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Certificate in Data Science – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General

Will the Certificate in Date Science be postponed or delayed as a result of COVID-19?

We are not anticipating a delay or postponement to the Certificate in Data Science launch on 30 April.  At this time we are working closely with the Southampton Data Science Academy (SDSA) and are on track with the materials for the programme. As the programme is delivered entirely on line and tutors are also working remotely this has currently been a positive.

What if I need to delay my application as a result of COVID-19?

Should you become unwell either before or during the programme SDSA there is information in the Candidate information Pack.

What if I need to cancel my booking?

We have cancellation arrangements in place information is contained in our Refund Leaflet.

Are there any entry requirements for the programme?

No there are no requirements. You must be an IFoA member, with a good knowledge of statistical techniques. A qualified actuary, or a student who has completed CS1 or CS2 will be able to manage the content adequately.

Will the certificate be available to IFoA Non-members?

No, we are only making the certificate available to IFoA members at this time.

Do I need to be able to programme or have an understanding of a programme language?

No there is no requirement to have any knowledge. Those who are following the new IFoA syllabus will be familiar with ‘R’ and the course will introduce you to Python. There are some ‘additional’ resources available to participants, who would like to try some programming, but this is not a compulsory component of the course.

What are the IT equipment that I will require?

SDSA have provided a Candidate information Pack and page 4 specifically deals with IT requirements.

If I am a student member and progressing with my actuarial examinations to associate and fellowship, will the certificate give me any exemptions?

No it will not. The Certificate is part of the Lifelong Learning offering and sits outside the qualification structure. It is designed to enhance your skillset, both personally and in your broader career development.

Will the Certificate allow me to call myself a Data Scientist?

No. the certificate has not been designed to create data scientists. This will require further study. It has been designed to help actuaries, at whatever stage of their career to gain a basic understanding of data science tools and techniques, and how they can be applied, through examples and case studies to actuarial practice.

I can see that some of the other Actuarial Associations are offering data science/data analytics as part of their offering. Can I gain exemptions from any of these if I complete the IFoA certificate?

No, there are no plans to offer exemptions against any other programme in this way.

Is the Certificate available to CAA Analysts?

Yes providing you have qualified as a CAA Analyst and joined the IFoA you can apply for the certificate in data science.

Will there be any bursaries or scholarships available?

Neither the IFoA or SDSA will be offering bursaries or scholarships, although those in employment may be able to draw down on career/development loans to support their learning if these are offered.


Programme Structure

How has the programme been structured?

The programme takes 10 weeks to complete. Eight of these weeks are programme content delivered and 2 weeks are allocated for the final assessment. There are defined start and finish dates and the course progresses through a number of modules.

How flexible is the course? Can I ‘jump on’ and jump off’ when I like?

No this will not be possible. Once you commit to a particular programme you will need to complete it in the timelines. There is a set start and end date.  Module materials are released on a weekly basis to provide coherence and structure to the programme. That does not mean that a module has to be complete in one week. We recognise that this might not always be possible. There are clear guidelines for those who need to take time out for specific reasons and these will be contained in the Candidate Information pack

Will I have access to tutor support during the programme?

Yes while this is a distance learning programme, it is supported throughout by qualified academic staff. You will have access to staff at set points in the programme. There is a 1:1 tutorial once you submitted your first assignment at which you will be given feedback before you begin your second assignment. There will also be access to group tutorials with an option to ‘purchase’ additional support if you require it.

Will I have to take an examination to pass the certificate?

No there are no examinations, but there are 3 assessments, which will be in an essay style format during the programme. You will need to gain an average of 65% to secure a pass.


Programme Content

How has the actuarial content been sourced?

There has been a considerable amount of discussion with the actuarial community drawing upon the data science member interest group, industry and the academic community. Invitations were sent out to members to write case studies and provide examples of where data science techniques have/are being applied to actuarial work across all the traditional areas as well as industries where actuaries are employed more widely. These have all been peer reviewed and together with educational technologists at SDSA, have been incorporated into the programme.


Assessments

How is the programme assessed?

There are no formal written examinations. Participants will be required to submit and pass three assessments (an essay and report format) which are spaced out throughout the programme. The third and final assessment is undertaken once the formal learning has been completed and individuals have 2 weeks in which to complete and submit this. These assessments are marked and participants will receive feedback on each. In addition to this written feedback individuals will be entitled to a 1 to 1 tutorial with a tutor to discuss the results of their first assignment.

