Behavioural Decision Science MSc

Why choose this course?

Behavioural decision science applies psychological insights into human behaviour to explain how, when, and why people make decisions.

This course, based in the Psychology Department, explores theory and research in behavioural decision science, and examines the application of psychology, behavioural science, and behavioural economics to policy, intervention, and behaviour change in areas such as health, finance, sustainability, and consumer behaviour.

You will gain psychological research methods skills, and critically examine theory and research in four areas of behavioural decision science: Cognitive Psychology, Judgement and Decision Making, Social Psychology, and Decision Neuroscience.

A placement module will build on your workplace or research skills and develop new skills that employers seek. The Behavioural Decision Science MSc prepares you for a variety of private and public sector jobs that require a core understanding of human behaviour and decision-making.

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2022
Part time 2 years September 2022
Location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • Specialist facilities include eye-tracking equipment, a behavioural lab, online research tools and software, an observation suite, and neuropsychological test apparatus.
  • Regular lectures are delivered by highly-regarded researchers in the fields of decision-making, thinking and risk.
  • You may complete a work or research placement project, directly applying the knowledge you gain.

Find out more about this course

Watch a video featuring some of our students talking about the Behavioural Decision Science MSc:

What you will study

You will study recent developments in theories of behavioural science, cognitive psychology, decision-making, and behaviour change, as well as the impact of experience, expertise, social influence, biases, and heuristics, on judgements and choice. The course will introduce you to applications of judgement and decision-making research in areas such as: consumer behaviour; politics; sports; finance; economics; marketing; and health. Your studies will give you a firm basis in both the theory and practice of cognitive psychology, decision-making, and behaviour change. You will also explore current research topics relevant to individual and group decision-making, applications of decision neuroscience, and the psychology of health, environment, and policy-making.

Full time - 1 year

Part-time - 2 years

You will study four core, 30 credit, modules plus a Psychology Dissertation, worth 60 credits.

Core modules

Psychology Dissertation

60 credits

The dissertation project will be based on a critical literature review addressing complex and contradictory evidence and will usually require carrying out an empirical study using one or more methodologies of data collection such as experiments, observation, psychometric testing, surveys and questionnaires, interviews and field studies. In all cases, the dissertation will involve the analysis of quantitative and/or qualitative data, as well as the presentation and critical evaluation of research findings. Through independent study and meetings with a project supervisor, the dissertation project will allow you to better understand the role of research methodologies, theoretical considerations and ethical issues in psychological research.

Methods and Statistics

30 credits

This module is a core module in the MSc Child Psychology and MSc Psychology fields. The module introduces you to the essentials of psychological experimentation and to a range of analysis techniques making use of basic and more advanced (eg. multivariate) methods. Both experimental and correlational methods are considered along with appropriate techniques of data analysis (eg. analysis of variance and multiple regression). Both theoretical and practical aspects of experimentation are discussed. The laboratory workshops combine formal teaching with sessions involving hands-on activities. Core factual material is provided via Canvas with workshops being used to explain key concepts and techniques. The module provides an essential introduction to practical work in psychology, in particular for the MSc dissertation project.

Applications of Psychological Research

30 credits

This module provides students with the opportunity to identify and address real-world issues that can benefit from research input by psychologists. Students will gain an appreciation of the challenges of conducting research in professional settings. They will gain 50 hours of work experience in a placement to identify and/or apply psychological research findings in a chosen context under the supervision of a workplace supervisor. In addition, 10 seminars will be held at the University where case studies and examples from current placements will be used to complement the learning objectives. Students will be required to contribute and draw examples of their experiences in their workplace and how this informs research in their specific placements. 

It is expected that students will arrange their own work placements; their suitability will be discussed and agreed upon with the module leader and/or the course director. In the absence of an external placement, students will be offered a work placement in the Department of Psychology. Here they will contribute to a current programme of research relevant to their studies.

The nature of the work will usually be determined in part by the focus of the postgraduate programme that a student is following. For example, students of child/developmental psychology may choose to collect data or implement research-led practice in local nurseries and schools; students of clinical psychology may evaluate the efficacy of procedures adopted by local rehabilitation services; and students on the Masters in Behavioural Decision Making are likely to choose a placement in organisation that monitors behavioural change.

