BASS Social Anthropology and Philosophy

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Using Nudge to Change Lives

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI30331
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No

Aims

The course unit aims to:

•    Provide an introductory grounding on the theoretical foundations of behavioural science.

•    Critically investigate how the theories of behavioural science have been applied in the public and private sector around the world.

•    Support students’ critical thinking about how these ideas might be further developed and applied to policy issues of their choice.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding: 

  • Explain and analyse the underpinning theories of behavioural science
  • Understand how theories have been translated into different empirical contexts
  • Assess the application of behavioural science in public policy in different places and contexts

Intellectual skills: 

  • Interrogate key theories
  • Collate, critique, and defend different forms of evidence
  • Understand and apply evaluative principles to empirical material

Practical and transferable skills: 

  • Policy-orientated research
  • Independent research to support essay writing
  • Collaborative work and group learning

Teaching and learning methods

 

This course will be taught in three-hour workshop blocks for 10 weeks. Students will be

expected to complete key readings in advance of this weekly workshop in order to enable
discussion. The course instructor will start with an introductory lecture each week which
will be followed by both large and small-group tasks and hands-on learning. This will allow students to build teamwork skills, develop their project proposals, and engage with the course convener on specific topics.

Indicative week-by-week guide

1. Introduction to the module and to the topic of behavioural science.

2. Applying the theory: we will discuss various frameworks that can help identify barriers
      and facilitators to behaviours e.g. COM-B (Michie, 2011) as well as ways to change
      those behaviours e.g. EAST (BIT, 2014)

3. Applications in practice 1: behavioural science in the public sector - discussion of how
      it is used by governments across the world

4. Applications in practice 2: Behavioural science in the private sector - how it is used to
      benefit and harm consumers

5. How to run a behavioural science project – introducing TESTS

6. Measuring impact – introduction to quantitative, quantitative and mixed methods evaluation, how can we know if the approach has worked?

7. Ethics, limitations and criticisms e.g. WEIRD (Heinrich et al, 2010)

8. Going beyond 'nudge' -  Nudge Plus, how behavioural science interacts
      with data science, design thinking, co-production  

9. Revision of content covered in previous weeks, initial collective feedback on 1st assignment, and preparation for final assignment

Knowledge and understanding

•    Understand the basics of core underpinning theories of behavioural science

•    Understand, explain and analyse how theories have been translated into different empirical contexts

•    Assess the application of behavioural science in public policy in different places and contexts

Intellectual skills

 

  • Develop ideas for applied policy solutions
  • Collate, critique, and defend different forms of evidence

Practical skills

 

•    Policy-orientated research

•    Independent research to support essay writing

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Report 20%
Project output (not diss/n) 80%

Recommended reading

 

Dolan, P., Hallsworth, M., Halpern, D., King, D. and Vlaev, I. (2009) MINDSPACE: Influencing behaviour through public policy, London: Cabinet Office and Institute for Government

Hallsworth and Kirkman (2020) Behavioural insights MIT Press Essential Knowledge
Series

Behavioural Insights Team (2014) EAST: Four Simple Ways to Apply Behavioural Insights Henrich et al (2010) The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2010) 33, 61-135 doi:10.1017/S0140525X0999152X

John, P., Cotterill, S., Moseley, A., Richardson, L., Smith, G., Stoker, G. and Wales, C. (2019) Nudge, nudge, think, think: experimenting with ways

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 30

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Elizabeth Richardson Unit coordinator

Return to course details