PB4A7      Half Unit
Quantitative Applications for Behavioural Science

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ganga Shreedhar


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

Course content

The main aim is to familiarize students with the main statistical tools required to understand the myriad contextual and individual-level causes of human behaviour and to put students in a position to do their own research. The course will cover leading methods used by psychologists and economists to test behavioural science hypotheses about cause-effect questions. It will first introduce students to null hypothesis testing and regression analysis. It will then delve into quasi-experimental methods like differences-in-differences, regression discontinuity design and instrumental variables regression. Students will learn how to identify, interpret, and critically evaluate different research designs, to eventually conducting their own data analysis and writing a report of the same. They will keep abreast of contemporary methodological debates and best practices in data analysis in psychology and economics, apart from learning to critically appraise and navigate behavioural science studies from a methodological perspective. To this end, there will also be an emphasis on teaching students how the same analyses are presented in psychology and economics so students can understand how to integrate research from these two fields that constitute behavioural science. This course complements 'Experimental Design and Methods for Behavioural Science' (PB413), which covers experimental design and research for MSc Behavioural Science students.


The course is delivered in Michaelmas Term (MT) over 10 lectures of 1 hour and 10 weekly seminar sessions of 1 hour. Students on this course will have a reading week in MT Week 6. There will also be additional lab help sessions.

Formative coursework

  • Problem sets: Students will have to complete and submit weekly problem sets. Some of  these will be randomly selected to provide indicative assessment, and two will be randomly selected for summative assessment (see below).
  • Weekly quizzes: Students will undertake a short quiz during weeks 1-5 and 7-11 week as a concept check. The quiz will be available electronically via Moodle for one week from on Monday to Friday.
  • All formative coursework is compulsory.

Indicative reading


  • Stock, J.H. and Watson, M.W., 2019. Introduction to Econometrics. Pearson Global Education.
  • Angrist, J.D. and Pischke, J.S., 2014. Mastering Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect. Princeton University Press.
  • Firebaugh, G., 2018. Seven Rules for Social Research. Princeton University Press.

Indicative reading:

  • Marinescu, I.E., Lawlor, P.N. and Kording, K.P., 2018. Quasi-experimental causality in neuroscience and behavioural research. Nature Human Behaviour, p.1.
  • Varian, H.R., 2016. Causal inference in economics and marketing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(27), pp.7310-7315.
  • Angrist, J.D. and Pischke, J.S., 2010. The credibility revolution in empirical economics: How better research design is taking the con out of econometrics. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(2), pp.3-30.
  • Deaton, A., 2020. Randomization in the tropics revisited: a theme and eleven variations (No. w27600). National Bureau of Economic Research.


Report (70%) and poster (30%) in the ST.

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: 54

Average class size 2020/21: 14

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills