HP420      Half Unit
Health Economics

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Andrew Street COW 1.02


This course is compulsory on the MSc in International Health Policy. This course is available on the MSc in Health Policy, Planning and Financing and MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

In allocating places in this course, students enrolled in the MSc in International Health Policy and MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics) have priority. 

Course content

This course develops basic economic concepts as they are applied to the health sector. We shall discuss economics issues at system-level, including options for financing health care, predicting future expenditure, and assessing the degree of health equity and equality. We shall consider demand for health care and for health insurance, discussing matters such as moral hazard, adverse selection and risky health behaviours. Then we shall turn to the supply-side of health care provision, considering the agency relationship between patients and physicians, the competitiveness of health care markets, the geographical configuration of health care services, and methods for paying health care providers. The course is designed to provide an intuitive understanding of a wide range of economic concepts, illustrated by practical examples.


This course will be delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum 33 hours during Michaelmas Term. Students will have access to lecture material delivered as short online videos. Synchronous workshops will be held throughout the term to enable students to work through key problem sets. Students will also take part in small group seminars.

There will be a departmental reading week in week 6 of term.

Formative coursework

Mock exam in the MT.

Indicative reading

The course draws from a variety of textbooks and articles, with a thorough reading list provided prior to the lectures. The course makes repeated use of the following textbook:

J Bhattacharya, T Hyde & P Tu, Health Economics, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.



Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 26.3
Merit 58.8
Pass 12.5
Fail 2.4

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Health Policy

Total students 2019/20: 101

Average class size 2019/20: 17

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills