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Institute & Faculty of Actuaries examinations - Guidance for new learners

Curriculum 2019


The Core Principles subjects (made up of the Actuarial Statistics (CS), Actuarial Mathematics (CM), and Core Business (CB) modules) in the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries' (IFoA's) professional exams provide an initial grounding in many of the key principles and concepts required in actuarial work. These principles and concepts are developed in the later IFoA exams.

It is a requirement that students pass or obtain exemptions from all of the Core Principles subjects on the way to qualifying as an Associate or Fellow of the IFoA.

The Core Principles exams can be attempted in any order, and there is no requirement to pass any exam before sitting another. However it can be useful for students to pass certain Core Principles exams before others. Further information on an appropriate order for students to sit the Core Principles exams is provided within this document.

CS1 – Actuarial Statistics 1

This subject provides a grounding in the basics of statistical techniques that are of particular relevance to actuarial work, including features of statistical distributions, data analysis, statistical inference, regression theory and applications, and Bayesian statistics.

CS2 – Actuarial Statistics 2

This subject provides a grounding in statistical modelling techniques that are of particular relevance to actuarial work, including using statistical distributions for risk modelling, time series models, stochastic processes, survival models and machine learning.

It is useful, but not mandatory, to have studied subject CS1 before studying CS2, as this subject assumes competence with the basic statistical techniques covered in CS1.

CM1 – Actuarial Mathematics 1

This subject provides a grounding in the principles of mathematics and modelling as applied to actuarial work, focusing particularly on deterministic models which can be used to model and value known cashflows as well as those which are dependent on death, survival, or other uncertain risks.  It introduces the theory of interest rates, the basic types of life and health insurance contracts and the concepts of pricing and reserving.

It is useful, but not mandatory, to have studied subject CS1 before studying CM1, as this introduces techniques that are drawn upon and used in this subject.

CM2 – Actuarial Mathematics 2

This subject provides a further grounding in the principles of mathematics and modelling as applied to actuarial work, focusing on stochastic asset-liability models and the valuation of financial derivatives.  It also includes theories on the behaviour of financial markets and different measures of investment risk.

It is useful, but not mandatory, to have studied subjects CS1, CS2, CM1 and CB2 before studying CM2, as these introduce techniques that are drawn upon and used in this subject.

CB1 – Business Finance

This subject provides a basic understanding of corporate finance, including a knowledge of the instruments used by companies to raise finance and manage financial risk.  It also provides the ability to interpret the accounts and financial statements of companies and financial institutions.

It is useful, but not mandatory, to have studied subject CM1 before studying CB1, in order to obtain a basic understanding of interest rates.

This subject is closely linked to subjects CB2 and CB3.

CB2 – Business Economics

This subject provides an introduction to the core economic principles and how these can be used in a business environment to help decision making and behaviour.  It provides a grounding in the fundamental concepts of microeconomics that explain how economic agents make decisions and how these decisions interact.  It also provides a grounding in the principles underlying macroeconomics that explain how the economic system works, where it fails and how decisions taken by economic agents affect the economic system. 

This subject is closely linked to subjects CB1 and CB3.

CB3 – Business Management

This subject provides an understanding of the wider business content in which actuaries operate, including consideration of relevant case studies.  It includes consideration of business strategy, competition, culture, values and behaviour, change management, leadership and team-working.

This subject is closely linked to subjects CB1 and CB2

Later IFoA Exams

The relationship between the Core Principles exams and the other IFoA exams is briefly set out below.

The Core Practice (CP) subjects assume knowledge and understanding across all the Core Principles (CS, CM, CB) subjects, as they build upon the principles and concepts developed there.

The Specialist Principles (SP) subjects and the Specialist Advanced (SA) subjects use the concepts developed in the CS, CM, CB and CP subjects to solve complex problems, to produce coherent advice and to make recommendations in specific practice areas.

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Contact Details

Education Services Team

Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, 1st Floor, Park Central, 40/41 Park End Street, Oxford, OX1 1JD

+44 01865 268207

We aim to respond to all enquiries within two working days.

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Events calendar

  • Webinar Series: Risk and Investment Conference 2019, 26 June

    These are online webinar events.
    26 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The IFoA’s Risk Management and Finance and Investment Boards are delighted to host a series of webinars covering a range of topical and trending topics ranging from climate related risks to Brexit.

