SA4G5      Half Unit
Valuation, Behaviour and Policy (modular)

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Paul Dolan OLD2.38


This course is available on the MSc in Health Economics, Policy and Management. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This course offers an understanding of how to measure health outcomes for policy purposes. We will focus on the 'effectiveness' side of cost-effectiveness analysis. We will consider the ways in which economists outside of health value benefits (using revealed and stated preferences) and then focus on how health economists have developed methods specifically designed to value health status. We shall pay particular attention to the measurement and valuation of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), which are being used by agencies such as the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). We will discuss some of the problems with the current methods of calculating QALYs, framed around the latest evidence from the behavioural sciences. It will then consider whether 'happiness' measures might provide a better alternative. The course will conclude with a consideration of issues relating to equity and fairness and how we account for preferences that policymakers and the public have regarding 'who gets what'.


2 lectures (2 hours), 4 lectures (1.5 hours) and 5 seminars (2 hours)

Formative coursework

In-class exercise during seminar time. Students will receive feedback on it from their seminar leader after completion.

Indicative reading

The following are background readings for the course:

Paul Dolan, Chapter 32 in the Handbook of Health Economics, Volume 1b (Elsevier, 2000); Dolan P and Kahneman D, Interpretations of utility and their implications for the valuation of health, Economic Journal., 118 (525), 215-234, 2008; Dolan P, Hallsworth M, Halpern D, King D, Metcalfe R, Vlaev I, Influencing behaviour: the mindspace way, Journal of Economic Psychology, 33, 1, 264-277, 2012; Dolan P, Shaw R, Tsuchiya A and Williams A, QALY maximisation and people's preferences: A methodological review of the literature, Health Economics. 14, 2, 197-208, 2005.

Students will be given access to essential readings before the course begins through the pre-sessional reading programme on Moodle, which they will be expected to read prior to the first day of class.


Essay (100%, 3000 words).

Student performance results

(2010/11 - 2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 7.8
Merit 49
Pass 33.3
Fail 9.8

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information