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Behavioural Economics in Action MSc/PGDip/PGCert

Learn about the course below
October 2021
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
£12,100 (UK) *
£16,500 (EU/INT) *
Course leader
Joris Gillet

Over the past decade, techniques in behavioural economics have been applied by a large number of private and public sector organisations ranging from Coca-Cola, Google and Visa to the Bank of England, Oxfam and the NHS. Concepts from behavioural economics are widely used in areas including marketing, organ donor framing and incentives to save or spend. There seems to be no aspect of life in which applications from behavioural economics are not relevant.

Why study MSc Behavioural Economics in Action at Middlesex University?

This course is highly relevant to individuals from policy making and management backgrounds in the public and private sectors, as well as graduates from a range of backgrounds including anthropology, business, economics, finance, political science, psychology, sociology, neuroscience, maths and physics. The tools and techniques we teach, particularly the design of experiments including spatial randomization and clustering, are in great demand in organisations that seek to understand customer and consumer behaviour.

Our economics department has the largest group of academics working in the field of behavioural economics in London, holds regular seminars and talks from visiting researchers and has a network of international collaborators from all over the world. This high level of collaboration and exchange of knowledge means you benefit from being part of a highly active department, as well as participating in practical learning as you develop the skills to design, run and interpret trails and experiments with academics, other institutions and international labs.

Course highlights

  • High level of engagement with experiments including the design, running and interpretation of trials with an emphasis on education, health, marketing and voting
  • Be part of a highly active department which host regular seminars and welcomes research visitors
  • The department has a dedicated Behavioural Economics Group (BEC), who run experiments in both the lab and the field, and conduct research in areas including cooperation and altruism, markets and collusion, belief elicitation and social networks
  • A wide base of international collaborators from the USA, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Australia feeding into the knowledge and expertise

Find out more

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What will you study on the MSc Behavioural Economics in Action?

This course teaches you how to design experiments and interventions, imparts the approaches and skills necessary to analyse data generated from interventions and enhances an understanding of how to dig deeper into the nature of problems faced in society. The modules centred on behavioural economics, data analysis, experimental economics and behavioural markets all provide students with the advanced knowledge and skills required to tackle the keys topics of the subject area. The practice element of the course gives you the chance to see the process of designing of an experiment or survey, how other researchers run experiments or analysis of results from previous interventions

The dissertation element of the course gives you an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills you have gained to explore and area of behavioural economics that is of particular interest to you. This project can be developed with an academic within the school or an external supervisor.

There are three different awards available for this course:

  • PG Certificate route comprises two 30 credit modules
  • PG Diploma route comprises two 30 credit modules and four 15 credit modules
  • MSc route comprises two 30 credit modules, four 15 credit modules and a dissertation


  • Modules

    • Behavioural Economics (15 credits) - Compulsory

      This module aims to provide students with an advanced knowledge of individuals' decision-making as well as a clear understanding of how individuals and firms behave in context of strategic interaction. The module combines both theoretical knowledge and behavioural data, with a special emphasis on principal-agent relationship and labour markets. The module is divided into three main topics: Games of Strategy, Behavioural Labour Economics, and Individual Decision Making. It also provides students with a basic knowledge about how to programme laboratory experiments.

    • Data Analysis (15 credits) - Compulsory

      This module aims to equip students with essential mathematical and statistical skills to help analyse data arising from economic experiments, present results and interpret findings. You need to master the techniques of locating, describing, differentiating and analysing data to aid with conducting economic and social experiments as well as processing and presenting findings.

    • Experimental Economics (15 credits) - Compulsory

      This module consists of four parts. The first part will provide students with an advanced understanding of the principles of experimental design in experimental economics. In the second part, the students will learn about different theories and the central findings of the experimental research programmes on the topic of social preferences. The third part will introduce students to special issues concerning running (and interpreting the results of) field experiments. In the fourth and final part, we will discuss, using relevant examples from the recent literature, a number of current developments in experimental economics.

    • Behavioural Markets (15 credits) - Compulsory

      This module aims to introduce students to advanced topics in behavioural economics - with special focus on behavioural market and behavioural finance. The module has three parts - the first is designed to analyse rigorously how consumers, firms and markets behave. The second part explores issues in behavioural finance. The third part is designed - via weekly seminars - to introduce ongoing research in experimental and behavioural approaches to economics.

    • Practice 1 (30 credits) - Compulsory

      The aims of the module are to provide hands-on experience with behavioural economics and advanced knowledge of the practice of empirical research in behavioural and experimental economics. The student will work under the supervision of a professor carrying out laboratory or field experiments. This will provide the student with a unique perspective of the practice of behavioural economics.

    • Dissertation (60 credits) - Compulsory

      This module aims to provide students with the opportunity to synthesise the knowledge and skills gained during the programme. This will enable them to define and execute a piece of research in any area of behavioural economics. The research area can be original or be a replication of already published work. Students will develop the research topic in consultation with the module leader and/or programme instructors, or an outside supervisor.

    • Practice 2 (30 credits) - Compulsory

      The aims of the module are to provide hands-on experience with behavioural economics and advanced knowledge of the practice of empirical research in behavioural and experimental economics. The student will work under the supervision of a professor carrying out laboratory or field experiments. This will provide the student with a unique perspective of the practice of behavioural economics.

More information about this course

See the course specification for more information about typical course content outside of the coronavirus outbreak:

Optional modules are usually available at levels 5 and 6, although optional modules are not offered on every course. Where optional modules are available, you will be asked to make your choice during the previous academic year. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

How will the MSc Behavioural Economics in Action be taught?

