Behavioural science is a rapidly growing area for policy and business with fascinating insights into human behaviour and wide-ranging practical implications.
This exciting, new course teaches the core theory and methods of behavioural science and behavioural economics, and how these can be applied to important business and policy-relevant issues.
This MSc is aimed at students with a very strong intrinsic motivation to study the link between economics, psychology, business and policy. The MSc is taught by dedicated staff from the Behavioural Science Centre who have extensive experience in integrating insights from economics and psychology to address key societal challenges.
The MSc offers students the opportunity to gain advanced training in behavioural theory, to learn a comprehensive suite of behavioural methods, and to understand how this ‘toolkit’ can be applied to understand and inform the decisions made by stakeholders, workers and consumers.
Behavioural science and behavioural economics seek to answer key questions about how people behave and what influences the decisions they make, for example:
- What determines whether people are impulsive, take risks, or cooperate?
- What factors influence behavioural change?
- What influence do different cultures and societies have on human behaviour?
Behavioural science uses the knowledge derived from the study of such questions to develop solutions to crucial economic, political, commercial and social challenges, for example:
- How can we increase the efficient use of energy?
- How can pension savings rates be increased?
- How can randomised controlled trials be used to test and evaluate public policy?
- How do we ensure consumers find value and make purchases they are satisfied with?
- How can compliance with laws and regulations be increased?
The general aims of the course are as follows:
- To provide an understanding of core topics in psychology, and how insights from behavioural science are relevant to and can be applied to business and economics.
- To enable students to develop a detailed understanding of the key concepts of behavioural economics.
- To develop an appreciation of how concepts from behavioural science have been and can be applied in business settings and in policy domains and the challenges which accompany this task in multiple contexts.
- To develop the capacity to understand the role of individual difference factors in shaping responses to and behaviours in different economic circumstances and business settings
- To enhance understanding of the role of experiments in identifying decision processes and enabling behaviour change
- To develop the ability to understand and carry out complex statistical analyses and sophisticated behavioural research methods
- To become aware of the data sources available to researchers in behavioural science and how best to utilise these resources to study business and policy-relevant issues
- To develop an appreciation of unfolding trends in the behavioural science and behavioural economics literatures and to gain key insights from leading experts in the field.
A minimum of a second class honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 (6.0 in all bands).
If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.
Our range of pre-sessional courses.
Course start date
Structure and content
This full-time course consists of two 15-week semesters of taught modules and a three-month dissertation period.
Preparing and supporting students through their postgraduate studies
September 2014 will see the introduction of an intensive and invigorating period of ‘learning to learn’ for Stirling Management School’s postgraduate students. Activities, workshops and information sessions held during this period will help students better prepare for the year ahead in order to ensure that they make the most of their time at Stirling. Students will be provided with an opportunity to develop the necessary skills required to ensure that they can interact and engage with others and fully explore the subjects and themes covered by their course.
Providing students with the very best start to their studies, these activities will support students to:
- discover more about the exciting period of learning ahead;
- develop an understanding of the course expectations;
- get to know the teaching team and support staff;
- learn more about a diverse range of approaches to learning;
- understand what it takes to work as part of a successful team;
- develop presentation skills and build confidence in public speaking;
- learn about cultural and individual differences;
- discover all that the University campus and the vibrant city of Stirling has to offer;
- maximise their time studying at Stirling;
- have fun and make new friends.
By the end of this period, students will be fully prepared to embark upon the formal teaching course invigorated and committed to the journey ahead with newly developed skills.
The MSc in Behavioural Science course content is designed to be highly relevant to those aiming to pursue careers in business (e.g. human resource management, advertising, regulation, social marketing and survey research) and those who wish to inform the design and implementation of public policy. The course also provides an excellent entry for those thinking of progressing to PhD research in this area.
The course content is designed specifically to provide skills and experience including:
- Core training in areas of psychological science most relevant to business and policy
- In-depth knowledge of the key concepts of behavioural economics
- Specific knowledge and experience in how behavioural science can be applied to business and policy questions
- Sound understanding of growing areas such as experimental approaches to business and policy questions and strategies to enable behaviour change
- Detailed statistical and methodological training
- Ability to design and analyse surveys and survey data
- Ability to use advanced experimental and empirical techniques
- Ability to confidently present research
- The capacity to conduct independent research projects that test hypotheses in applied settings
Delivery and assessment
You have an active role in your learning experience. Delivery includes lectures, seminars, guest speakers, article discussion groups, and presentations, followed by a three-month dissertation period. Assessment is by a mixture of examination and coursework, including written assignments and presentations. Successful completion of the taught element of the programme leads to the award of the Diploma or allows you to continue for the award of the MSc by completing a 15,000-word dissertation based on an original research question agreed by yourself and your supervisor. The project should reflect your own understanding and knowledge of selected topics learnt during taught modules.
- Ariely, D. (2008). Predictably irrational. New York: Harper-Collins.
- Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
- Levitt, S. D., & Dubner. S. J. (2005). Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything . New York: HarperCollins.
- Thaler, R.H., & Sunstein, C.R. (2008). Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.
- Dolan, P., Hallsworth, M., Halpern, D., King, D., Metcalfe, R., & Vlaev, I. (2012). Inﬂuencing behaviour: the mindspace way. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33, 264–277
- Erta, K., Hunt, S., Iscenko, S., & Brambley, W. (2013). Applying behavioural economics at the Financial Conduct Authority. Financial Conduct Authority Occasional Paper No 1.
- Haynes, L., Service, O., Goldacre, B., & Torgerson, D. (2012). Test, Learn, Adapt: Developing Public Policy with Randomised Controlled Trials. London: Cabinet Office.
- House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee. (2011). Behaviour Change Report. London: TSO.
- O'Donnell, G., Deaton, A., Durand, M., Halpern, D., & Layard, R. (2014). Well-being and policy. Legatum Institute Report.
- Sunstein, C.R. (2011). Empirically informed regulation. University of Chicago Law Review, 78, 1349-1429.
In Semester 1 you take the following modules:
Statistics: The teaching introduces the packages available to behavioural scientists at advanced methods such as multivariate statistics and at the rationale of using statistical methods.
In Semester 2 you will take the following modules:
During the summer you will undertake your dissertation.
Dr Michael Daly
The reputation of our research at Stirling Management School was recognised in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), where 85% of our research activity was rated as being of ‘International Signiﬁcance’.
Why study Behavioural Science at Stirling?
- Behavioural Science is a growing area for business and policy with fascinating insights into human behaviour and wide–ranging practical implications. The course has been developed in consultation with the Behavioural Science Centre at Stirling. The centre holds grants from the EU Commission, SIRE, ESRC and Templeton foundation and aims to become a leading research centre in behavioural science in Europe.
- Students will benefit from the vibrant research environment and the links with Industry and Policy groups being developed by the School. External Collaborations include the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica and Gallup Europe.
- The Curriculum is designed and delivered by academic staff with strong research expertise in these subject fields. The Stirling Behavioural Science Centre are producing strong research in this area, published in leading journals and disseminated widely through the press (including the Financial Times and Time magazine).
- An innovative interdisciplinary course of teaching and research relevant to business & policy.
- The opportunity to acquire valued research skills, knowledge and experience of how these skills can be applied in business and policy domains. There is a demand for these skills within various industries (see career opportunities)
- In a single year, study six modules over two semesters and complete a dissertation on a specific topic in behavioural science in the third semester.
- Expert lecturers and specialist guest lectures from leading researchers and policy-makers.
The sector of behavioural science is a growing area within Management Schools, with many leading Schools placing a strong emphasis on behavioural approaches. The MSc in Behavioural Science for Management draws from the extensive experience of the academic staff from the Behavioural Sciences Centre at Stirling Management School. In the past four years the centre staff have published over 100 research papers on key topics in behavioural science. This research feeds directly into the course design and delivery and provides opportunities for students to conduct thesis research on topics at the leading-edge in behavioural science. The Behavioural Science Centre is an interdisciplinary hub and this has allowed approaches from economics, psychology, management and policy-design to be strongly integrated into the MSc course. The transdisciplinary nature of the course aims to enable students to produce innovative solutions to important challenges that transcend any single discipline.
Michael Daly is Course Director of the MSc in Behavioural Science for Management. His research focuses on the link between human health and well-being and how these relate to economic factors, like income, and personality traits, such as self-control.
Previously Michael has been a Trinity College Dublin Ussher Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar in Florida State University, a lecturer in the School of Psychology in the University of Manchester, and a Government of Ireland CARA Fellow researching at the University of Aberdeen and funded by the Irish Research Council and the Marie Curie Programme.
His related tags:
- Health Psychology
- Child Psychology
- Mental Health
- Economics and Psychology
- Behavioural Medicine
Michael was recently awarded the Early Career Award by the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine (UKSBM) at a ceremony held in Manchester.
The Early Career Award provides annual recognition of the work of promising early career researchers in behavioural medicine in the UK.
What we say
Behavioural science has provided a persuasive account of human decision-making that is increasingly informing policy and business thinking worldwide. This course aims to meet industry demand for behavioural skills from business areas like marketing and retail as well as demand from government and state agencies focusing on policy-design and implementation.
Dr. Michael Daly, Course Director.
This course will expose students to new thinking in how the findings and methods of behavioural science can be used to develop novel solutions to critical societal issues. To do this, we offer advanced theoretical and methodological training with an applied focus that will enable students to understand how decisions are made, can be improved, and behaviour changed. This training could form an excellent basis for doctoral research in behavioural science, and to take advantage of PhD opportunities both in Stirling and further afield.
Prof. Liam Delaney, Behavioural Science Centre.
On completion of this course students will be ready and able to contribute innovative solutions to many businesses, governments and society.
The specialist knowledge they acquire in behavioural science will be invaluable in building long-term careers in business (e.g. human resource management, advertising, regulation, consumer marketing, social marketing and survey research) and those who wish to inform the design and implementation of public policy.
The course also provides an excellent entry for those thinking of progressing to doctoral research in this area.
Industry demand for skills
- Policy: The Cabinet Office has a Behavioural Insights team, which draws on insights from the growing body of academic research in the fields of behavioural science and psychology. The concepts and methods employed by the Behavioural Insights team are now being adopted in other countries and amongst those involved in policy implementation more generally.
- Marketing and Market Research: Key skills desired in marketing and market research include the ability to apply behavioural theory and methods to understand product pricings, promotion, and consumer perceptions. Part of this involves the understanding of the characteristics of customers, so that they can be grouped and targeted in customised ways.
- Human Resources: There is a demand for skills within organisation development, organisation design, resourcing and talent development as well as employee engagement within the HR environment.
- Survey Research: Government, state agencies, and businesses have demonstrated a strong demand for high quality survey data. Companies delivering this service seek sophisticated survey operations skills including knowledge of data collection modes, survey design, survey completion behaviour, formatting, quality control, and distribution.
- Business: Business and management careers now place increasing value on the capacity to apply behavioural insights to business challenges and to gather evidence using experimental methods.
By the end of the course, students will possess the following understanding and skills:
- an ability to carry out complex statistics, design behavioural experiments and implement behavioural research methods;
- a capacity to integrate the knowledge and understanding amassed throughout the course and apply this to successfully tackle substantive issues in business and policy;
- an ability to use a conceptual understanding of complex conceptual, design and statistical issues to understand, critically evaluation and apply insights from emerging research in behavioural economics and related disciplines.
Alongside acquiring an in-depth knowledge of the concepts and methods of behavioural science, students future development and employability will benefit from a set of core skills that the course aims to foster. These include the ability to:
Written and oral communication skills
- present arguments clearly and concisely both in writing and orally;
- give a direct and concise answer to a question;
- present both brief summaries that identify the key points and fuller treatments of a topic that are well structured;
- present a balanced view of different opinions on an issue;
- use suitable means of presenting arguments, e.g. visual aids in oral presentations, diagrams in written work;
- contribute constructively to a group discussion;
- communicate concisely to different audiences, including those with no academic training.
Analysis and problem-solving
The ability to:
- deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively;
- abstract and simplify in order to identify the essence of a problem;
- analyse, reason and develop logical arguments;
- identify what should be taken as given or fixed for the purpose of solving a problem;
- set up and analyse a model;
- marshal and evaluate evidence;
- make sound judgements in the absence of complete data;
- assimilate, structure and analyse qualitative and quantitative data;
- think critically about the limits of any analysis;
- draw policy conclusions and recognise the potential constraints on their implementation;
- evaluate alternative strategies;
- keep an open mind about different methodological approaches;
- relate issues to a wider context;
- think imaginatively and creatively.
The ability to:
- search out relevant material;
- frame and ask questions that elicit the information required;
- synthesise relevant material;
- learn independently;
- make use of the services of libraries and other sources of help and information;
- continue to advance knowledge and understanding;
- develop new skills to a higher level.
The ability to:
- work under pressure and meet deadlines;
- work methodically and manage time effectively;
- plan projects and prioritise tasks;
- set personal goals and evaluate personal performance;
- demonstrate self-direction and the capacity to work without supervision;
- take initiative and develop ideas independently.
Computing and statistics
The ability to:
- use information technology;
- use and interpret statistics.
You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.
Behavioural Science for Management Scholarships
Two scholarships (with a value of £6,000 each towards tuition fees) will be awarded for the MSc in Behavioural Science for Management offered by the Stirling Management School. To apply for a Behavioural Science Scholarship follow the link below:
Stirling Management School Postgraduate Scholarships
Stirling Management School is committed to investing in academically talented students, enabling them to further their education with a reputable qualification from one of the many postgraduate degree courses on offer at the University of Stirling. There are various categories of funding available to support the cost of your studies at Stirling Management School.
Further information on possible sources of funding.