Foundations in Behavioural Science

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Grace Lordan


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Behavioural Science. This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Psychological and Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This course aims to introduce students to the main concepts and tools of behavioural science. To achieve this aim, the course is based around ten lectures covering: 1) what is behavioural science?; 2) choices under risk and uncertainty; 3) intertemporal decisions; 4) social and moral preferences; 5) biases and heuristics and rules of thumb; 6) the role of emotions in decision making; 7) dual-process models of behaviour; 8) the power of nudges; 9) compensating behaviours; 10) ethical considerations.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT.

There are ten topics, and the seminars allow for in depth discussion and analysis of the issues raised in the lectures.

Students taking PB405 will also be required to attend PB400 lecture and discussion groups. (PB400 lecture 10 x 120 mins (MT) and 9 x 60 mins discussion groups).

Formative coursework

Students' will complete two formative assignments, one essay of 1000 words and a 500 word annotated bibliography for any 2 readings from the first 3 lectures from PB400 submitted in the Michealmas term.

Indicative reading

DellaVigna, S. (2009). Psychology and economics: Evidence from the field. Journal of Economic Literature, 47(2), 315-72.

Weber, E.U., and Johnson, E.J. (2009). Mindful judgment and decision making. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 53-85.

Loewenstein, G., Weber, E.U., Hsee, C.K., and Welch, N. (2001). Risk as feelings. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 267-286.

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.

Thaler, R. and Sunstein, C. (2003) Libertarian paternalism, American Economic Review, 93, 2, 175-179.


Essay (80%, 5000 words) and coursework (20%, 1500 words) in the MT.

A 1500 word annotated bibliography for any 6 readings from the fourth and subsequent lectures from PB400 submitted in the Michealmas term which makes up 20% of overall course mark.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information