-structured, and delivered in a professional manner.
Teamwork You should be able to participate collaboratively and responsibly in teams, and reflect on your own teamwork, and on the team’s processes and ability to achieve outcomes.
Ethical, social and environmental responsibility
  1. You should be able to identify and assess ethical, environmental and/or sustainability considerations in business decision-making and practice.
  2. You should be able to identify social and cultural implications of business.
Workplace skills (Co-op programs only) You should be able to conduct yourself in a professional manner in the work environment, communicate effectively in diverse workplace situations and be able to apply discipline knowledge and understanding to real business problems with initiative and self-direction.
Related PLO Documents View the Undergraduate Honours PLOs (pdf)
Knowledge You should be able to identify and apply current knowledge of disciplinary or interdisciplinary theory and professional practice to business in local and global environments.
Critical thinking and problem solving You should be able to identify, research and analyse complex issues and problems in business and/or management, and propose appropriate and well-justified solutions.
Written communication You should be able to produce written documents that communicate complex disciplinary ideas and information effectively for the intended audience and purpose.
Oral communication You should be able to produce oral presentations that communicate complex disciplinary ideas and information effectively for the intended audience and purpose.
Teamwork You should be able to participate collaboratively and responsibly in teams, and reflect on your own teamwork, and on the team’s processes and ability to achieve outcomes.
Ethical, social and environmental responsibility
  1. You should be able to identify and assess ethical, environmental and/or sustainability considerations in business decision-making and practice.
  2. You should be able to identify social and cultural implications of business.
Related PLO Documents View the Master of Philosophy PLOs (pdf)
View the Doctor of Philosophy PLOs (pdf)

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.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Knowledge
  • Oral communication
  • Research capability
  • Teamwork
  • Workplace skills
  • Written communication
Entrepreneurial leaders capable of initiating and embracing innovation and change, as well as engaging and enabling others to contribute to change
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Knowledge
  • Oral communication
  • Workplace skills
  • Written communication
Professionals capable of ethical, self- directed practice and independent lifelong learning
  • Ethical, social and environmental responsibility
  • Workplace skills
Global citizens who are culturally adept and capable of respecting diversity and acting in a socially just and responsible way.
  • Ethical, social and environmental responsibility
  • Oral communication
  • Written communication

The Business School strongly advises you to choose a range of courses that assist your development against these PLOs and graduate capabilities, and to keep a record of your achievements as part of your portfolio. You could use these records 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 nine to ten hours per week studying for a course except for Summer Term courses which have a minimum weekly workload of eighteen to twenty 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.

Special Consideration

You must submit all assignments and attend all examinations scheduled for your course. You can apply for special consideration when illness or other circumstances beyond your control, interfere with your performance in a specific assessment task or tasks. Special Consideration is primarily intended to provide you with an extra opportunity to demonstrate the level of performance of which you are capable.

General information on special consideration for undergraduate and postgraduate courses can be found in the Assessment Implementation Procedure and the Current Students page.

Please note the following:

  1. Applications will not be accepted by teaching staff. The lecturer-in-charge will be automatically notified when you lodge an online application for special consideration
  2. Decisions and recommendations are only made by lecturers-in-charge (or by the Faculty Panel in the case of final exam special considerations), not by tutors
  3. Applying for special consideration does not automatically mean that you will be granted a supplementary exam or other concession
  4. Special consideration requests do not allow lecturers-in-charge to award students additional marks

Business School Protocol on requests for Special Consideration

The lecturer-in-charge will need to be satisfied on each of the following before supporting a request for special consideration:

  1. Does the medical certificate contain all relevant information? For a medical certificate to be accepted, the degree of illness and its impact on the student must be stated by the medical practitioner (severe, moderate, mild). A certificate without this will not be valid. Students should also note that only medical certificates issued after physically visiting a registered medical practitioner will be accepted. Medical certificates submitted for Special Consideration should always be requested from a registered medical practitioner that you have seen at a medical practice. Certificates obtained online or via social media may be fraudulent and if relied upon could result in a breach of the UNSW Student Code.
  2. Has the student performed satisfactorily in the other assessment items? To understand what Satisfactory Performance means in this course, please refer to the 'Formal Requirements' section in Part A of your Course Outline

Special Consideration and the Final Exam in undergraduate and postgraduate courses

Applications for special consideration in relation to the final exam are considered by a Business School Faculty panel to which lecturers-in-charge provide their recommendations for each request. If the Faculty panel grants a special consideration request, this will entitle the student to sit a supplementary examination. No other form of consideration will be granted. The following procedures will apply:

  1. Supplementary exams will be scheduled centrally and will be held approximately two weeks after the formal examination period.

    Supplementary exams for Semester 1, 2018 will be held during the period 14 - 21 July, 2018. Students wishing to sit a supplementary exam will need to be available during this period.

    The date for all Business School supplementary exams for Summer Term 2017/2018 is Wednesday, 21 February, 2018. If a student lodges a special consideration for the final exam, they are stating they will be available on this date. Supplementary exams will not be held at any other time.

  2. Where a student is granted a supplementary examination as a result of a request for special consideration, the student’s original exam (if completed) will be ignored and only the mark achieved in the supplementary examination will count towards the final grade. Absence from a supplementary exam without prior notification does not entitle the student to have the original exam paper marked, and may result in a zero mark for the final exam.

The Supplementary Exam Protocol for Business School students is available at:

For special consideration for assessments other than the final exam refer to the ‘Assessment Section’ in your course outline.

Protocol for Viewing Final Exam Scripts

The UNSW Business School has set a protocol under which students may view their final exam script. Please check the protocol here.

Given individual schools within the Faculty may set up a local process for viewing final exam scripts, it is important that you check with your School whether they have any additional information on this process. Please note that this information might also be included in your course outline.

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

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 Centre
The UNSW Learning Centre provides academic skills support services, including workshops and resources, for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Educational Support Service
Educational 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. Check their website to request an appointment or to register in the Academic Success Program.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

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

Disability Support Services
UNSW Disability Support Services provides assistance to students who are trying to manage the demands of university as well as a health condition, learning disability or who have personal circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. Disability Advisers can arrange to put in place services and educational adjustments to make things more manageable so that students are able to complete their course requirements. To receive educational adjustments for disability support, students must first register with Disability Services.
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

Search Degrees

Find a degree or course