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MSc Behavioural Decision Making for Finance

Our MSc Behavioural Decision Making for Finance will teach you how to implement successful strategies in the finance sector based on behavioural thinking.

Behavioural Decision Making for Finance

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date September
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months
  • Mode of study Full-time, Campus based, Stand-alone modules

This course is designed to make you uniquely competitive in a newly recognized employment niche. There is a deficit of individuals who both rigorously understand financial data and can predict when customers will become befuddled, bored or mistrustful of the communications issued by the financial world.

Drawing on the combined expertise of our Behavioural Science Centre and Stirling's Accounting and Finance Division, this program will train you in the skills needed to design customers’ journeys through the world of personal and corporate finance.

As well as giving you a thorough grounding in behavioural decision making generally (e.g. the role of emotions and attentional biases in judgment and decision making; the rich array of conscious and unconscious motivations that guide behaviour), our Masters course covers the core theories in financial decision-making. You'll develop the critical skills to assess investment strategies, product designs and regulations, plus the technical skills to develop and pilot test your ideas.

This course will give you the skills you'll need for a successful career in finance, insurance, trading, real estate, banking, regulation, consultancy and related areas.

Amplify Trading Boot Camp

The course also includes an innovative week-long global financial trading and training boot camp run by our partner Amplify. The boot camp won the CFA Institute Innovative Delivery of Education (IDEA) global award and gives you the chance to trade futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. By letting you trade in real time, but with virtual money, the boot camp bridges the gap between an academic understanding of financial markets and how they function in practice. 


Students on the MSc Behavioural Decision Making for Finance program will be eligible to win the Keep Scotland Beautiful Prize for Best Research in Behavioural Science relating to the Environment.

Student Managed Investment Fund

Our students have established a Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF), with support of our academics within the Accounting and Finance Division. The SMIF allows you to gain practical experience of managing investments with real money. A student-led project, it will help you to enhance your employability before you graduate – giving you exceptional practical understanding of theoretical aspects of investment valuation. Find out more about the Student Managed Investment Fund, the regular guest speakers and how you can get involved at the SMIF website.

The University of Stirling Management School

At the University of Stirling Management School, the principle of responsible business, policy and practice is central to everything we do. This vision helps us to equip our students effectively with the skills to act as global citizens, capable of addressing the needs of society.

As a member of the Chartered Association for Business Schools, we have strong links with industry and were recently awarded the Small Business Charter for engagement with local and regional enterprise.

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Course objectives

    MSc Behavioural Decision Making for Finance teaches you how behavioural tendencies impact upon financial outcomes. This course will provide you with the opportunity to:

    • develop the critical and technical skills needed to develop and assess pilot test investment strategies, product designs and regulations
    • learn the research skills required to predict market performance
    • design attractive financial products and anticipate the direct and indirect impacts of regulations
    • gain the critical skills required to assess investment strategies, financial products and financial regulations
    • cultivate communication skills to highlight the value added by our evidence-based approach
    Preparing business leaders of the future

    Postgraduate education at the University of Stirling Management School goes beyond text books and lecture rooms, we also focus on your personal and professional development.

    Our unique Flying Start Leadership programme equips you with the awareness, knowledge and techniques essential for building a successful career. These range from practical skills, like effective public speaking, to developing ways to work under pressure in difficult situations and manage conflict. Find out more about Flying Start.

    Developing real-world experience

    As part of our focus on enhancing your employability we offer an intensive trading Boot Camp. Delivered on campus in conjunction with industry training specialist Amplify, the course helps you to bridge the gap between academic theories of financial markets and the real world.

    See more about our trading boot camp.

  • Flexible learning

    If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

  • Research

    In REF2014, the University of Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent. 

    The reputation of our research at Stirling Management School was also recognised, where we placed top 25 in the UK for Business and Management, out of over 100 business schools.  In Scotland, the School was ranked in the top five. 

    64% of our research outputs were classified as world-leading and internationally excellent in terms of their originality, significance and rigor and we were ranked 14th in the UK in terms of research impact with over 60% of our research impact judged to have outstanding reach and wide-ranging impact on the policies of public, private and governmental organisations.

  • Academic requirements

    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 have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

    • IELTS 6.0 with 5.5 in each skill
    • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 169 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 54 overall with a minimum of 51 in each sub-skill
    • IBT TOEFL 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing
    • Trinity ISE II Pass overall with a Pass in each sub-skill, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills

    Last updated: 5 December 2019

    For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.

