About the course
How do we make decisions about markets, businesses and customers? What’s the science behind these decisions? How does an understanding of human behaviour make better policies? What’s the impact of sales practices on customers? How do behavioural biases in customers impact how much they’ll pay for a product or service?
Behavioural economics is one of the fastest growing areas in economics in recent years. Insights inform business and public policy alike – we investigate the human and social factors influencing decisions made by consumers, borrowers and investors.
In your first term, you design a lab experiment for one of your assignments. You can then test your idea by carrying out behavioural research from start to finish in ESSEXLab, our state-of-the-art social science laboratory. You’re also trained in experimental design by lab experts and your lecturers, and can receive funding to carry out your experiment in the lab, subject to availability.
You don’t need a background in economics to study this course. Our modules are flexible so you can choose to focus on specific topics that interest you. We’ll teach you a diverse set of tools and methods, preparing you well for PhD study or a career in a number of fields such as business environments or public policy and implementation.
You explore topics including:
- How economic considerations, cognitive limitations and psychology jointly shape human decision making
- Theoretical frameworks and empirical predictions for environments where traditional theory fails to provide guidance
- Markets and strategic interactions.
We’re one of Europe’s leading economics departments, ranked top 5 in the UK for research, with over 90% rated as “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014). We’re also ranked among the top 150 departments on the planet (QS World Rankings 2016). Much of our world-class research is related to policy, and we have particular strengths in the areas of:
- Economic theory, game theory and strategic interactions
- Behavioural economics
- Applied economics and labour economics
There's always something fascinating going on in our department, from regular lively debates with prestigious speakers in seminars, workshops and conferences to cutting-edge papers being published in leading journals, including American Economic Review, Econometrica, and Review of Economic Studies.
“The department was very supportive throughout my stay at Essex. I got a better understanding of behavioural economics as well as experimental economics. I also enjoyed working as an assistant in ESSEXLab. I worked with researchers, finding out how they come up with ideas, formulate them into an experimental design, run the experiments, and make sense of the data. After my Masters, I decided to stay at Essex and study PhD Economics.”
Zia UI Hassan Khan, MSc Behavioural Economics
Our University is one of only 21 ESRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK.
This means that our course can form part of a prestigious 1+3 funding opportunity worth up to £21,575.
Our expert staff
Study and work alongside some of the most prominent economists of our time.
Our researchers are at the forefront of their field and have even received MBEs, with students coming from across the globe to study, research or work with us.
Many of our researchers also provide consultancy services to businesses in London and other major financial centres, helping us to develop research for today's society as well as informing our teaching for the future.
See research interests of our staff.
Take advantage of our wide range of learning resources to assist you in your studies:
- Work with researchers to learn how to conduct experiments from start to finish, as a lab assistant in ESSEXLab, our state-of-the-art social science experimental lab.
- Extensive software for quantitative analysis is available in all computer labs across the University
- Access a variety of economics databases and multiple copies of textbooks and e-books in the Albert Sloman Library
After completing your masters, you may wish to extend your knowledge with a research degree – many Essex graduates decide to stay here for further study.
Alternatively, our course also prepares you for employment. Recent surveys have shown that higher degree graduates are more likely to obtain jobs at professional or managerial level. 77% of our 2015 leavers are in graduate-level work or study within six months (DLHE 2016).
With its distinctive focus on questions in behavioural economics, combining theoretical foundations and real-world applications, this course will equip you with transferable employability skills valued in industry (for example in the retail and financial sectors), government and academia.
Our graduates find employment in roles such as business and financial analysts, management consultants, government officials, and economists for banks and other financial organisations. Recent graduates include an Analyst at E2V Technology Company, Delivery Executive at Adam Smith International, a University Lecturer and roles in large organisations such as Deutsche Bank.
We also work with the University’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Be a lab assistant
We want you to succeed in your career after Essex. To help you do this, we offer two of our students on this course the chance to undertake work experience as a lab assistant in ESSEXLab, our state-of-the-art social science lab at our Colchester Campus. ESSEXLab works with researchers from across the social sciences, from Essex, elsewhere in the UK, and abroad.
As a lab assistant, you help researchers access lab resources to plan and execute their experiments, giving you a full view of the experimental research process at ESSEXLab from start to finish.
Lab assistants will have the opportunity to participate in supporting a variety of studies, including studies in the lab, online studies, and studies conducted in the field via ESSEXLab Mobile, our iPad-based mobile social science laboratory.
One Masters not enough for you?
We offer a number of postgraduate taught double degrees with our international partners. You work for two Masters degrees, one at Essex and another at a prestigious university across the globe, gaining them both in a shorter time than studying them separately. This unique opportunity gives you a competitive edge when applying for jobs or prepares you for PhD study.
UK entry requirements
A degree with an overall grade of 2.2.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.
English language requirements
IELTS 6.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.