Executive MSc Behavioural Science
Everyone has a story to tell about human behaviour. Uncover the science behind the stories and discover some better ones.
Please note that due to overwhelming demand are we now at capacity for September 2014 and are no longer considering applications. The admissions cycle for September 2015 will re-open in October.
LSE’s Departments of Social Policy and Management are excited to announce the launch of their joint Executive MSc in Behavioural Science, starting in September 2014.
The programme is delivered in a modular format and aims to provide a suite of high quality integrated courses for individuals seeking to advance their career in behavioural science while continuing to work.
The Executive Student
The MSc Behavioural Science executive cohort will have a diverse academic background, such as – but not limited to – economics, geography and environmental studies, management, medicine, philosophy, political science and government, psychology, public policy, social policy, and sociology.
Executive students will have relevant work experience in the public, private or third sector, including businesses, charities, government, local authorities, and international organisations (such as the OECD, the European Commission and the World Health Organisation).
Executive students are likely to choose this MSc for two reasons; because behavioural science is an area directly related to their current professional role, or because they wish to pursue it for their own personal/career development. The Executive MSc Behavioural Science will provide students with the opportunity to study alongside their employment to enhance and support their professional development.
Many organisations now engage with the idea of applying behavioural insights to their organisational challenges. After all, these challenges ultimately require behaviour change of some kind. Further, many companies, charities and public bodies are recognising the power of ‘live testing’; testing their products and policies in real world environments. The motivation for this comes from increasing recognition of the limitations of traditional research methods, like market research and customer insight.
Attending the MSc Behavioural Science, executive students will:
Interact and share knowledge and experiences with other executive students from a variety of industries, all committed to grow in their current roles.
Study alongside their employment to bring the knowledge acquired in the classroom directly to their organisation.
Build a strong professional network through fellow executive students and LSE’s renowned Alumni.
The Executive MSc Behavioural Science is a 16-month programme starting in September each year. It comprises six taught courses and a dissertation. Students come to the LSE campus for three two-week teaching sessions. Sessions take place in September, January, and April. Between sessions, students receive online support from academic members of staff, including online office consultations and interactions with other student groups. After the April session, students work on their dissertation with support from their supervisor.
It is now well-established that much of what we do simply comes about, rather than being thought about. This course introduces the main concepts and tools of the growing field of behavioural science.
We will pay particular attention to differences between conscious and unconscious decision-making, and throughout we will use real world examples and the very latest research evidence.
The course covers the following topics: What is behavioural science?; Choices over time and under risk and uncertainty; social preferences; the role of emotions in decision making; dual-processing models of behaviour and the role of the unconscious mind; how one behaviour affects another; behavioural science in practice.
This course introduces executive students to the fascinating field of behavioural “decision” science. We will explore a selection of current research topics relevant to personal and managerial decision making as well as policy-making.
For each topic you will get acquainted with key psychological phenomena and principles of behavioural decision science through interactive lectures, and become alert to cognitive biases and learn how to overcome them. You will be asked to read pre-assigned scientific articles and in class discuss lessons learned, limitations and implications of these concepts for the development of decision making competence in their organisation (e.g. via design of policies, training programmes, or tools).
Topics will include: Origin of Behavioural Decision Science; the Building Blocks of Behavioural Decision Science: Preferences, Utility and Value; Probability, Uncertainty and Risk; Choice Architecture and Behavioural Change; Heuristics and Biases in Decisions about Money, Health, Consumer Products and People.
In making decisions, managers and policy makers can resort to their intuition, personal experience, testimonials, anecdotal evidence, or empirical evidence. Irrespective of which one opts to base decisions upon, the latter is the only rigorous method. Knowledge of certain methods are however necessary. This course aims to introduce you to the main methodological concepts and tools in behavioural science.
The course will combine rigorous conceptual discussion with practical applications. To achieve this objective, the course covers: Correlation versus causation; Randomised controlled experiments in the lab and the field; Experimental design and behavioural econometrics; Sampling methods; When randomisation is not possible: natural experiments, quasi-experiments, difference-in-difference, discontinuity regression design, propensity score matching; Measuring risk and time preferences; Measuring rationality in strategic decision-making; Measuring social preferences; Measuring preferences for goods; Measuring attitudes and non-conscious mind states.