Is the programme graded?

Individuals will gain a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ grade only. In order to pass you must achieve an overall score of 65% across the three assessments.

Will any of the assessments require the writing of code?

No this is not a requirement of the programme.

If in completing any of my assignments, and in particular the final project, I use material which may be classified as 'commercially sensitive/confidential', how will SDSA manage this?

SDSA are very familiar with managing these sorts of issues especially as they run many company specific programmes where this is often an issue. Programme participants can indicate at an early stage that the contents are ‘confidential’ and state for how long the work is accessible to the SDSA Tutor and Moderator. SDSA will then store the document in a password protected secure server with access by the Senior Tutor and the Moderator only.


Certification

Will I get a formal certificate when I have completed the programme?

Providing you pass the programme, you will be issued a certificate jointly awarded by the IFoA and Southampton data Science Academy (SDSA). The IFoA will be notified of all passes and failures and these will be added to your IFoA record.

What happens if I fail the programme?

You will be issued with a certificate of attendance only and this is different to the Certificate in Data Science jointly awarded by the IFoA/SDSA.

I have already completed a course in data science. Will the IFoA recognise this and credit me with the IFoA certificate in data science?

No there are no plans to grant an accreditation of prior learning in this way.


Employers

Will there be a bulk discount for employers who want to put a number of their employees through the programme?

No, not at this stage. This is an individual application process only.

Would we be prepared to offer a bespoke course to employers?

At this stage we have a single contract with SDSA, which has a finite number of places. We do not envisage delivering company specific programmes.


Post Course

Once I have completed the course are there any CPD requirements?

You will be required to demonstrate ‘currency’ in data science once you have completed the certificate. This will normally be through your CPD obligations, and we would suggest that some of your 15 hours (we would recommend 2hrs) should be dedicated to maintaining your level of competency in data science.

Will there be any post-nominal letters once I complete and pass the course?

No there will not be post nominal letters, but you will be able to refer to the course.

Will the Certificate be recognised by employers?

The certificate will show a level of competence in data science and with time it will be recognised more widely. It has credibility in the marketplace because of the partnership between the Southampton Data Science Academy and the IFoA, two leading globally recognised bodies in their own right. You will be able to use the certification on your CV and to enhance your transferable skills.

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Events calendar

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    Climate-Related Risk - This free to view webinar on Climate-Related Risk is the first in a series focusing on some of the ‘Hotspots’ identified in the JFAR Risk Perspective bringing the Risk Perspective to life with practical illustrations and insights from subject experts from the IFoA and other Regulators

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  • Actuarial Innovation in the COVID-19 era

    This event is online. 
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    28 April 2021

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    IFoA Immediate Past President John Taylor would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual Europe Town Hall, hosted by John Taylor with IFoA Council Members Alan Rae, Jennifer Hartley, Maribel Vasquez Flores and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.

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    Available to watch globally in May.
    10-12 May 2021
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    This year's Finance and Investment Virtual Conference takes on the timely theme of ‘resilience’, something we have all learnt a lot more about in the last year! Our diverse range of talks will explore the theme of resilience in a variety of ways including in building robust investment portfolios, in the incorporation of ESG factors, in govern

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    Join us for this talk with Professor Sir Adrian Smith as part of the 'Dr Patrick Poon Presidential Speaker Series'. Professor Smith joined The Alan Turing Institute as Institute Director and Chief Executive in September 2018. In November 2020, he became President of the Royal Society, in addition to his leadership of the Turing. He is also a member of the government's AI Council, which helps boost AI growth in the UK and promote its adoption and ethical use in businesses and organisations across the country. He received a knighthood in the 2011 New Year Honours list.

     

  • CILA 2021

    Available to watch globally in May.
    19-21 May 2021
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    We continue to live in a world of global uncertainty. Survival depends on our ability to simultaneously navigate through the diverse root-causes, ranging from: the consequences of Climate Change; on-going financial consequences of the COVID pandemic; or self-imposed changes in regulatory requirements and accounting standards.

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    Welcome to the programme for our 2nd Virtual Pensions Conference. This year's conference features 11 webinars offering members and non-members the opportunity to get up to date content from leading experts in the pension industry. There will also be opportunity to ask questions and contribute to the discussion.