MG406E      Half Unit
Behavioural Decision Science

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Barbara Fasolo


This course is compulsory on the Executive MSc in Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This course introduces 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 students 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. Students will 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.


15 hours of lectures and 8 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

The formative assignment will take place on the final day of the course after all the lectures and seminars have been completed. The assignment will consist of a plenary presentation in which students divided into small groups will be asked to give a short presentation discussing an intervention (de-biasing technique, nudging, or choice architecture) that can be used to tackle the most important biases in a decision making problem of their choice. Student groups will develop their plenary presentations during seminars while interacting with the course teachers and other students. The formative feedback will be given at a team level, and will focus on the rigour and use of behavioural science concepts learned in the course.

Indicative reading

Ariely, D. (2008). Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. Harper Collins;

Baron, J. (2000), Thinking and Deciding (3rd edition), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press;

Bazerman, M. (2017) Judgment in Managerial Decision Making. New York: Wiley. 8th edition;

Beach and Connolly (2005), The Psychology of Decision Making: People in Organizations, (2nd Edition), Sage;

Hastie, R., and Dawes, R.M. (2001). Rational Choice in an Uncertain World. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks;

Kahneman, D. (2011) Thinking Fast and Slow. London: Allen Lane;

Melnikoff, D. E., & Bargh, J. A. (2018). The mythical number two. Trends in cognitive sciences, 22(4), 280-293.

Plous, S. (1993), The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making, New York: McGraw Hill;

Russo, J. E. & Schoemaker, P. J. H. (2002) Winning decisions: How to make the right decision the first time, Piatkus Publ. Limited;

Sunstein, C.R. Thaler, R.H. (2008) Nudge - New Haven, CT: Yale University Press;

Yates, F. J. (2003). Decision Management: How to Assure Better Decisions in Your Company. Jossey-Bass.


Coursework (100%, 3000 words) in the MT.

The summative assignment will include two parts. In the first part (no more than 1,000 words), you will be asked to describe and critically evaluate how the decision problem as well as the intervention presented for the formative assessment came about. This part will be less academic because we will expect you to use individual reflection, and academic references will not be needed. In the second part of the essay (no more than 2,000 words), you will justify the specific nudging or debiasing intervention, with reference to behavioural literature, and theories. The first part of the essay will count for 25% of your mark while 75% will come from the second part.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills