Introduction to Behavioural Economics

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
20 February 2024


Requisites for this module
EC111 or EC101



Key module for

BSC C814 Psychology with Economics,
BSC C815 Psychology with Economics (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C816 Psychology with Economics (Including Placement Year),
BSC C817 Psychology with Economics (Including Foundation Year),
BA C841 Economics with Psychology,
BA C851 Economics with Psychology (Including Year Abroad),
BA C861 Economics with Psychology (Including Placement Year),
BSC C148 Economics with Psychology,
BSC C149 Economics with Psychology (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C158 Economics with Psychology (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C168 Economics with Psychology (Including Placement Year)

Module description

This module introduces students to the field of behavioural economics which combines economic analysis with insights from psychology to understand human behaviour.

This module is offered at level 5 (second year undergraduate) and at level 6 (third year undergraduate). While the content is the same for both levels, the learning outcomes as assessed in the modules are slightly different between the two levels.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with an understanding of human behaviour through the lens of behavioural economics.

  • To develop an understanding of when the application of behavioural economic analysis is appropriate.

  • To develop an understanding on how behavioural economics can inform economic policies.

  • To be able to critically read and assess the academic literature on behavioural economics.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Have a basic understanding of how behavioural economics can improve our understanding of human behaviour.

  2. Apply economic reasoning to derive the main predictions of behavioural economics models and compare them with standard economic models.

  3. Interpret empirical evidence on behavioural economics and to understand its relevance to the related economic application.

  4. Use behavioural economic principles to analyse economic policies.

Module information


  • Topic 1: Introduction: why do we need behavioural economics?
    We discuss how and why behavioural economics emerged and which methods are used.

  • Topic 2: Risk: how do we make decisions under risk?
    We review expected utility and discuss risk aversion.

  • Topic 3: Prospect Theory: how do we make risky decisions (involving losses)?
    We discuss prospect theory and its implications.

  • Topic 4: Applications of Prospect Theory
    We discuss what we can learn from the theory and how we can apply it to various contexts.

  • Topic 5: Time: how do we make intertemporal decisions?
    We discuss discounted utility and self-control issues.

  • Topic 6: Heuristics: how do we make decisions?
    We discuss how heuristics help make decisions in complex situations.

  • Topic 7: Social preferences: how do we make decisions that also influence others?
    We experience and discuss different ways of making decisions that also involve others.

  • Topic 8: Social preferences: how can we explain them?
    We discuss other-regarding preferences with a focus on fairness and reciprocity.

  • Topic 9: Nudging: how can we influence decision-making?
    We discuss how nudges can be used to induce behaviour change.

  • Topic 10: Policy: should we influence decision making?
    We discuss ethical considerations of nudges and alternative methods to affect choices

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • 20 hours of lectures over one term.
  • Ten 1-hour classes

The module material can be accessed online in Moodle.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Assignment    100% 
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Open Book, 120 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: In-Person, Open Book, 120 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Lisa Spantig, email:
Lectures: Lisa Spantig / Classes: various teachers
For further information send an email message to



External examiner

Mr Teng Ge
Available via Moodle
Of 646 hours, 45 (7%) hours available to students:
601 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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