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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.

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 student 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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Start date
E.g., 15/07/2020
End date
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Events calendar

  • Current Issues in Life Assurance (CILA) Webinar series

    Webinar Series
    15 July 2020 - 3 August 2020

    Spaces available

    CILA is one of the pre-eminent events in the annual 'Life' calendar. Due to COVID-19 we are running the programme as a series of webinars covering topics aimed at practicing life actuaries from life offices, consulting firms and other employers of actuaries and those who work in or advise on, the life assurance market in the UK and Europe.

  • Spaces available

    Current Issues in Life Assurance - For annuity writers, a key challenge is the need to fund capital-consumptive new business strain (NBS) as a consequence of writing the business intended to fund future distributions. Reinsurance, investment strategy and capital provision all have roles to play which we will investigate in this webinar

  • Spaces available

    Current Issues in Life Assurance – Mortality in 2020 is now dominated by one thing, although – in our future-focused world – the pandemic is just one of many mortality considerations.  In this session, three well-regarded mortality/longevity specialists provide an overview of implications and impacts of COVID-19, recent and imminent CMI developments and more 'future focused' work in the MRSC

  • Spaces available

    Because of Covid-19, forecasters predict a severe recession in 2020, followed by a V or U-shaped recovery. This impacts both individuals and companies. However, compared to previous recessions, the impact on banks of higher credit losses should be mitigated to some extent by government actions. 

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series

    This session will provide an overview of the Population Health Management Working Party's research including defining impactability and impactability modelling, discussing some examples of specific modelling approaches, considering the practical challenges across the NHS as well as wider public perception and ethical issues.

  • Spaces available

    Many actuaries consider career opportunities in the Finance and Investment practice area after having started off in more traditional actuarial roles such as valuations, capital management or pricing. This session is aimed at helping actuaries to better understand roles in Finance and Investment and how they can fine tune their skills to pursue such careers.

  • Mortality and Longevity Webinar Series 2020

    Webinar Series
    22 July 2020 - 10 August 2020

    Spaces available

    Due to COVID-19, we are running this programme via a series of webinars commencing 22nd July.

    This webinar series will provide topical and practical updates and discussion on the latest thinking and innovations in mortality and longevity, and is designed to be very accessible to a broad range of experience.

     

  • Spaces available

    Insurers are making increasing use of medical research to help with assumption, models and underwriting. Experienced mortality/ longevity specialists discuss the issues in the interpretation of  medical research papers, using a range of case studies. The case studies will include COVID-19 points of current importance. Many of the concepts discussed (data bias, inference of causation) are also applicable to equivalent questions in 'big data' and advanced analytics.

  • Spaces available

    Members of the Mortality Working Group of the IAA have analysed changes in mortality for about 30 causes of death  and will discuss how causes of death are classified, and the problems of long-term data, appropriate metrics, including "years of life lost" (YLL), causes of death - a "measure of cohortness", the changes in dominant causes of death at older ages, and how can these types of studies enhance mortality forecasting.

  • Spaces available

    Predictive risk assessment and risk stratification models based on postcode-level consumer classification are widely used for life insurance underwriting. However, these are socio-economic models not directly related to health information. Similar to precision medicine, precision life insurance should aim to tailor policy pricing/reserving to the individual health characteristics of each client.

  • Spaces available

    This discussion, the fourth in the Extreme Mortality Events webinar series, will look at what poor model selection and calibration could look like – using inappropriate historical data; using incorrect 2020 mortality data; and inappropriate stochastic model recalibration (or lack thereof). Presented by Chair of the Life Board of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, Colin Dutkiewicz. 

  • Spaces available

    This webinar has been re-scheduled from its original date of the 1st July. Although ESG has many buyers across the asset allocation community, from pension funds to sovereign wealth funds, it still hasn’t found its place within the core asset management strategy desks where the money is actually invested. The problem as well as the opportunity is Fixed Income. Plenty of strategies exist for incorporating ESG within Equities, from screening, integration to a combination. ESG has picked up relatively quickly within Equities with rating,indices created using ESG factors. This talk will discuss how we price a quantifiable ESG credit risk premium and make it alpha worthy in a strategy. 

