Behavioural and Evolutionary Economics

University of Queensland

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Behavioural and Evolutionary Economics

  • Host University

    University of Queensland

  • Location

    Brisbane, Australia

  • Area of Study

    Economics, Psychology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    EC101 or 121 or ECON1010

    Recommended prerequisite: ECON1020 or 1100

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Host University Units

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course Description
    Examines approaches to economics of consumers and firms based upon applications of psychology and studies of actual behaviour in complex, uncertain and rapidly changing environments. Examines the policy implications of these contributions and includes coverage of recent work on the economics of happiness. The significance of behavioural economics was acknowledged by Nobel Prizes awarded to Herbert Simon (1978) and Daniel Kahneman (2002) and it has become widely taught in the past decade. The unit will be taught in a way that aims to develop critical thinking skills rather than focusing on mathematical techniques.
    Learning Objectives
    After successfully completing this course you should be able to:
    1. Analyse economic problems in situations where consumers and managers have to deal with problems of information and knowledge.
    2. Make better informed appraisals of economic policy discussions than you would have done if you had only studied mainstream economics.
    3. Explain how behavioural and evolutionary approaches to economics constitute a bridge between economics, marketing, management and complexity sciences.
    4. Employ a better understanding of the philosophical problems that underlie decision-making to both your own decision-making processes and to make informed appraisals of the quality of theories of decision-making offered by mainstream economists.
    5. Explain how the 'moral dimension' shapes decision-making processes and identify situations in which consumers are most at risk of being duped by business policies.
    6. Explain how behavioural and evolutionary approaches to economics differ from mainstream economic thinking and why they have taken so long to achieve a mass audience.
    Class Contact
    2 Lecture hours, 2 Tutorial hours
    Performance in Tutorial Programme
    Type: Tutorial Participation
    Learning Objectives Assessed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
    Due Date: Overall performance during semester
    Weight: 10%
    Task Description: Ideally, you should attend each of the weekly tutorials, but it will be difficult to score well on this assessment item if you do not attend at least two-thirds (i.e. 8) of the tutorials and make contributions in them on a regular and insightful basis.
    Much of the time, the tutorials will involve small-group discussions amongst students, observed by the tutor, rather than whole-group/tutor interaction of the traditional kind.
    Reading Undertaken for this Subject up to Specified Date
    Type: Annotated Bibliography
    Learning Objectives Assessed: 2, 3, 4, 6
    Due Date: Mid-Late Semester
    Weight: 40%
    Task Description:After subtracting lecture and tutorial hours from a quarter of a full-time study load, you have about 4-5 hours left each week in which you are expected to spend your time reading for this course. This assignment provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate what you have been reading for this subject between the start of semester and the date of submission, and what you have learnt from what you have read. It should also help ensure you have a set of well-organized notes on your reading for use in preparation for the final exam; indeed viewing the annotated bibliography as your typed up revision notes is a good way of getting a sense of what you should be producing. Better still, it might be a set of notes that would be helpful to another member of class in their exam revision -- so it should be clear to read and not cryptic. You are encouraged to share your annotated bibliographies with each other at revision time.
    For purposes of this assignment, you should take 'reading' and 'what you have read' to include videos you have watched because they relate to the course (for example, TV documentaries on the psychology of decision-making, or TED Talk videos, such as those on 'choice overload'), and radio programmes of relevance to the course. Don't forget the readings listed for some of the tutorials (which generally are best read before the tutorial).
    The task involves preparing a document that lists each work you have been reading, with your summary notes about the main ideas you picked up from reading it and any critical comments you wish to offer about the arguments it contained. For the heading for your notes about each publication, use its publication details as they would appear in a list of references (in the style used in this course profile's learning resources list, or in another consistent style such as APA format if you are using Endnote referencing software). It is up to you whether you put your bibliography in alphabetical order by author (as reference lists normally do in a book or article) or by subject area.
    With each item in your annotated bibliography, you should focus on the key messages that you took from the work as useful for this course, rather than on summarising the whole thing: remember, the end product is intended to be something that you are going to find useful in your final revision.
    The length of your document will depend on how much you have been reading, and how much you have got out of your reading. It should reflect what you've actually been doing in terms of reading up to this point in the semester. You should not try to inflate the length of your annotated bibliography by copying and pasting abstracts or chunks of text from journal articles and presenting that as your summary: if you do this, you will be at risk of being heavily penalised for plagiarism. However, short quotations may occasionally be used, so long as they are encased in quotation marks and have a page number. Rather than being a copy and paste exercise, this task involves putting what you have learnt into you own words. What you write about a particular work might only be a few sentences -- if only one or two key points seemed worthwhile to take from it -- but it might in some cases be a paragraph or two, or even a page or two. But don't write more than a couple of pages, at the very most, about any individual work: remember, yet again, you are trying to show the key messages you got from it, messages that you might use in the final exam if the opportunity arises.
    Final Exam
    Type: Exam - during Exam Period (Central)
    Learning Objectives Assessed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
    Due Date: Examination Period
    Weight: 50%
    Reading: 10 minutes
    Duration: 120 minutes
    Format: Extended essay
    Task Description: The exam will be essay-based. The exam paper will be divided into two sections, each consisting of three questions. You will have to answer three questions, at least one from each of the two sections. For each of these answers, essays of around three and a half to four pages should be possible in 40 minutes in legible, single-spaced handwriting of average size. Essays much longer than this are likely to be impossible to read due to being written too rapidly, while essays that are only a page or two long are likely to score very poorly due to achieving far less than a well-prepared student should be able to achieve.
    Several weeks before the end of lectures an indicative menu of potential exam questions will be posted on Blackboard. This will contain about 15-20 questions including questions similar to those on the final exam and supplementary/special examination papers. However, there will of course be no indication of which questions will be on which paper or in which section.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.