  • Pre-sessional English language courses

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

    Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Learn from the experts

You’ll benefit from the vibrant research community within our Behavioural Science Centre, where there’s a regular programme of visiting speakers, leading academics, and policy and industry professionals. There’s also the opportunity work closely with course staff who have published in leading peer-reviewed outlets on:

  • Forecasting
  • Risk and how to communicate it
  • Altruism
  • Donating behaviour
  • Survey design
  • Selective Attention
  • Priming, including Mortality Salience
  • The optimal design of nudges
  • The ethics of nudging
  • The replication crisis in the social sciences

And have applied their research to an extensive set of areas including:

  • Stock market forecasting
  • Currency market forecasting
  • insurance markets
  • employment and HR
  • pensions saving
  • pensions decumulation
  • real estate markets

The full-time course consists of two 15 week semesters of taught modules and a three month dissertation period.

The first semester will cover the core toolkit required for understanding the financial world and interpreting it through a behavioural lens. In the second semester you’ll focus in on specific financial sectors of your choosing. You’ll be taught how to apply behavioural science to uncover new insights in the financial realm.

The dissertation project requires you to write an investment prospectus that proposes a behaviourally informed investment portfolio or other financial product.



The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery in the next academic intake of this course. These may be subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes.

Course Details

  • Teaching

    Delivery includes lectures, seminars, guest speakers, article discussion groups and presentations.

    When you successfully complete the taught element you will be eligible to receive a diploma. Alternatively, you can then continue for the award of MSc by writing an investment prospectus that proposes a behaviourally informed investment portfolio or other financial product.

  • Assessment

    Assessment is by a mixture of examination and coursework including written assignments and presentations. You’re assessed on your capacity to:

    • identify a behavioural theory that offers useful predictions regarding investment or consumer behaviour
    • derive implications from this theory for product design
    • communicate this theory and its implications to a lay audience in a clear yet comprehensive manner
    • present data analysis that tests the theory
  • Course director
  • Key staff

    The Course Director is Dr David Comerford. Dr Comerford is a Lecturer in the Economics division and the Behavioural Science Centre. He works with policy makers and businesses in the USA, UK and Ireland, applying his research findings to improve decision making. 

    Other staff involved with the course are:

    Ask an expert

    Dr Kevin Campbell

    Hear from Dr Kevin Campbell who researches primarily in the fields of corporate finance and corporate governance.

    Read more

  • Fees and costs

    Fees shown are per year (fees are different for each course)


    Home/EU Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course*

    If you’re domiciled in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover your tuition fees and associated living costs. Students domiciled in the EU can also apply for tuition fee support, although may not be eligible to receive funding to support living costs.

    If you're domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you should be eligible to apply for a loan from your regional body.

    English students apply for a loan of up to £10,609 per year as part of the UK Postgraduate Loan Scheme, Welsh students can apply for a non-means tested loan of up to £13,000 from the Welsh Government and Northern Irish students are eligible to apply for support of up to £5,500.

    *Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.


    Overseas (Non-EU) Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course. Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.


    Please note: You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

  • Scholarships and funding
    Stirling Management School postgraduate scholarships

    Stirling Management School is committed to investing in academically talented students, helping them to further their education with one of our degree courses. There are various categories of funding available to support the cost of your studies.

    If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

    Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

  • Additional costs

    There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

  • Cost of living

    If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

    EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

    Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

  • Payment options

    We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

Major players in the financial sector, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, have published papers recognising the impact of behavioural biases on financial markets. Increasingly, employers are looking for qualified candidates who can create behavioural investment strategies.

By studying this course, you’ll be armed with theory and quantitative skills that will make you very attractive to potential employers. Typical employers could include investment banks, stockbrokers, FinTech, insurance companies, personal financial advisors and financial regulators.

By combining behavioural science with finance, this qualification will especially appeal to employers who wish to find arbitrage opportunities (i.e. value) in the financial markets and need to forecast consumer response to products.

Your future employability is our focus: 

  • Our Flying Start Leadership Programme helps you develop self-awareness about your strengths and acquire new competencies for future study and employment.
  • 96% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2016/17).
  • The projects and dissertation project are designed to be applicable to business, serving as a portfolio you can bring with you to the job market.
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