MG311 Half Unit
Foundations of Behavioural Decision Science
This information is for the 2022/23 session.
Dr Luc Schneider
This course is available on the BSc in Management, BSc in Psychological and Behavioural Science, International Exchange (1 Term) and International Exchange (Full Year). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.
This course has a limited number of places (it is capped). Students who have this course as a compulsory course are guaranteed a place. Places for all other students are allocated on a first come first served basis.
It is an advantage to have taken an introductory social science course in one of these fields: economics, management, psychology or sociology.
It is important to be comfortable with multi-disciplinary research and group work.
This course introduces students to the foundations of Behavioural Decision Science: the science that explains and predicts how humans make decisions (the decision ‘process’) and how well (the decision ‘outcome’). The course will explore the different stages of the decision making process identifying factors important in understanding our decision making. Students will be introduced to the concepts of framing, explore the way in which we make judgements, understand the rich and diverse influences of risk, uncertainty and affect (emotions), and investigate strategies for decision making. Throughout the course, students will be introduced to many cognitive biases and aspects of context which influence how/what judgements and decisions we make. In the final portion of the course, student will get the opportunity to see examples of how information/choice designers are seeking to help or influence decision makers or teach skills to help the public or professionals to make better decisions themselves. Many of these concepts and techniques can, and have been applied across personal, professional and policy situations – and the course will provide opportunities to learn about and discuss such applications. Importantly, across both parts of the course, discussion of core concepts and examples will be woven together with new advances and applications in the field, particularly those within the course leader’s field of expertise.
The course is entirely seminar-based, and will combine within the sessions - traditional lecture-style teaching of concepts with hands-on demonstrations of the concepts in action, and in depth class discussions of the week’s material. Examples used within the sessions will be drawn from across a range of different domains which could include managerial, policy, health, emergency response, law, consumer, and even personal domains.
By the end of this course, students will have an understanding of the key concepts in Behavioural Decision Science, be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of human decision making, and be able to recognise and adapt different techniques to improve decision making. The summative will provide an opportunity to show the skills and knowledge you have learnt throughout the course and consists of two parts which are described below.
Teaching hours in the LT will be commensurate with a usual half unit undergraduate course.
This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term, in line with departmental policy.
1. Analysing a real decision maker– Group Presentation (Week 10): Over several weeks (both in and outside class), you will work as a group to analyse a real decision that you will select. In Week 10, you will be required to present a summary of this analysis in a timed group presentation. In this presentation, you will need to report on: 1) what is the key decision being investigated? 2) identify and explain the key judgements that your decision maker is making and what decision making factors (e.g. biases) are at play? and 3) discuss your suggested solution(s) for improving decision making. After the presentation you will receive feedback as a group. This feedback will help you prepare for the summative assessment.
2. Review of anonymous essays (Week 11): Students will play the role of the “examiner” and using anonymous examples of summative assessments (submitted by students from a previous year) explore the different evaluation criteria which are used in this course. This exercise will help you improve your summative assessment.
Bazerman, M. (2017) Judgment in Managerial Decision Making. New York: Wiley. 8th edition;
Hastie, R., and Dawes, R.M. (2001). Rational Choice in an Uncertain World. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks;
Kahneman, D. (2011) Thinking Fast and Slow. London: Allen Lane;
Russo, J. E. & Schoemaker, P. J. H. (2002) Winning decisions: How to make the right decision the first time, Piatkus Publ. Limited.
Coursework (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.
Summative (due beginning of ST): The summative assessment will be a ‘Report and Essay’. It comprises two parts.
Part 1: An “Analysing a Decision Maker” Report: In the first part (no more than 1000 words), you will be asked to write a report detailing the analysis of a decision maker that you completed during the term. You will need to report on: 1) what is the key decision being investigated? 2) identify and explain the key judgements that your decision maker is making and what decision making factors (e.g. biases); and 3) discuss your suggested solution(s) for improving decision making.
Part 2: In-depth Scholarly Essay: In the second part of the coursework (no more than 2000 words), you will choose a topic from within MG311, which you as a developing scholar has found interesting or important and write your in-depth essay on it. This essay should be done in a scholarly and rigorous manner making reference to behavioural literature, theories and concepts.
The first part of the report will count for 50% of your mark while 50% will come from the second part. You will be required to provide full essay-style referencing.
Although the first part of the summative assignment will involve you reporting on the “analysing a decision maker” task conducted with your group, all students will write both parts of the summative essays on their own and will receive an individual mark.
Total students 2021/22: 90
Average class size 2021/22: 30
Capped 2021/22: Yes (90)
Value: Half Unit
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Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills