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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 randomized 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?
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.
Structure and content
This full-time course consists of two 15 week semesters of taught modules and a three-month dissertation period.
Students on the MSc in Behavioural Science programme will start the semester at Stirling Management School with an intensive period of learning to learn and teambuilding activities. This induction period (15th to 26th September) is introduced to enable students to develop new learning styles and understand the expectations that will be placed on them through an engaged and exploratory approach. Students will learn about themselves and their own interactional and learning styles.
Students also learn about others and gain an appreciation of a diverse range of approaches to learning, along with cultural and individual differences. They will also discover more about the exciting year ahead, and what is expected of them. This induction period provides a foundation of activities to help students to fully integrate with the course and their fellow students so that they have opportunity to gain the maximum out of the course and their interactions with others.
The overall aim is for students to be fully engaged so that they are equipped to embark on the formal teaching course invigorated and committed to the journey ahead with newly developed intellectual, interactional and presentational skills.
The 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.
In Semester 1 you take the following modules:
- Behavioural Science for Economics and Business
- Behavioural Economics 1: Concepts and Theories
- The Person in Context
- Advances Statistics for Psychology / Economics Elective
Advanced Statistics: The teaching is aimed at introducing the packages available to psychologists, at advanced methods such as multivariate statistics and at the rationale of using statistical methods.
Economics Elective courses, options include the following:
- Economics for Business and Finance
- Financial Economics
- Energy and Resource Economics
- Environmental Valuation and Methods
In Semester 2 you will take the following modules:
- Behavioural Economics II: Business & Policy Applications
- Experiments for Decision Making in Business and Policy
- Advanced Behavioural Research Methods
- Behavioural Science Seminar Series and Journal Club
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.
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 Behaviour Science at Stirling?
- Behavioural Science is a growing area for business and policy with fascinating insights into human behaviour and wideranging practical implications. The Programme 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 programme 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 eight 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 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.