Resources are scarce. Because of this, we need to ensure that these limited resources are used where they do most good. One key challenge is how to measure and value ‘good’. This course aims to introduce you to the main concepts and tools of economic appraisal and project impact assessment.
The course covers the following topics: Overview of appraisal and valuation; Cost-benefit analysis; Equivalent variation and compensating variation; Stated preference methods; Quality-adjusted life years; Revealed preference methods; the subjective well-being account and approach to valuation; Efficiency, equity, and distributional issues. The course offers practical examples and applications to key policy sectors, such as health, finance and the environment.
This course yields insight into key moral and political values that are essential for policy-makers. Discussion is focused on cases and is thoroughly interdisciplinary: it draws on both normative philosophical arguments and findings from the social sciences to allow students to make informed and rigorous evaluations of public decisions.
Topics may vary, but the following is a representative sample: How can philosophy contribute to public policy debates? When should we rely on markets to address policy problems? What are the philosophical issues surrounding cost-benefit analysis and risk analysis? When, if ever, is government paternalism justified? What is the role of personal responsibility in determining people’s claims on shared resources in health care and welfare allocations? What are our rights to freedom of expression? Is pornography protected by such rights? What kind of equality matters in the distribution of goods? How should we deal with disadvantage?
For the modern day enterprise, be it private firms seeking to maximize revenues and profits, non-profit organizations seeking to change behaviours and raise money for pro-social causes, or government bodies seeking to implement policy, the role of goals and motivations is critical, both at the individual level and the team level. For each entity it is important to gain a critical understanding of what kinds of goals individuals and teams are attracted to, how these goals are set and pursued, what factors and incentives aid or hinder such goal pursuit and goal achievement, and how teams and individuals react to feedback on their progress towards these goals.
This course will familiarise you with strategies for promoting success over every phase of goal pursuit, from first consideration, to commitment, to action, and beyond. You will be introduced to empirical findings on the optimal ways to use tools like specific goal setting, implementation intentions, mental simulations of processes versus outcomes, and self-efficacy in order to boost motivation and aid in successful goal pursuit.
The aim of the dissertation is for you to pursue an independent piece of research within the field of behavioural science. The dissertation is a quantitative or qualitative investigation in the field and can be either a theoretical or empirical piece of research. You will be assigned an academic adviser who will provide feedback and advice on the project.
All courses are compulsory for all executive students on the programme.
The Executive MSc Behavioural Science is delivered by LSE academics associated with the Departments of Social Policy and Management and from several departments within the School.
The Executive MSc Programme Directors are:
Professor Paul Dolan
Department of Social Policy
Paul Dolan is a Professor of Behavioural Science in the Department of Social Policy. He is an internationally renowned expert on happiness, behaviour and public policy.
There are three main themes to his work. The first focuses on developing measures of happiness and subjective well-being that can be used in policy. The second considers ways in which the lessons from the behavioural sciences can be used to understand and change individual behaviour, and to add to the evidence base in this regard. The third theme uses lab and field experiments to address major challenges, such as the impact of interventions on people’s lives and on their behaviour.
Amongst other professional activities, he is co-director of the Centre for the Study of Incentives in Health, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences Panel on measuring wellbeing, a member of the National Wellbeing Advisory Forum for the Office for National Statistics in the UK, a member of the Cognitive and Behavioural Sciences Panel of the World Economic Forum, an expert advisor to Ofgem, and is Chief Academic Advisor to the UK Government on economic appraisal. He was seconded into the Behavioural Insights Team in 2010 to help embed the ‘mindspace way’ into policymaking. He has worked with many clients on behaviour change, including Aviva, ABN-AMRO, Money Advice Service, Nestle and Shell.
Paul's website can be viewed here and Twitter account here.
