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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Risk and Actuarial Studies

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Entry requirements
  • How to apply
  • Student experience
  • FAQs

Why choose this research degree?

  • Make an original and significant contribution to knowledge in actuarial science, risk management or pensions research
  • Produce a high quality thesis under the supervision of a qualified member of academic staff
  • Complete courses drawn from different schools  within the UNSW Business School and other faculties for an interdisciplinary approach to research
  • Access the very latest business research and learn from high profile academics
  • Be part of the Business School’s vibrant, globally recognised research community
  • Opportunity to be published in a leading international journal

Who is this degree for?

  • Graduates with excellent results  in their undergraduate honours degree
  • Postgraduates with excellent results in their masters by research degree 
  • Those with an academic background in economics, banking, finance, mathematics, statistics or actuarial science

Job and career prospects

  • Academic and research positions in Australia or overseas
  • Professional actuarial, risk management or consultant positions
  • Research intensive positions in the public sector

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Risk and Actuarial Studies consists of one core course, five elective courses and a thesis. The research thesis must demonstrate a significant and original contribution to knowledge in the field of study.


Study one compulsory core course

ACTL5003 Research Methods in Risk and Actuarial Studies

This course is an advanced course in actuarial science covering selected topics in the areas of actuarial modelling in insurance risk, life insurance, superannuation and financial economics. The course will involve the study and discussion of current research papers and advanced texts of interest to research students. As part of the course, students will learn to develop a research topic, apply the methodology of scientific research and gain exposure to the presentation of research in actuarial journals.

Enrolment requires school approval.

Then choose from*

*Course selection in consultation with supervisor or postgraduate research coordinator.

ACTL5301 Models for Risk Management

This course explores quantitative methods of risk measurement and modelling in financial institutions, including insurers, reinsurers, superannuation funds, and banks, and the major types of risks encountered therein. Topics covered include: risk measures; multivariate models for risks; copulas and dependence models; extreme value theory and tails of losses; time series techniques. The links between the different modelling tools are explored, and are further illustrated with models used in different risk types. Together with ACTL5302 it is designed to cover the course topics for the professional actuarial Enterprise Risk Management/ CERA qualification.

ACTL5302 Risk and Capital Management

This course covers the motivations and techniques for risk and capital management in financial institutions, including insurers, reinsurers, superannuation funds, and banks and the major types of risks encountered. Topics covered include: economic and regulatory capital; regulatory frameworks for banks and insurers; quantitative and qualitative issues of measuring and management of market risk, credit risk, interest rate risk, operational risk, liquidity risk and model risk, with particular emphasis on data issues met when quantifying those risks; scenario analysis and stress testing methods.

Together with ACTL5301 it is designed to cover the course topics for the professional actuarial Enterprise Risk Management / CERA qualification.

ACTL5303 Asset-Liability Management

This course covers the knowledge, skills and judgement necessary to understand investment and asset liability modelling with an emphasis on practical issues. It covers the design and monitoring of investment strategies for a range of liability profiles including life insurance, general insurance and superannuation funds. There is an emphasis on investment and asset issues of relevance for the management of liabilities. The course has been designed to cover the International Actuarial Association syllabus covering Investments and Asset Analysis and the Institute of Actuaries of Australia Investments professional syllabus.

Enrolment requires school approval.

ECON5114 Superannuation and Retirement Benefits

This course provides a comprehensive analysis of superannuation and retirement benefits, primarily in Australia. Topics include: alternative superannuation arrangements, taxation and regulation of superannuation, risk management and investment strategies for superannuation, design of retirement benefits, the retirement decision, policy developments and controversies and international comparisons.

  • A four year undergraduate degree with honours class IIA or higher in a related discipline; or
  • A strong masters by research degree in a related discipline; or
  • An equivalent academic qualification or level of experience

English language requirements also apply

Information on how to apply for this degree is available at How to apply for a research degree.

We know you're busy balancing postgraduate study with your personal and other work commitments. So UNSW Business School's dynamic learning spaces, facilities and student support helps you make the most of every day on campus.

Expand your professional network

Your postgraduate cohort is more than a valuable future business network – you'll make lifelong friends in class and at a range of social events. Join a student club – there are more than 180 social, cultural, sports and professional clubs to choose from. The Graduate Student Association is a great place to start.  Find out more

All the support you need to achieve

If it has been a while since you last studied, you may need to brush up on your skills. We'll help with study skills workshops and Career Mentoring programs. Our Meet the Executive series offers unique behind the scenes business insights and the Business School's LEAD Business Leadership program, as well as many other orientation, leadership and mentor programs, can open the door to new opportunities. Find out more

Stay active on campus

Exercise boosts your mental wellbeing and can help you deal with exam or assignment pressures. It's easy to stay fit with state of the art sporting facilities on campus, including a 50m indoor pool, fitness centre, squash courts and a range of competitive sports teams.

Everything you need in one place

The UNSW Kensington campus is like a village hub, with cafes, bars, banks, a post office, medical and dental centres as well as retail outlets. It's a short bus trip to Sydney's CBD, many beautiful beaches, the SCG and Centennial Park, and movie theatres at Fox Studios.

Make the most of every opportunity

Your postgraduate degree is a unique chance to get a new perspective on life. So get involved – as well as student clubs and social activities there are internships, volunteer projects, competitions and international exchanges on offer. It's a great way to further develop your leadership, project management or specialist skills.

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Quick facts for students

Program code
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Assumed Knowledge
Actuarial Studies, Research experience
Study Mode
Face to face
Full-time 3-4 years; Part-time 5-8 years
Commencing semesters
Semester 1 - March
Semester 2 - July

​​​​​​​​Research Study Options

Browse the list of study options available for research students


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Search Degrees​​

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