The course incorporates a number of learning modes to ensure the development of a broad base of knowledge and abilities. These range from traditional lectures to practice activities in labs and the field. Group work is done within small clusters to ensure a high level of interaction between students and members of the academic body.



Online tests and presentations are some of the core modes in which your work on the course will be assessed.

Teaching and learning – changes for students in 2020

If you’re starting university in 2020, we’ll be teaching you in different ways to make sure you get the best learning experience possible. You’ll learn through live sessions with teaching staff and have the chance to study independently too, with access to all the online resources you need through our globally available student portal.

We’re planning different scenarios for teaching so we can be flexible. While we’re social distancing, we currently plan to teach your course fully online through a mixture of live interactive sessions and independent learning. This will ensure you’re equipped with the same skills as on campus study, and offer you an engaging learning experience where you can meet and network with your lecturers and fellow students through online platforms. We are also exploring opportunities for face-to-face interactive sessions with smaller groups of students and staff where possible and we can make the appropriate arrangements. You will still be able to access bookable study spaces on campus, and any of the facilities and support services which are open, as well as our extensive online support.

The table below shows current plans for your learning across a typical week, including scheduled live online teaching time. While some weeks might look different than this, due to how we schedule classes and make arrangements for any face to face sessions (for example, in some cases these could take place every two weeks with an increased number of hours), the table gives you an idea of what to expect based on the overall number of teaching hours on your course.

You’ll receive final arrangements for your teaching and a full course timetable before you start. >

Scenario 1: course delivered fully online

Live learning

Contact time per week, per level:

7 hours (September 2020 - April 2021)

Self-paced learning time

Average hours per week, per level:

43 (September 2020 - April 2021)

37.5 (June 2021 - September 2021, for dissertation)

On demand resources

Average hours per week, per level:


Scenario 2: course delivered with a mix of online and face to face learning with social distancing in place

Live learning

Contact time per week, per level:

7 hours (September 2020 - April 2021)

Self-paced learning time

Average hours per week, per level:

43 hours (September 2020 - April 2021)

37.5 hours (June 2021 - September 2021, for dissertation)

On demand resources

Average hours per week, per level:


Face-to-face sessions

Contact time per week, per level:

2 hours

Read more about our scenarios for returning to campus and what they might mean for your teaching and learning experience, and how you’ll be able to access student support.

Future plans for teaching

We’re developing our timetable for face to face teaching  with current government advice on social distancing to keep you safe. If social distancing requirements are lifted, we’ll start to safely move back towards our usual teaching arrangements with more opportunities for face to face learning. Some learning and support might stay online in this scenario. If more restrictions are put in place, or there is another lockdown, we’ll be prepared to deliver your learning and support fully online, with alternative arrangements made for any required placements. We’ll always give you notice of any changes that we make.

Definitions of terms

  • Live learning – Live learning will cover everything you’ll do with teaching staff like lectures, seminars, workshops and other classes, and we’ll schedule all of this for you. This might include some study outside your regular timetable, like taking part in discussion forums or online blogs where you’re supported by academic staff.
  • Independent learning – Independent learning is all the studying you’ll do outside your live learning sessions with teaching staff. This self-paced study will give you the chance to learn, prepare, revise and reflect in your own time as you need to, and you’ll have access to on-demand resources and materials to help you do your best.
    • Self-paced study – Self-paced study will give you the chance to learn wherever and whenever you want to and at your own pace, outside your live learning sessions. This independent learning could include reading and reflection, preparation for classes, revision or homework along with access to other online activities such as quizzes.
    • On-demand resources – You'll have access to on-demand resources like pre-recorded video lectures and workshops as part of your independent study. You’ll be able to review and revisit whenever you need to at your own pace.


You’ll have a strong support network available to you to make sure you develop all the necessary academic skills you need to do well on your course.

Our support services will mainly be delivered online and you’ll have access to a range of different resources so you can get the help you need, whether you’re studying at home or have the opportunity to come to campus.

You’ll have access to one to one and group sessions for personal learning and academic support from our library and IT teams, and our network of learning experts. Our teams will also be here to offer financial advice, and personal wellbeing, mental health and disability support.

More on teaching for your subject in 2020/21

Read our guide to what’s been happening in your subject area recently and more about what to expect this autumn.

  1. Standard entry requirements
  2. International (inc. EU)
  3. How to apply
  1. UK
  2. EU/International
  3. Additional costs
  4. Scholarships and bursaries

How can the MSc Behavioural Economics in Action support your career?

This masters provides a solid background in the design of experiments and data analysis, as well as ability to critically evaluate issues related to behavioural economics. Behavioural economics offers the opportunity to pursue careers as researchers and consultants in a range environments including;

  • Public bodies (HMRC, NHS, FCA, etc)
  • Banks: Beh Finance
  • Marketing departments
  • Behavioural Teams (ING, SwissRe, etc)
  • Fundraisers/Charities
  • Health Economics

We’ll carefully manage any future changes to courses, or the support and other services available to you, if these are necessary because of things like changes to government health and safety advice, or any changes to the law.

Any decisions will be taken in line with both external advice and the University’s Regulations which include information on this.

Our priority will always be to maintain academic standards and quality so that your learning outcomes are not affected by any adjustments that we may have to make.

At all times we’ll aim to keep you well informed of how we may need to respond to changing circumstances, and about support that we’ll provide to you.

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