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 2020
Part time 2 years September 2020
Location Penrhyn Road

2020/21 entry

If you are planning to join this course in the academic year 2020/21 (i.e. between August 2020 and July 2021), please view the information about changes to courses for 2020/21 due to Covid-19.

 

Continuing students

Students who are continuing their studies with Kingston University in 2020/21 should refer to their Course Handbook for information about specific changes that have been, or may be, made to their course or modules being delivered in 2020/21. Course Handbooks are located within the Canvas Course page.

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 you with the opportunity to identify and address real-world issues that can benefit from research input by psychologists. You will gain an appreciation of the challenges of conducting research in professional settings. You will gain 50 hours of work experience working in a placement to identify and/or applying 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 compliment the learning objectives. You will be required to contribute and draw examples of your experiences in their work place and how this informs research in their specific placements. 

It is expected that you will arrange your own work placements, the suitability of which will be discussed and agreed upon with the module leader and/or the course director. In the absence of an external placement, you will be offered a work placement in the Department of Psychology where you 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 you are 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 that were appropriate, you will be required to ensure that you have CRB checks in place and if collecting data in the workplace, then the appropriate ethical approvals are in place prior to collecting data.

The workplace activity is intended to extend your independent research skills in relevant contexts as well as enhance 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 you with the opportunity to identify and address real-world issues that can benefit from research input by psychologists. You will gain an appreciation of the challenges of conducting research in professional settings. You will gain 50 hours of work experience working in a placement to identify and/or applying 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 compliment the learning objectives. You will be required to contribute and draw examples of your experiences in their work place and how this informs research in their specific placements. 

It is expected that you will arrange your own work placements, the suitability of which will be discussed and agreed upon with the module leader and/or the course director. In the absence of an external placement, you will be offered a work placement in the Department of Psychology where you 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 you are 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 that were appropriate, you will be required to ensure that you have CRB checks in place and if collecting data in the workplace, then the appropriate ethical approvals are in place prior to collecting data.

The workplace activity is intended to extend your independent research skills in relevant contexts as well as enhance 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

Applicants will normally have an upper-second class degree or above, 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.

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study

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 teaching and learning activity

  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 202 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1548 hours

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

Type of teaching and learning

Type of teaching and learning
  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 202 hours
  • Guided independent study: 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

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MSc full time £9,200
  • MSc part time £5,060

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MSc full time £14,900
  • MSc part time £8,195

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:

Changes to courses for 2020/21 due to Covid-19

Changes detailed here are for students joining this course in the academic year 2020/21 (i.e. between August 2020 and July 2021).

Course information (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Composition of the course

We do not anticipate making any changes to the composition of the course, i.e. the number of modules or credits in a year for part-time postgraduate courses, as a result of the pandemic.

In order to safeguard our students' health and safety and to minimise the risk of disruption to their studies, the University has postponed all Study Abroad programmes for outgoing students in the first teaching block of 2020/21 (from September 2020 to December 2020). The University will review this decision before the second teaching block and will take into account relevant government advice at that time.

Changes can be made to courses as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to the composition of the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Modules

We do not anticipate making any changes to module titles and summaries or to the availability of modules as a result of the pandemic.

Changes can be made to modules as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to module titles and/or availability of modules will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Length of course

We expect to deliver the course within the planned timescales to enable successful students to progress through and graduate from the course without delay.

In exceptional circumstances the sequence of learning and teaching activities may be changed, e.g. re-sequencing those modules that can be delivered more effectively under the current restrictions with those which would be more difficult to deliver, such as practical modules and placements.

Entry requirements (changes for 2020/21 entry)

We have not changed entry requirements as a result of the pandemic. However, the range of accepted alternatives have increased as has the way in which we select students, which now includes virtual interviews and online portfolios.

Entry requirements for international students

We have not changed entry requirements for international students as a result of the pandemic. However, in response to the pandemic, we now accept a much broader list of English language exams for entry to the course; the level of these exams remain the same.

Teaching (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Changes to the way the course will be delivered

Due to the current pandemic the course's teaching and learning activities will be delivered through both online and on-campus methods (blended learning) in 2020/21. In order to provide all students with a comparable on-campus experience, the University has committed to ensuring that all courses provide at least 30% of their teaching and learning activities on-campus.

While physical distancing measures remain in place, you will receive your learning and teaching via a blend of on-campus and on-line activities. Should your circumstances prevent your attendance at on-campus sessions, you will still be able to engage with your course in a way that allows you to progress. Where this is not possible, support will be available to consider what options are open to you.

Changes to teaching in the event of a further lockdown or adjustments in government advice

The University will continue to closely monitor government announcements and advice in relation to the current pandemic and, where required, will take any necessary action in order to comply with such advice.

In the event that a further lockdown is enforced the University will aim to deliver the course fully online. This may require some additional changes being made to planned teaching and learning activities, including assessments. The majority of our courses are prepared to be delivered fully online if the situation requires it. Where the quality of the student experience may be compromised significantly, or the course is unable to be delivered fully online, the University may need to suspend the delivery of that course until a time that it can be delivered appropriately. Students will be supported in these situations to ensure they are able to make the right choices for their particular circumstances.