  • AGM and Presidential Address 2019 + Volunteer and Member Drinks Reception

    The Hub  Castlehill Edinburgh EH1 2NE
    26 June 2019

    Spaces available

    Notice is hereby given that the ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the INSTITUTE AND FACULTY OF ACTUARIES will be held at The Hub, Edinburgh on Wednesday 26 June 2019 at 16.30 (Preceded by tea from 16.00) and followed by a PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS given by John Taylor.

  • IFAM event - Actuarial Teachers’ & Researchers’ Conference 2019

    Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics Department of Mathematical  Sciences The University of Liverpool Mathematical Sciences Building Peach Street Liverpool, L69 7ZL
    27 June 2019 - 29 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics (IFAM) at the University of Liverpool is pleased to host the 2019 Actuarial Teachers’ and Researchers’ Conference from 27-28 June 2019. This annual two-day event has been running annually now for many years, each time hosted by a different university, and provides all those interested in actuarial research and education a great opportunity to share their ideas and catch up on the latest developments.

  • IFoA/ASM Joint Professional Skills Training – Kuala Lumpur

    Menara AIA, Auditorium, 99 Jalan Ampang, 50450, Kuala Lumpur
    28 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) are organising a joint Professional Skills Training (PST) in Kuala Lumpur. This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Life, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • SIAS: The Impact of Air Pollution on Health and Life Expectancy

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    2 July 2019

    Spaces available

    Air pollution has gained increasing attention lately. Nicola Oliver, head of longevity and mortality research for Medical Intelligence, will discuss not only the impacts of air pollution on health and life expectancy but also how as an industry we should be addressing it.

  • Spaces available

    The actuarial profession has much to offer the world of banking. In this webinar actuaries with experience in various fields of banking will talk about the opportunities there are in banking; describing the actuarial aspects of the work they do as well as other roles within their area of banking.

  • Implications of 2019 IFRS 17 Exposure Draft

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    24 July 2019

    Spaces available

    Towards the end of June, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is expected to publish an Exposure Draft (ED) of limited changes to its insurance contracts standard IFRS 17, effective date 2022. To help IFoA members, the IFoA’s cross-practice Financial Reporting Group (FRG) is hosting an event at Staple Inn covering these developments. 

    For more information on the FRG please visit this webpage

  • KSS event – The Regulatory Perspective

    Deloitte Saltire Court 20 Castle Terrace Edinburgh EH1 2EG
    5 September 2019

    Spaces available

    This KSS talk, presented by the FCA Head of Department in Scotland, will focus on the following 3 main areas:

    • FCA business plan priorities
    • The future of regulation
    • FCA Engagement in Scotland
  • Sessional Research Event - Risk Margin Working Party

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London, WC1V 7QJ
    9 September 2019

    Spaces available

    For life insurers in the UK, the risk margin is one of the most controversial aspects of the Solvency II regime. Following its implementation, the risk margin came under considerable criticism for being too large and too sensitive to interest rate movements. These criticisms are particularly valid for annuity business – such business is of great significance to the national system for retirement provision. This criticism has led to political interest, and the risk margin was a major element of the Treasury Committee inquiry into Solvency II.

  • GIRO Conference 2019

    EICC, The Exchange, 150 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8EE
    24-26 September 2019
    Spaces available

    GIRO is attended annually by over 800 delegates and speakers who are keen to discuss key topics such as Pricing, Reserving, Modelling and the future of the insurance industry. GIRO 2018 was a huge success and we have opened bookings early for what we hope will be another brilliant conference at the EICC in Edinburgh this year. 


  • Life Conference 2019

    The Convention Centre Dublin, Spencer Dock, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1
    20-22 November 2019
    Spaces available

    The Life Conference is the premier event for professionals interested in life insurance.  Offering a wide range of workshops and plenary sessions it’s the perfect opportunity to discover what’s hot and current in life insurance ensuring you get up to date on the latest thinking and innovation whilst meeting and exchanging ideas with a broad range of professionals.

  • Autumn Lecture 2019, London - Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP

    Lincoln's Inn The Treasury Office, London WC2A 3TL
    2 December 2019

    Spaces available

    The IFoA is pleased to announce that this year’s Autumn Lecture will feature the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP as its guest speaker.  Nicky has previously served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women. She now chairs the Treasury Select Committee whose remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of HM Treasury, along with all of its agencies and associated bodies.