Dr Barbara Fasolo
Department of Management
Dr Barbara Fasolo is Associate Professor in Behavioural Science in the Department of Management of the London School of Economics and Political Science. She currently serves as Head of the Behavioural Research Lab, Director of the Executive Master in Behavioural Science, and on the Department of Health Behavioural Insights Expert Advisory Panel.
Barbara is an expert in behavioural decision-making, behavioural change, behavioural public policy, with a specific interest in digital nudging and choice architecture.
Her background is inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural: Economics (BSc, Distinction, Bocconi University, Italy), decision sciences (MSc, Distinction, London School of Economics, UK), and experimental psychology (PhD, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA). She was Visiting Professor at IESE Business School (2012/13, Barcelona), Expert-in-Secondment for the European Medicines Agency (2009-12, London) and Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Human Development (2002-04, Berlin).
Barbara’s research has been published in more than 50 outlets, including leading academic journals, (PNAS and the Annual Review of Psychology), books and invited chapters, and has been covered in media outlets such as The Harvard Business Review. She is a member of the Behavioural Science and Policy Association, the Society of Judgment and Decision Making and the European Association of Decision Making.
Her lab, online and field research studies choices faced by patients, consumers, and professionals in the public (e.g., for the European Medicines Agency, the King’s Fund, and the European Commission) and private sector (e.g. Which?). Barbara consults individuals and organisations keen to study and improve their decision behaviour, and design smart and kind choice architecture.
Barbara's LSE webpage.
Barbara's LinkedIn page.
For entry into the programme, participants will need to have:
A good first degree in any discipline.
Standard level of English. Applicants whose first language is not English, or who have not been educated at degree level entirely in English, are required to provide evidence of English language ability. The most common qualifications are the IELTS or TOEFL tests. Applicants do not need to have the required marks when they apply, but they would form a condition of any offer issued, and would have to be achieved before registration.
Two references, ideally one academic and one professional. If you graduated from your most recent academic study before January 2008 and no academic references are available, you may supply two professional references.
A personal statement - 2 or 3 A4 pages should be your guide here.
A resume or CV, outlining their work experience.
And, most importantly, passion for behavioural science!
The Executive MSc Behavioural Science does not have an application deadline. However, you are strongly advised to apply early as the programme has a limited number of places.
All applications should be made through the LSE Graduate Admissions Office. Full details of the applications procedure can be found on their homepage.
The GRE/GMAT tests are not a formal requirement for admission to this programme. However, if you have taken one of these tests and you believe your results will support your application, please include them.
The fee level for the 2014 entry is £22,500, which includes a £2,500 non refundable pre-registration fee. Payment plan details can be found on the LSE Fees Office executive webpage.
There are approximately 22 lecture hours per module. Our recommended guidance here would be that the student takes 3 hours for every hour spent in class.
The aim of the dissertation is for students to pursue an independent piece of research within the field of behavioural science. The dissertation is a quantitative or qualitative investigation and can be either theoretical or empirical.
Students will be allocated to a member of faculty who will act as their adviser. Advisers will provide initial feedback to a 1,000 word research proposal and will also provide feedback throughout the writing process. The expected length of the dissertation is 10,000 words.
Accommodation costs are not included in the tuition fees. For the September session, Executive MSc Behavioural Science students may arrange their accommodation via LSE Vacations. For the January and April sessions, accommodation can be arranged via the Staff and Visitor Accommodation portal up to 60 days in advance of arriving in London. Please note that availability for LSE accommodation unfortunately cannot be guaranteed, but that we can also provide a list of hotels in close proximity to LSE - please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
There are no internal LSE scholarships for this programme at present.
Teaching begins on Monday 15 September 2014 at LSE, after your registration session at which you formally become a student at the School. Teaching will then take place as follows:
15 to 26 September 2014
5 to 16 January 2015
13 to 24 April 2015
We want to ensure that executive students have an excellent experience on this MSc, so we want to keep the class size small. We anticipate that we will have 30 places available.
The Executive MSc Behavioural Science consists of six compulsory taught courses and a dissertation. The taught courses incorporate a formative essay (for which students will be given feedback but which does not count towards the final mark) and a summative assignment. Most courses also include a written exam.
Yes, as a registered student at LSE you will have full access to the School's services and facilities, including the famous LSE Library and the Careers Service. You will also have the opportunity to attend LSE's excellent programme of public lectures and events, given by some of the world's foremost academics, politicians and business leaders. for more information, please visit lse.ac.uk/publicEvents.
We understand that students may have to miss some lecture or classes because of work commitments. We will provide a strong 'off-campus' element to the programme to support the busy lives of our students. These tailored facilities include extensive online learning resources and teaching support via Moodle, as well as dedicated Course Support Managers (CSMs) to answer questions and assist your learning. It is however of course recommended that you miss as little lecture and class time as possible.
If you are from the EEA (European Economic Area), Norway or Switzerland you do not need a visa to study in the UK. Non-EEA students will normally need to obtain a Student Visitor Visa in order to register on the programme. Please visit the International Student Immigration Service's decidcated webpage which contains visa information specifically for students on our executive programmes.
You will receive an MSc in Behavioural Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Throughout the course of the programme students will have access to a sophisticated online learning platform, Moodle, which enables them to stay connected between modules. Faculty will use this for intersession activities such as discussions, online (one-to-one) office hours, and to plan short tasks and revision sessions. Students can also submit assignments through the site. The administration team will use it to communicate important announcements and reminders to the class. By using this online technology students will remain an active part of the LSE community from wherever in the world they are based.
As an LSE student you will have access to the Library, including desktop computers and meeting rooms where you can work remotely. Wireless internet is available throughout the LSE campus. We can facilitate other communication needs in cases of emergency.
You will be allowed to retake an assessment for that course once under conditions that are similar to when you were first assessed on the course.
You may be able to receive a Diploma or Certificate, depending on the number of courses you have completed.
News and Events
Professor Paul Dolan talks about happiness on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch programme - access the clip here.
Professor Dolan appears in the ES Magazine, Evening Standard.
Professor Dolan talks about happiness and bodybuilding with the The Indenpendent Magazine.
Professor Paul Dolan speaks to London Evening Standard (insert about 'Out of Office' replies) and in the same publication here about Happiness.
Professor Paul Dolan - 'Happiness by Design' book review in The Guardian.
Professor Paul Dolan speaks to The Telegraph about every cloud having a silver lining. Read here
Dr. George Kavetsos' analysis of the World Cup 2014 has been included in some BBC News and Financial Times reports.
Listen to Professor Paul Dolan discuss 'Happiness vs. Social Media' on BBC Radio 2 on this link.
The Behavioural Research Lab
The LSE Behavioural Research Lab is a purpose-built facility designed for the use of researchers examining behaviour in organisations. The lab, which aims to facilitate world class behavioural research by providing state-of-the-art facilities, will be open to students on the Executive MSc Behavioural Science.
Behavioural Economics Seminars
The LSE Behavioural Economics seminar series is a cross-departmental, inter-disciplinary initiative, founded by Adam Oliver, and now coordinated by Matteo M Galizzi. The seminar series aims to bring together researchers interested in behavioural economics and applied behavioural science across all LSE departments and research centres.
We will be holding information sessions in London for participants interested in applying to the programme. The sessions will give prospective applicants the opportunity to find out more details about the programme and application process and to meet the Programme Directors in person.
More information will be available here once the next session has been scheduled.
Please contact us if you have any queries regarding the Executive MSc Behavioural Science or want to find out if the programme is right for you:
Therese Holmqvist, Executive MSc Programmes Manager
Anthony King, Executive MSc Programmes Administrator
Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 7205 / 7501
At a glance
Degree: Master of Science
Duration: 16 months
Start date: 15 September 2014
Cohort size: 30
Format: Modular programme, students attend three two-week teaching sessions at LSE, after which they write their dissertation.
Application deadline: None (rolling admission)
Entry requirements: Bachelor's degree (UK 2:1 or international equivalent) and 3 years' relevant work experience