Behavioural economics applies psychological insights into human behaviour to explain how real people make economic decisions.
Who is it for?
The course is suitable for recent graduates in economics, psychology and related social science or quantitative disciplines who are looking to develop a career in the fast-paced world of behavioural economics, either in the public or private sector.
As the course is offered in full-time and part-time modes, it is also suited to professionals who want to enhance their theoretical knowledge and practical skills and would benefit from an academic environment.
Behavioural economics applies psychological insights into human behaviour to investigate how people make economic decisions under various conditions of constraint (e.g. time and knowledge) and influence (e.g. social pressure). This is an important field in modern economics, and the social sciences more generally.
Commercial organisations have long known the limitations of individual decision making and they routinely use this knowledge in their commercial practices (e.g. anchoring effect of minimum payment on credit cards). The practical implications of behavioural economics are varied and significant, and acknowledged to provide a powerful and cost-effective approach to improving human welfare.
The Behavioural Economics MSc will develop your skills and knowledge to prepare you for a wide variety of roles in the private or public sector that require a solid understanding of human behaviour.
Teaching and learning
The modules are taught by lecturers from the economics and psychology department with research interests in behavioural economics.
In each module you will receive typically 30 hours of face-to-face contact, supported by online resources (e.g., videos and advanced readings provided on the learning platform Moodle) for your self-directed study. You will be required to take responsibility for your own learning and to take advantage of the learning opportunities offered (e.g., invited speakers programme and online resources). The learning and teaching strategies for each module will expose you to a range of methods, comprising: lectures, guest lectures, seminars, group work, workshops, small group discussions, tutorials, reflective reports and research project supervision.
In order to assess your full range of learning, you will complete reflective reports, essays, examinations, interpretation of statistical analyses, formal research proposals and a research dissertation. Most individual modules are assessed by a combination of coursework and examinations. In addition, you will be directed to independent study and receive detailed feedback on your coursework as an aid to your further learning. These different forms of assessment have the aim of assessing your knowledge, skills and appreciation in different areas of behavioural economics (e.g., theoretical knowledge and applied aspects of behavioural techniques).
Full-time students take four modules in each of the first two terms, followed by a written research dissertation in the third term.
Most of the modules are structured as a combination of two-hour lectures (to present information) and one-hour seminars or clinics (to understand and assimilate lecture material) or lab sessions. Teaching and learning is enhanced by technology-supported resources, and teaching staff are available for one-to-one interaction and feedback.
It is expected that full-time students will spend about three hours in lectures/seminars plus self-directed, independent study hours for each module per week. You should also expect to attend seminars given by invited speakers and seminars on dissertation writing (about one to two hours per week).
Your workload might vary from week to week.
Term 1 -Principles of Economics -Cognitive and Economic Science of Rational Choice -Psychological Processes: Individual and Social -Behavioural Research Methods: Design and Analysis
Term 2 -Experimental Economics and Game Theory -Fundamentals of Cognitive Science -Applied Econometric and Psychological Research Methods -Professional Aspects of Behavioural Economics
Term 3 -Research Dissertation Students with a strong background in Economics may substitute 'Principles of Economics' with a microeconomics module from one of the MSc programmes offered by the Department of Economics. You may also substitute an appropriate elective from one of the MSc modules offered by the Department of Economics for 'Professional Aspects of Behavioural Economics' - this will allow a pathway through the programme that is focused on theoretical and research economic themes.
Whilst there is not yet a specific occupation of 'behavioural economist', the knowledge and skills acquired are highly valuable in a range of sectors: -Economic consultants undertaking marketing activities -Health economics consultants developing sales/markets for products (from branded medicines to health insurance schemes) -Public policy specialist who advises on the choice architecture of decision making (e.g., transport decisions) -Political campaigns and public relations more generally -General marketing, sales and consumer psychology (preferences, sensitivity to incentives, and default behaviour) -Brand awareness consultancies -Financial trading and risk assessment -Internet auction companies -Design consultancies (e.g. websites) -In large international institutions, e.g. World Bank, EBRD, Central Banks etc.
City’s Behavioural Economics postgraduate course would be especially valuable for professionals who already work in occupations which involve the need to understand the scientific dynamics of human decision making and behaviour (e.g., financial traders who require the right psychological attitude as much as appropriate strategy knowledge).