Co-op structure

Co-op structure

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The Actuarial Co-op Program at Macquarie University is offered through the Bachelor of Actuarial Studies with the Bachelor of Professional Practice combined degree. 

The Bachelor of Professional Practice component of the Co-op Program provides a practice-based approach to learning in which students integrate their understanding from the workplace with their studies through reflective practices scaffolded throughout the curriculum. This supports their learning before, during and after placement.

What the combined degree offers

  • Work ready graduates - students are applying both discipline knowledge and professional practice skills in the workplace and reflecting on their experiences
  • Academic rigour - learning is demonstrated through reflection and assessments
  • Scaffolded and supported learning from first year - alternating between periods of study and periods of work offers students the chance to scaffold knowledge gained in the classroom to improve performance in the workplace, and apply workplace experience in the classroom to ensure classroom studies are professionally current and relevant

The Co-op Program at Macquarie University is offered through a Bachelor of Professional Practice combined with a standard degree. The Professional Practice degree adds one year to a standard three or four-year degree.

The Bachelor of Professional Practice component of the Co-op Program provides a program-based approach where students integrate their understanding from the workplace with their studies through reflective practices scaffolded throughout the curriculum. This supports their learning before, during and after placement.

Vocational Placements

Students alternate between classroom studies and workplace experience in the form of vocational placements, one of approximately three months and two placements up to six months over a four-year course. These workplace experiences offer opportunities for students to develop professional skills and networks and bring their practical experience back to the classroom to further enhance their studies. Students graduate with practical knowledge, strong professional networks and enhanced employability in their chosen field.

The table below gives an overview of the sequencing for vocational placements in the Actuarial Studies Co-op Program.

Year Summer Vacation (January-February) Session 1 Winter Vacation Session 2 Session 3 Summer Vacation (December)
1
Study
Study Vocational placement #1 (3 months: December-February)
2 Vocational Placement #1 contd. (3 months: December-February) Study
Study
3 Vocational Placement #2 (6 months: January-June) Vocational placement #3 (6 months: July-December)
4
Study
Study

Bachelor of Professional Practice curriculum

The Bachelor of Professional Practice consists of five units (27 credit points in total) taken over the course of the four-year Co-op program.

Year 1st year, Session 2 1st year, Session 3 3rd year, Session 1 3rd year, Session 2 4th year, Session 1
BPP Unit Code COOP101 COOP201 COOP301 COOP302 COOP499
BPP Unit Name Introduction to Professional Practice Professional Practice Placement 1Professional Practice Placement  Professional Practice Placement 3 Reflecting on Professional Practice
Delivery Classroom-based, career identity, professional expectations In coordination with 3 month placement In coordination with 6 month placement In coordination with 6 month placement Classroom-based, Capstone unit
Credit Points 3 cp 3 cp 9 cp 9 cp 3 cp

COOP101
This first unit in the Bachelor of Professional Practice program offers an introduction to professional practice. Students will have opportunities to develop fundamental workplace skills, including communication, teamwork, decision-making, networking and reflective practice. Students will reflect on their personal skills, attributes and abilities, engage in career planning and goal setting, and undertake organisation/industry/occupation exploration. The unit is designed to help students begin to explore their professional identity while preparing them to complete successful practical experiences in professional workplaces as they progress through their degrees.

COOP201
This unit, the second in the Bachelor of Professional Practice, offers an academic foundation for a stage 1 professional experience in a workplace. Students will further develop their professional communication skills, understanding of professional ethics and application of reflective practice. Students will explore and develop project management skills based on their experience in the workplace, including the use of technology to support project planning and management. Students will begin or continue work with their academic mentor, a peer support network or both.

COOP301
This unit provides curriculum support for students to scaffold their learning during an extended vocational placement. Students will further develop their skills in reflective practice and management of their professional self. Students will have opportunities to develop professional skills, such as self-efficacy, creativity and resilience. Students will explore themes in the unit, including the relationship between theory and practice and elements of active global citizenship. The unit draws on experiences in the workplace, seminars and learning through an online, modularised curriculum.

COOP302
This unit provides curriculum support for students to scaffold their learning during an extended vocational placement. Students will further develop their skills in reflective practice and management of their professional self. Students will have opportunities to develop professional skills, such as problem-solving, leadership and entrepreneurship. Students will explore themes in the unit, including workplace cultures, institutional values and professional codes of conduct. The unit draws on experiences in the workplace, seminars and learning through an online, modularised curriculum.

COOP499
This capstone unit provides students with opportunities to integrate and reflect on their workplace and classroom experiences throughout their degree. Students further develop their skills in reflective practice and management of their professional self. The unit offers opportunities to learn from their reflections on inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary experiences in the classroom and/or the workplace. The unit is designed to support students’ transitions to the next phase of their career and ongoing learning journey.

Student activities while on vocational placement at your organisation

The list below provides examples of activities that students might be able to contribute to while on vocational placement at your organisation:

  • Analysis of data in insurance, finance or other fields
  • Research to inform new product design
  • Financial modelling of complex transactions
  • Valuation of liabilities for insurance portfolios
  • Spreadsheet modelling, design and automation
  • Analysis and modelling of capital requirements
  • Audit of financial models in a variety of contexts
  • Investigation into the application of statistical methodology in the analysis of risk
  • Performance analysis and benchmarking
  • Asset liability modelling

Vocational placements - student knowledge and skills 

Students who enter the Co-op program in Actuarial Studies at Macquarie University will have demonstrated a very strong aptitude for academic studies with a minimum ATAR in the top 1.5% and likely to be in the top 1% of their school cohort. They will also have demonstrated abilities to communicate well, solve problems and work collaboratively both in academic and extracurricular contexts. In addition to enthusiasm for actuarial and statistical work, these students will demonstrate an interest in service and leadership. 

By the end of the first year of their degree, students will have studied units in Advanced Mathematics covering calculus and linear algebra. These two units build from the highest level of Mathematics available to students at High School and develop further their ability to solve problems with an analytical approach. Students also study a first year sequence in probability theory and statistical data analysis. These units cover ideas from hypothesis testing, sampling distributions and regression theory as well as developing their confidence in calculating probabilities in a range of complex scenarios. By the end of first year, students have taken a good first step in developing models to analyse risk, and they are beginning to use statistical software such as Minitab and Excel with confidence. In addition to a first year sequence in Macroeconomics and Microeconomics, they complete a first unit in Actuarial Studies where they develop applications of their mathematical, statistical and financial knowledge to problems involving risk and money including superannuation. In the second half of first year, Co-op students begin to prepare for professional practice by exploring and extending fundamental workplace skills, including communication, teamwork, decision-making, networking and reflective practice. 

In the summer between first and second year, students undertake their first vocational placement for Co-op. While completing the placement, students are enrolled in a Co-op unit to support skill development in areas such as professional communication, project management, professional ethics and reflective practice. By the end of second year, students will have studied two further units in Probability and Statistics. These units give students confidence in applying statistical and probabilistic models in practice and are quite rigorous in their structure. Students will also have studied advanced units in Mathematics of Finance and Contingent Payments. These two units develop students' ability to analyse uncertain future payments in a fairly sophisticated risk-modelling context. They apply models for the future lifetime of individuals and models for interest rates to analyse financial and statistical problems. Students in second year also take electives, which meet the general education type requirements of our Macquarie degrees. 

While on vocational placements throughout third year, students continue to develop their actuarial knowledge through enrolment in Actuarial Studies units that examine and explore the use of statistical models in the insurance context. They develop skills over the year in loss modelling, risk analysis, regression analysis and time series models. In addition, students are enrolled in Co-op units to scaffold their continued development of skills, such as self-efficacy, resilience, entrepreneurship and leadership, while exploring the relationship between theory and practice.

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