Please note: where appropriate, students will need to ensure they have CRB checks in place and, if collecting data in the workplace, that appropriate ethical approvals are in place prior to collecting data.

The workplace activity is intended to extend students' independent research skills in relevant contexts as well as enhancing future employability.

Applications of Behavioural Decision Science

30 credits

The Applications of Behavioural Decision Science module provides students with the opportunity to identify and address real-world issues that can benefit from research input by behavioural decision scientists. This module offers interactive lectures (seminars and workshops) for which students will read pre-assigned scientific articles to inform critical discussions on the limitations and implications of these concepts for the development of applied decision-making competence. The module offers applied research training – working in small research groups/teams under the supervision of KU lecturers. The students will also benefit from regular public lectures by internationally recognised researchers.

The Psychology of Thinking, Judgement and Decision-Making

30 credits

This module explores and critically examines theories of cognitive psychology and of judgement and decision-making. It explores the role of perception and memory in categorisation, thinking, judgement and choice. The module also covers recent developments in normative and descriptive theories of choice, as well as the impact of experience and expertise on categorisation and choice. The module encourages students to evaluate critically whether human thinking is rational, and the normative models with which that rationality is measured. It also introduces students to quantitative models of these processes. Finally, it introduces students to applications of judgement and decision making research in areas such as politics, sports, economics and health.

Part-time students will take three core, 30 credit, modules in the first year. In the second year you will take one 30 credit module plus a Psychology Dissertation, worth 60 credits.

Year 1

The Psychology of Thinking, Judgement and Decision-Making

30 credits

This module explores and critically examines theories of cognitive psychology and of judgement and decision-making. It explores the role of perception and memory in categorisation, thinking, judgement and choice. The module also covers recent developments in normative and descriptive theories of choice, as well as the impact of experience and expertise on categorisation and choice. The module encourages students to evaluate critically whether human thinking is rational, and the normative models with which that rationality is measured. It also introduces students to quantitative models of these processes. Finally, it introduces students to applications of judgement and decision making research in areas such as politics, sports, economics and health.

Methods and Statistics

30 credits

This module is a core module in the MSc Child Psychology and MSc Psychology fields. The module introduces you to the essentials of psychological experimentation and to a range of analysis techniques making use of basic and more advanced (eg. multivariate) methods. Both experimental and correlational methods are considered along with appropriate techniques of data analysis (eg. analysis of variance and multiple regression). Both theoretical and practical aspects of experimentation are discussed. The laboratory workshops combine formal teaching with sessions involving hands-on activities. Core factual material is provided via Canvas with workshops being used to explain key concepts and techniques. The module provides an essential introduction to practical work in psychology, in particular for the MSc dissertation project.

Applications of Behavioural Decision Science

30 credits

The Applications of Behavioural Decision Science module provides students with the opportunity to identify and address real-world issues that can benefit from research input by behavioural decision scientists. This module offers interactive lectures (seminars and workshops) for which students will read pre-assigned scientific articles to inform critical discussions on the limitations and implications of these concepts for the development of applied decision-making competence. The module offers applied research training – working in small research groups/teams under the supervision of KU lecturers. The students will also benefit from regular public lectures by internationally recognised researchers.

Year 2

Psychology Dissertation

60 credits

The dissertation project will be based on a critical literature review addressing complex and contradictory evidence and will usually require carrying out an empirical study using one or more methodologies of data collection such as experiments, observation, psychometric testing, surveys and questionnaires, interviews and field studies. In all cases, the dissertation will involve the analysis of quantitative and/or qualitative data, as well as the presentation and critical evaluation of research findings. Through independent study and meetings with a project supervisor, the dissertation project will allow you to better understand the role of research methodologies, theoretical considerations and ethical issues in psychological research.

Applications of Psychological Research

30 credits

This module provides students with the opportunity to identify and address real-world issues that can benefit from research input by psychologists. Students will gain an appreciation of the challenges of conducting research in professional settings. They will gain 50 hours of work experience in a placement to identify and/or apply psychological research findings in a chosen context under the supervision of a workplace supervisor. In addition, 10 seminars will be held at the University where case studies and examples from current placements will be used to complement the learning objectives. Students will be required to contribute and draw examples of their experiences in their workplace and how this informs research in their specific placements. 

