PB450E      Half Unit
Behavioural Science and Policy

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Paul Dolan CON 5.19


This course is compulsory on the Executive MSc in 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 the growing fields of behavioural science. The course covers the following topics: What is behavioural science?; What are preferences to economists and psychologists?; Dual-process models of behaviour and the role of the unconscious mind; Dual processing into policy using the MINDSPACE checklist; the role of emotions in decision making; compensating behaviours; breaking and creating habits. Students will develop an understanding of how people make decisions across a variety of contexts and the importance of understanding decisions for designing policy in both public and private organisations. We will cover canonical texts and ideas from behavioural science such as Kahneman & Tversky and Thaler & Sunstein, and we will also introduce students to cutting-edge research within behavioural science including recent work by our own faculty.


9 hours of lectures and 12 hours of seminars in the MT.

Please note that the lectures will be a mixture of pre-recorded and live. The seminars will be delivered live. 

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

There will also be formative exercises in the seminars.

Indicative reading

Dolan, P. (2014). Happiness by design: finding pleasure and purpose in everyday life. London: Allen Lane. 

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking Fast and Slow. London: Penguin Books

Gneezy U, Meier S, Rey-Beil P (2011), “When and Why Incentives (Don’t) Work to Modify Behavior”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 25(4):191-210.

DellaVigna, S. (2007). "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field". NBER Working Paper No. 13420. 

Dolan, P., Hallsworth, M., Halpern, D., King, D., Metcalfe, R., Vlaev, I. (2012). "Influencing Behaviour: The mindspace way". Journal of Economic Psychology, 33 (1): 264-277. 

Dolan, P., Galizzi, M. (2015). "Like ripples on a pond: Behavioural spillovers and their implications for research and policy". Journal of Economic Psychology, 47: 1-16. 



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

2 x 1,500 word essays

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: 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
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills