My Eighth Term – OurWarwick

My Eighth Term

So here I am back for my eighth term. Scary to think how fast it has gone and how much we’ve covered in a short space of time. So starting with some fantastic news. I have just been offered an internship working in the actuarial industry in Leeds. A fantastic opportunity and it’s great to have something for summer so early in the year. This gives me a great opportunity to focus on my studies and not being concerned about applying for and attending interviews; something a lot of my friends are having to do. I was fortunate in the fact that I applied to a company who responds fast. Often they respond to internship candidates a lot later than graduates so all of the firms come back to you around this time of year.

So I came back to two exams: one was on "Mathematics of Random Events" and one "Actuarial Methods." The second is an introductory Actuarial module that leads to an exemption from a professional actuarial examination. Obviously handy if I’ll be working in the actuarial field! We had already done 45% of the module in class tests so I was quite prepared having worked on those last term. It was very similar to A-levels as it was mainly calculations based around financial derivatives such as bonds and annuities; basically loans to the government and a payment stream for a certain number of years. These are the bread and butter of actuarial work especially in pensions as pension funds are the biggest lender to governments and a pension is a type of annuity. So as a pension fund you would have to ensure you have the assets (cash to hand) to meet your liabilities (what’s being paid out to your members). To grow the wealth that pension funds get from their contributions they often invest in bonds. This is because they are the safest financial asset and provide a guaranteed return. About 40% of bonds are bought by these funds although this number has shrunk recently due to Quantitative Easing which has reduced the return on investment. As the Bank of England is printing more money by purchasing government bonds – controversial in certain economic thinking. A very clever monetary policy tactic that is being repeated right across Europe and the US but has meant pension funds having to take more risks to provide returns for their members.

The other examination was based on Measure Theory which I spoke about in a previous blog. Basically Measure Theory is the bread and butter of mathematics and takes an axiomatic approach to producing functions from sets. I appreciate you may not have seen this before so a set is a collection of numbers (called elements). So the functions you have seen normally take one number in your domain to a real number in the range. This is exactly what a measure does but it can take a range of numbers say 0 to 1. So you can imagine it like an integral of a number with the set being the limits of your integral. Often measures are integrals. From there you can build a definition of function theory that is the basis of mathematics and probability. It’s great to study something like this on an undergraduate course; as far as I am aware other than Cambridge, Warwick is the only university to teach measure theory at undergraduate level. From a paper I read they don’t even teach Measure Theory until postgraduate level at places like MIT. The exam had a probability focus which is where as a MORSE student you spend the majority of your time focussing. It was quite a nice paper but I had spent the majority of my time revising it.

So it’s been a good start to the term so far with an internship and exams over. I’ll have to do a blog discussing my modules this term when I’ve learnt a little bit more! Looking forward to the next few weeks I am going to see a few bands in Birmingham this Tuesday, it’s two of my friend’s birthdays next weekend and next Monday I am going to an open-MIC poetry night. As always feel free to ask questions below!

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