HP4D6E      Half Unit
Behavioural Insights for Health Incentive Design

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Joan Costa-Font COW 1.06


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

Course content

The course it is structured in three sections. The first section introduces behavioural incentives, cognitive biases, behavioural market and political failure in the health and health care. Methods for behavioural inventive design. Health perceptions learning and behaviour formation. Rational learning, bounded learning, Bayesian learning, Social learning, Emotional learning. A second section discusses specific behavioural incentives. More specifically, monetary and social incentives in explaining health behaviours. It discusses the effects of personal budgets, social norms social preferences. The section convers identity models, as well as the role of envy, guilt and regret. Next, it discusses the effect of narratives, and the effect of esteem and stigma. The section then addresses the role of altruism and health, and health inequality aversion. Finally, the course discusses the role of nudge and reference points, alongside the cultural transmission and joint formation of health behaviours.  A final section is devoted to study the specific behavioural mechanisms such as the role of behavioural spillovers and prevention failures, time and heuristics in health care use. Anchoring, reminders risk and preferences, risk perceptions. Hassle costs and insurance misunderstandings.


The course will be delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 24 hours. Students will take part in workshops which include a small group group and discussion of case studies. Groups will prepare a short presentation of aa question that builds on content delivered in the lectures.

Formative coursework

It is expected students to participate in organised discussion during workshop preparations and will prepare for the workshop presentations.

Indicative reading

• Hanoch, Y, A Barnes and T Rice (2017) Behavioural Economics and Healthy Behaviors: Key Concepts and Current Research. Routledge.


Project (100%, 3000 words).

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: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Controlled access 2019/20: 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