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series

    With the rising prevalence of dementia, how can we manage this risk effectively and can insurance do more? Matt Singleton, Ageing Lead at Swiss Re, will cover these topics and demonstrate how insurance could help people address their concerns.

  • Spaces available

    Current Issues in Life Assurance – Join us for an exploration session on the use of data science in insurance companies today including how insurers are making sense of and using new data sources and technologies, exploration of practical applications of data science within actuarial work, benefits of data-driven decisions to solve business problems using the power of data and technology, and the role that actuaries can play to harness the benefits of data science.

     

  • Spaces available

    Current Issues in Life Assurance

    This talk will look at a range of such techniques (e.g. mass lapse risk transfer, contract boundaries, risk margin relief, non-standard longevity risk transfer) that have been applied or considered by UK and EU insurers, and the pros and cons of each.

     

  • Spaces available

    Current Issues in Life Assurance.

    The International Association of Insurance Supervisors announced on 14 November 2019 the adoption of v2.0 of the global Insurance Capital Standard (ICS) which will undergo confidential reporting for 5 years starting from 2020. This session will include specific experiences from Legal and General (L&G) as well as global industry perspectives from EY.

  • Spaces available

    Current Issues in Life Assurance

    This session will cover the PRA supervisory statement on financial impacts related to climate change, industry insights into PRA climate risk business plans, examples climate risk strategy setting out key workstreams and activity steps for successful execution, an overview of a climate risk strategy execution timeline and the future.     

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series. Using new and unique research and data from the UK, US, Sweden and China, this presentation investigates how consumers use the internet through their insurance journey and analyzes the role culture and generation plays in their online behaviour. We use this research to show the online landscape for insurance sales in the UK and suggest ways to shape new products and effectively engage with the consumer who is buying them.

  • Spaces available

    Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Gen Re Life/Health Research and Development, Dr John O'Brien, will discuss the impacts of Gene Modification for life/health insurance. 

  • Spaces available

    As an industry, it has been important to be able to look to the future to identify the next quantifiable risk. In this session, I will explore some of the less tangible, but none-the-less concerning risks to future health, such as the health risks associated with exposure to pesticides, ingestion of plastic in the food chain, and the hazards of indoor air pollution through exposure to volatile organic compounds.

  • Spaces available

    The working party will help the industry to update and enhance how potential risk from diabetes and excess mortality is considered, including the need to understand the underwriting implications as treatments improve, and potentially to develop new products that are tailored to those with diabetes.

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series. Modelling the structure and trends of cancer morbidity risk is important for pricing and reserving in related health insurance fields such as critical illness insurance and care provision. We model the dynamics of cancer incidence over time in different regions in England, using 1981-2016 ONS data. The modelling allows estimation of cancer rates at various age, year, gender and region levels, following a Bayesian setting to account for statistical uncertainty. Our analysis indicates significant regional variation in cancer incidence rates. 

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series. In this talk we will outline the steps Aviva took in pulling together our first large-scale disclosures on the exposure of our business to climate change published in March 2019; in line with the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. After touching on why insurers have such an important role in climate change, we'll cover a brief “how-to” guide for those who have not yet embarked on thinking about these topics before giving a case study of how the learnings from a TCFD disclosure exercise can be applied to investment portfolios.

  • Spaces available

    Part of the Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020 webinar series. 

    The insurance industry currently underwrites customers with diabetes based on a range of factors, medical expertise and various medical studies. The work undertaken by the Diabetes Working Party would help the industry to approach this using current research findings to update and enhance how potential risk from diabetes is considered. This includes the need to understand the underwriting implications as treatments improve, and potentially to develop new products that are tailored to those with diabetes. This webinar will present our latest findings in the management of this important chronic condition which will include research in collaboration with the ARC.