In the event that the current social distancing restrictions are fully lifted and the University is able to resume normal delivery of teaching and learning activities, courses will assess whether it is in the students' interest to resume normal delivery. In some cases it may be better to continue and complete modules under the planned blended delivery mode.

Changes to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours for Year 1

Changes to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours will not be made as a result of the pandemic. However, it is possible that some adjustments might be made at module level, e.g. a few more scheduled activities, in order to help ensure student engagement with blended learning.

Any changes made to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

'Scheduled teaching' includes teaching that is online either live or recorded / on demand.

Timetable

Your individualised timetable for teaching block 1 (i.e. from September 2020 to December 2020) should be available by the end of August 2020. Timetables for teaching block 2 (i.e. from January 2021) will not be available until the autumn. Whilst we make every effort to ensure timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week between 9am and 9pm. To accommodate smaller group sizes and social distancing, we will need to maximise the time available for teaching. This means, we may have to use Wednesday afternoons and enrichment week for additional teaching slots. Timetables for part-time students will depend on the modules selected.

Assessment (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Changes can be made to modules, including how they are assessed, as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our modules up to date with current developments in that subject area. Due to the current restrictions in place, i.e. social distancing, it is anticipated that many formal on-campus examinations, including practical examinations, will be replaced with alternative assessments which can be completed online. These changes will be considered and approved through the University's processes to ensure that student assessments will be able to demonstrate they have achieved the expected learning outcomes. The approval process will also assess whether the change impacts the status of any professional body accreditation the course benefits from.

Any changes to the overall methods of assessment for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Staff (changes for 2020/21 entry)

No changes are expected to the general level of experience or status of staff involved in delivering the course.

As a result of the social distancing restrictions in place, on-campus teaching activities may need to be split into smaller groups which may require the support of teaching assistants and student mentors, who will be managed by experienced staff.

Fees, funding and additional costs (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Tuition fees

There will be no changes to published tuition fees for 2020/21.

Additional costs (e.g. field trips, materials, equipment, etc.)

As a result of the blended delivery of courses in 2020/21, where a significant proportion of the teaching will be done online, students will need a personal laptop or computer and access to the internet to participate in online teaching and learning activities. Students who are able to travel will have access to computers on campus, however, it should be noted that access to on-campus facilities will be restricted due to social distancing requirements.

The University is considering how best to provide support to students who do not have access to suitable hardware and software requirements and access to the internet. Identifying students who require this type of support is an important milestone for the University in our journey to ensure equity of access while we continue to deliver our blended approach. Information about the support that will be available will be provided to students during the induction period.

Funding

There will be no changes to any existing University funding arrangements for 2020/21. Currently there are no indications from the UK government that there will be any changes to government funding arrangements.

Fees and funding for international students

There will be no changes to published tuition fees or funding arrangements specifically relating to international students for 2020/21.

Work placements and field trips (changes for 2020/21 entry)

The core module Applications of Psychological Research includes a 50 hour work placement or research placement. Some of these work placements may take place online. Research placements may also take place online.

Placements (including work and clinical placements) and field trips included as part of the course will go ahead as planned. However, to ensure students are able to gain maximum value from these activities, it may be necessary to reschedule them to later in the year when current restrictions have been lifted. We acknowledge that this year it may be more difficult for students to secure appropriate placements. In those situations, students will be guided and supported through the various options that will be available to them, including switching courses or interrupting their studies until a time when they can complete their placement.

Any proposed changes to placements or field trips would go through University's agreed processes where the impact of the change will be carefully considered. Students will be advised of any changes that may become necessary and appropriate support will be available to students to guide them through the various options that may be available to them.

In the interest of the health and wellbeing of our students, the University will ensure that appropriate risk assessments are made before students are sent on a placement.

Courses which require placements or field trips to be completed in order to pass relevant modules will have contingency plans in place in the event that a placement or field trip cannot be completed due to another lockdown or more stringent social distancing measures.

Voluntary placements or field trips may be rescheduled, or, as a last resort, cancelled if it becomes difficult to deliver them and doing so is in the interest of the health and safety of our staff and students.

Award, qualification and accreditation (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Qualification

No changes will be made to the qualification awarded, e.g. MSc, as a result of the pandemic.

Changes can be made to courses, including the qualification awarded (although very rare), as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area. Any changes made to the qualification awarded for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Additional (changes for 2020/21 entry)

International students

International students should maintain awareness of the UK government's and their home country's government advice on possible travel restrictions. The University will closely monitor advice and guidance published by the UK government and assess its impact on our international students. Appropriate advice and guidance will be provided as and when required.

Students who are unable to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities

The University will ensure students who are unable to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities are able to effectively engage with their studies remotely. For certain courses an inability to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities may not be in the students best interest, as it may impede their chances of succeeding in the course or lead to them receiving a poor learning experience. In such cases students will be advised and guided through the various options available to them, such as deferring their studies until they can engage fully with the course.