It is expected that students will arrange their own work placements; their suitability will be discussed and agreed upon with the module leader and/or the course director. In the absence of an external placement, students will be offered a work placement in the Department of Psychology. Here they will contribute to a current programme of research relevant to their studies.

The nature of the work will usually be determined in part by the focus of the postgraduate programme that a student is following. For example, students of child/developmental psychology may choose to collect data or implement research-led practice in local nurseries and schools; students of clinical psychology may evaluate the efficacy of procedures adopted by local rehabilitation services; and students on the Masters in Behavioural Decision Making are likely to choose a placement in organisation that monitors behavioural change.

Please note: where appropriate, students will need to ensure they have CRB checks in place and, if collecting data in the workplace, that appropriate ethical approvals are in place prior to collecting data.

The workplace activity is intended to extend students' independent research skills in relevant contexts as well as enhancing future employability.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

After you graduate

Graduates from the Behavioural Decision Science MSc will develop research and practical skills essential for careers in health and wellbeing sectors, not-for profit organisations and public sector, commercial sector (such as banks, pension and insurance companies), in addition to professional/managerial jobs and entrepreneurship.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

A 2:1 or above honours degree or equivalent in social science, business, or science. Applicants with a lower-second class degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline that have suitable professional/research experience, and/or other relevant qualifications will be considered.

In addition, applicants must be able to demonstrate mathematical competence equivalent to grade C or above at GCSE level.

International

Please note: most students from countries outside the European Union/European Economic Area and classified as overseas fee paying, are not eligible to apply for part-time courses due to UK student visa regulations. For information on exceptions please visit the UKCISA website or email our CAS and Visa Compliance team.

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirement, which is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in writing and at least 5.5 in all other elements. Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from a recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

When not attending timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

12% of your time is spent in timetabled learning and teaching activity

  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 202 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1548 hours

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

Type of learning and teaching

Type of learning and teaching
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 202 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1548 hours

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises exams (eg test or exam), practical (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation). The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows:

Type of assessment

Type of assessment
  • Coursework: 84%
  • Exams: 10%
  • Practical: 6%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Your timetables

Each student receives a personalised timetable. This is usually available after you have completed your online enrolment, which is typically accessible one month before the start of your course.

Class sizes

You will be part of an intimate cohort of students which supports dedicated academic guidance and advice and the opportunity to build a life-long network of colleagues. Some modules are common across other postgraduate programmes therefore you will be taught alongside students who are on these courses within the School.

Who teaches this course?

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on this course. The team includes senior academics and professional practitioners with industry experience. The following group of staff members are currently involved in the delivery of different elements of this course. This pool is subject to change at any time within the academic year.

Fees for this course

2023/24 fees for this course

Home 2023/24

  • MSc full time £9,860
  • MSc part time £5,423

International 2023/24

  • MSc full time £16,200
  • MSc part time £8,910

2022/23 fees for this course

Home 2022/23

  • MSc full time £9,620
  • MSc part time £5,291

International 2022/23

  • MSc full time £15,900
  • MSc part time £8,690

Tuition fee information for future course years

If you start your second year straight after Year 1, you will pay the same fee for both years.

If you take a break before starting your second year, or if you repeat modules from Year 1 in Year 2, the fee for your second year may increase.

Funding and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.

Textbooks

Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to buy your own copy of key textbooks – this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.

Computer equipment

There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residences. Free WiFi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost from £100 to £3,000 depending on your course requirements.

Photocopying and printing

In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.

Travel

Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston-upon-Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.

Placement

Students will take the module Applications of Psychological Research. On this module, students spend time working in an organisation or can opt to work on an internal research project. Students usually choose a work placement that is local to them. Travel costs will vary, but if a student's placement required a peak time zone 1-6 student travelcard for one day per week for 10 weeks, the total travel cost would be around £200.

Additional costs (course specific)

Students may incur some costs if they choose to do empirical work for projects outside the university. This is rare as most projects will be conducted in Psychology labs or online. If a project involved travelling to a school or other venue for data collection, costs could include travel to venues, and printing interview schedules and questionnaires. This could cost £0 to £100 for the duration of the course.