MSc Development Finance

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Behavioural Experiments, Quantitative Field Research and Development Policy

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI60191
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Global Development Institute
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This module provides an introduction to key theories and economic development applications of behavioral economics. Its additional objective is to give insights into the theory and applications of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), mainly in relation to behavioral economics research. By the end of the module students would not only understand key developments in the behavioral economics literature and their less developed country applications, but they would also be able to design their own experiments, including in a RCT framework.


At least some basic knowledge of neoclassical economics principles would be very helpful.


  • Provide insights into cutting edge theories and development policy implications of behavioural economics
  • Introduce students to the design of lab-in-the-field experiments
  • Provide insights into the use of randomized control trials in behavioural economics research


See Reading List below:

Teaching and learning methods

The module’s teaching is based on lectures and tutorials, as well as several computer lab sessions. The aim is to make both of these very interactive.  A large part of the learning would involve role-playing and participation in behavioural experiments.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Critical analysis of the behavioural economics literature and its development policy implications
  • Compare and contrast the conceptual frameworks and policy implications of neoclassical economics and behavioural economics

Intellectual skills

  • Draw conclusions from vast development economics literature and evaluate the role of behavioural economics insights play in shaping or re-shaping current policy making in less developed country contexts
  • Ability to think through the successful design of lab-in-the field experiments

Practical skills

  • Design of lab-in-the-field experiments
  • Use of randomised control trial techniques

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Experimental design
  • Working well individually and in groups
  • Writing coherent pieces of academic research

Employability skills

Field experiments are currently at the cutting edge of development economics research and policy making. The knowledge provided in this module is therefore essential for a successful career in both academics and development policy institutions.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Project output (not diss/n) 100%

Feedback methods

Most of the formal feedback is based on the end of module assessment. Informal feedback will be provided on a weekly or bi-weekly basis via the participation and analysis of the results of experiments conducted in class and during the tutorial sessions.

Recommended reading

Most of the extended syllabus is based on academic articles. Additional useful references include:

Camerer, C. 2003. Behavioral Game Theory. Experiments in Strategic Interactions. Princeton University Press.

Gerber, A. and Green, D. 2012. Field experiments: design, analysis and interpretation. W.W. Norton and Company.

Glennerster, R. 2013. Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide. Princeton University Press.

Hagel, J. and Roth, Alvin. 1995. Handbook of Experimental Economics. Princeton University Press. 

Kremer, M., Rao, G. and Schilbach, F. 2018. Behavioral Development Economics. Forthcoming in the Handbook of Development Economics.

The World Bank Group. 2015. Mind, Society and Behavior. World Development Report.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 4
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 116

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ralitza Dimova Unit coordinator

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