PB454E      Half Unit
Policy Appraisal and Ethics

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ganga Shreedhar and Prof Liam Delaney

Seminar Teacher: Dr Cahal Moran


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

This course is one of two options.

Course content

Course description:

This course aims to introduce students to the main concepts and tools of behavioural policy, and policy evaluation and appraisal and yield insight into key moral and political values, and trade-offs, essential for policy-makers when they draw on behavioural science. The course offers practical examples and applications to key policy sectors, such as environment, technology, health, and infrastructure.


The course covers the following topics:

1. Behavioural policy tools, their rationale and assumptions

2. Policy evaluation tools, their rationale and assumptions (e.g. impact assessments)

3. Policy appraisal tools, their rationale and assumptions (e.g. cost-benefit analysis for market and non-market goods) & adjustments (e.g. time discounting, optimism, risk and uncertainty);

4. Elicitation of social values through revealed and stated preference methods;

5. Welfare and subjective wellbeing analysis of policy interventions;

6. Ethical challenges and tools (e.g. FORGOOD framework).

Learning outcomes

1. Students will be able to articulate the key behavioural policy appraisal and evaluation tools for the appraisal of projects, policies, programmes and regulations applied to key domains (e.g. health and environment), along with their underlying ethical frameworks.

2. Students will be able to critically assess the core appraisal methods, the underlying theories and their assumptions, and discuss the evidence that supports or casts doubt on those methods and theories, and their relative strengths and weaknesses.

3. Students will be able to perform statistical analysis to evaluate policy outcomes and critically appraise the quality of the evidence generated through these techniques.

4. Students will be able to critically appraise the underlying ethical and moral problems associated with libertarian paternalism, its links to other policy mechanisms (like campaigns, regulation, taxation).


15 hours of lectures and 7 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT.

The formative assessment will be an outline proposal to undertake a policy appraisal in an area of your choice.

Indicative reading

• Loewenstein, G., & Chater, N. (2017). Putting nudges in perspective. Behavioural Public Policy, 1(1), 26.

• HM Treasury (2020) The Green Book: Appraisal and policy evaluation in central government. London, UK.

• HM Treasury (2020) The Magenta Book: HM Treasury (2020) The Green Book: Appraisal and policy evaluation in central government. London, UK.

• Sunstein, Cass R. (2018). The cost-benefit revolution. MIT Press. USA.

• Bishop, R.C. et al. (2017). "Pulling a value on injuries to natural assets: The BP oil spill. Science, 356 (6335): 253-254.

• Dolan P. & Kahneman D. (2008) "Interpretations of utility and their implications for the valuation of health". Economic Journal, 118, 215-234.

• Dolan, P. & Metcalfe, R. (2012) "Measuring subjective wellbeing: recommendations on measures for use by national governments". Journal of social policy, 41 (2), pp. 409-427.

• Sunstein, C. R. (2015). The ethics of nudging. Yale Journal on Regulation, 32(2), 413-450.

• Lades, L.K. and Delaney, L. (2020). Nudge FORGOOD . Behavioural Public Policy. 1-20.


Coursework (100%, 4000 words) in the LT.

The summative assessment will be a detailed proposal (which can be based on the formative). 

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
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills