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MSc Behavioural Economics

Why we're great

  • Work with researchers to learn how to conduct experiments from start to finish, as a lab assistant in ESSEXLab.
  • Learn powerful theories and skills that are welcomed in business environments and public sectors, as well as doctoral-level study.
  • Learn alongside research stars who are breaking new ground in all fields of economics.

Course options2017-18

Duration: 1 year
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Economics
Fee (Home/EU): £10,200
Fee (International): £15,950
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Duration: 2 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Economics
Fee (Home/EU): £5,100
Fee (International): £7,975
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719
Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk

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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 2017. 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 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.

Specialist facilities

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

Your future

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.

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Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

What are the concepts and methods of modern microeconomics? And how can you apply economic reasoning to this? Understand the main principles and theories of modern microeconomics, looking at topics like contract theory, equilibrium concepts in game theory, and market signalling. Learn to apply economic reasoning to these arguments.

How do individuals make decisions? When does classic economic theory not predict empirically observed behaviour? And how do you then use behavioural economics to reconcile your empirical findings with theoretical models? Learn about empirical and theoretical research in behavioural economics that can be used to explain individual decision making.

What happens when classic economic theory doesn’t predict empirically observed behaviour? Can behaviour economics help? Study strategic interactions and markets using behavioural economics to reconcile empirical findings with theoretical models. Gain an understanding of experimental methods used in behavioural economics.

Interested in understanding current research and undertaking research in economics? This module covers topics in decision theory, game theory and information economics, contract theory and mechanism design with an emphasis on mathematical formalism. The module will introduce you to the mathematical framework and methods that are relevant to research in these topics.

What interests you? Undertake a research project of your choosing, studying a specific economic issue or set of problems in depth, with supervision from our world-leading academic staff. Gain experience of original and independent work, making use of and building on skills that you have acquired during your Masters.

What are the main issues facing the modern macroeconomist? How do you critically assess macroeconomic policies? Acquire the necessary tools for macroeconomic analysis, focusing on the important questions faced by macroeconomists today.

Study the concepts of risk and return in equity markets, both in the context of asset pricing, and in the management of equity portfolios. You will start by focusing on the analysis of the stylised facts of asset returns, and will then review the theoretical foundations of modern finance, covering expected utility theory and risk aversion.

What mathematical concepts are vital to understanding modern economic theory? Gain the essential mathematics skills needed to study economics at Masters-level, such as optimisation theory and the role of equilibrium. Understand how economic arguments work and improve your problem solving skills by using real-world economic problems.

What are the main principles of estimation and inference in econometrics? Learn to justify or criticise (where appropriate) the use of econometric methods of estimation and inference in a variety of situations. Gain analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as an understanding of economic and business policies.

What are the distinctive features of less developed economies? How do theories around child labour or inequality explain poverty? What economic policies could alleviate such problems? Understand the issues facing developing countries, examining policies theoretically and empirically. Act as a policy advisor, undertaking research on issues of development economics.

How do you analyse stationary time series? Or non-stationary (integrated) processes? Understand the econometric methods available to analyse models of economic time series. Examine how methods of estimation and inference can be applied to these models. Learn how to use these methods in your own research.

What are the main issues with panel data? And the main econometric techniques to analyse panel data? What methods can you use to evaluate spell duration data? Answer such questions with examples from labour economics, while gaining the skills to analyse a variety of research and policy problems.

Teaching

  • Core components can be combined with optional modules to enable you to gain either in-depth specialisation or a breadth of understanding across several topics
  • Our postgraduates are encouraged to attend conferences and seminars

Assessment

  • Each module is assessed with a final examination and a coursework component
  • Coursework is taken in the form of a term paper or a midterm test

Dissertation

  • You undertake an individually supervised research project that involves the in-depth study of a specific economic problem or issue

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Qualifications

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. Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk 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.

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Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

Visit us

Open days

We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

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