Behavioural Decision Making for Finance

MSc, Postgraduate Diploma

98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16).


The major players in the financial sector* recognise that tendencies in behaviour can have an impact on financial outcomes. In response to this, investment banks are increasingly adopting strategies informed by behavioural thinking. With the advent of big data, there's an unprecedented opportunity to uncover winning behavioural investment strategies - but only for the behaviourally-literate.

Drawing on the combined expertise of Stirling's Accounting and Finance Division, Economics Division and Behavioural Science Centre, this course will give you the analytical skills you'll need for a successful career in banking, finance and related areas.

The course will cover the core theories in financial decision-making, and in the rapidly growing field of behavioural economics. You'll develop the critical and technical skills to assess and develop investment strategies, product designs and regulations.

(*Including Goldman SachsMorgan Stanley and regulators such as the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and the US Federal Reserve.)

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Study methods: Full-time
  • Duration: MSc Full-time: One year; Diploma: nine months
  • Start date:


  • Course Director: Dr David Comerford
  • Location: Stirling Campus
Download course leaflet
Download postgraduate prospectus

Course Director

Dr David Comerford

Stirling Management School
University of Stirling

  1. Our graduates are shaping behavioural policy in the UK at the world-famous Behavioural Insights Team or “Nudge unit”, in Ireland and in Singapore.
  2. The course has been designed by the Behavioural Science Centre at Stirling, a leading European research centre, giving you access to the most up-to-date course content.
  3. You will benefit from the vibrant research environment and the links with industry and policy groups, from web start-ups to charities and the Scottish Government.
  4. Students will benefit from expert lectures and specialist guest lectures from leading researchers and policy-makers.


Course objectives

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

• Aquire the technical skills needed to develop and 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.
• Develop communication skills to highlight the value added by our evidence-based approach.


What makes us different?

Innovative trading Boot Camp with Amplify Trading

As part of the Stirling Management School's focus on enhancing the employability of graduates, we run a free, week-long trading masterclass in conjunction with London-based Amplify Trading for students at the end of the Spring Semester.

The Boot Camp won the CFA Institute’s Innovative Delivery of Education (IDEA) Award in 2015

Learn more about the Boot Camp


At the University of Stirling Management School, we are committed to ensuring that every single one of our students realise their potential.

The graduate job market has never been more competitive, and greater focus is now being placed on finding graduates who can demonstrate a wide array of skills, competences and experiences.

Find out more about employability

Employability video

Business Engagement

The University of Stirling Management School equips students to flourish as effective managers in the workplace through enhanced self-awareness, critical thinking, leadership and team-working skills.

Find out more about business engagement

Business Engagement

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

Learn more

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

Watch our videos now

Live Life

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Academic requirements
You’ll need a minimum of a second class Honours degree or equivalent. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant and relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

International students
The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications:

  • IELTS: 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in speaking & listening and 6.5 in reading & writing.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade B.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade A.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 67 with a minimum of 55 in each component.
  • IBT TOEFL: 100 with no sub test lower than 20.

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. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

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

Fees and costs


2018/19 Overseas £15,250
2018/19 Home/EU £7,900


Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & 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.

Other scholarships and funding

You may qualify for University funding as well as funding from government bodies, the European Commission, funding trusts, research councils, industry and employers.

Further information on possible sources of funding »


Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

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.

The second semester will focus in on specific financial sectors (of the student’s choosing) and will teach students how to apply behavioural science to uncover new insights in the financial realm.

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


Delivery and assessment

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

Assessment is by a mixture of examination and coursework including written assignments and presentations. Students are assessed on their capacity to identify a behavioural theory that offers useful predictions regarding investment or consumer behaviour; to derive implications from this theory for product design; to communicate this theory and its implications to a lay audience in a clear yet comprehensive manner; and to present data analysis that tests the theory. 

When you successfully complete the taught element you will be eligible to receive a diploma. 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.


In semester 1 you take the following modules:

BSMP001 - Behavioural Economics I: Concepts and Theories

INVP001 - Corporate Finance

BFIP013 - Quantitative Methods in Finance

In semester 2 you take the following modules:

BSMP006 - Business and Finance Applications of Behavioural Science

BSMP004 - Experiments for Decision Making in Business and Policy

FINP006 -  Behavioural Finance

ACCP009 - Empirical Methods of Finance and Accounting

And one of the following 10 credit modules;

INVP012 - Investments: Equity Portfolio and Pricing

INVP013 - Investments: Fixed Income and Alternative Investments

FINP013 -  International Corporate Finance

FINP014 -  Mergers and Acquisitions

During the summer you will undertake your dissertation – module code BSMP098

Recommended reading

Akerlof, G. A., & Shiller, R. J. (2010). Animal spirits: How human psychology drives the economy, and why it matters for global capitalism. Princeton University Press.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. Macmillan.


Why Stirling?


In REF2014 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 recognised in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), an examination conducted by the UK government, which confirmed our place in the UK's top 25 institutions 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.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .


Wide-ranging expertise

This course has been developed in close collaboration between the Economics and Accounting and Finance divisions within Stirling Management School and the Behavioural Science Centre at Stirling, a leading European research centre. Our wide ranging expertise is coupled with industry knowledge and we regularly consult with the pensions industry, personal finance professionals and banks.

Networking opportunities

Many of our postgraduate students come from overseas. Studying at Stirling offers an excellent opportunity to establish your own global network of contacts at the outset of your career.

Professional development for long-term success

Our Flying Start Leadership Programme helps you develop self-awareness about your strengths and acquire new competencies in a supportive environment.


The University of Stirling Management School was ranked among the Top 25 in the UK for business and management in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014).

Our students

At least 98% of our postgraduate students are in work or further studies within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16). Many of our alumni are now working in leading organisations across the world.


Our staff

The Programme Director for this course 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:


Careers and employability

Career opportunities

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

Through this course, our students will be equipped with theory and quantitative skills that will make them very attractive to potential employers. Typical employers could include investment banks, stockbrokers, FinTech, insurance companies, personal financial advisors and financial regulators.

By coupling 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.


Employability video

employability video promotion

Business engagement video

industry promotional video


98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16

The projects and dissertation project are purposely designed to be applicable to industry and so will serve as a portfolio that students can bring with them to the job market.

We have occasional seminars from industry professionals such as Irrational Insights, a personal financial advice company with whom we have a very close working relationship. 

Early in the autumn semester we will have a seminar from a representative of Student Enterprise about models of enterprise that have successfully sprung out from the Stirling Management School.

Stirling Management School also deliver a ‘Flying Start Leadership Programme’ to all of its PGT students. It is an induction programme which takes place over the first two weeks of the autumn semester. This programme, which is designed and developed around graduate attributes and skills, brings students from all of the courses within the Management School to develop their cultural awareness, be self-aware by understanding their preferences and questioning their values, provide the tools and facilitation which encourage students to develop a personal development plan and facilitate an understanding of the impact individuals have on a team and how to manage conflict within a team. 

Progressing from FSLP, students are encouraged to attend the Take-Off conference which takes place during Spring semester. This is a full day conference which comprises of Career Skills workshops, a keynote speaker, and a plenary session with leading businesses.

Industry connections

We regularly consult with the pensions industry, personal finance professionals and banks.

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