HSC8027 : Health Economics

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The aim of this module is to introduce students to economic thinking and economic techniques which are of use in formulating and analysing health policy.

Day 1 of the module will deal with the demand and supply of health, markets and market failure. The concept of health economics will then be introduced with particular focus on economic evaluation. Economic evaluation will cover a wide range of topics including allocating scarce resources, economic evaluation techniques, and costings.

Day 2 will focus primarily on outcomes used economic evaluation including the measurement and valuation of health and preference elicitation methods. The day will conclude with an introduction to economic modelling.

Day 3 will focus on additional issues that need to be considered when undertaking an economic evaluation and applying the theory of economic evaluation. An overview of priority settings will then be provided. The day will conclude with an introduction on how to interpret economic articles and with the students critically evaluating an article.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will provide an introduction to some fundamental concepts of economics that are relevant for healthy policy decision making and analysis. The first day will focus on how markets work, why they fail in healthcare and an introduction to health economics and economic evaluation. The three main types of economic evaluation (cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-utility analysis and cost-benefit analysis), how and when they should be applied, and their pros and cons will be discussed. This will be followed by a costing session which will include the definitions of costs and how costs can be identified, measured, and valued in an economic evaluation. The second day will continue with the economic evaluation theme and focus on the different methods for measuring benefits in economic evaluation, including QALYs. The next topic covered will be preference elicitation methods, specifically focusing on contingent valuation and discrete choice experiments. The day will conclude with an introduction to economic modelling which will cover, decision tree modelling, Markov modelling, and the advantages and disadvantages of economic modelling. The final day will start with a session on economic evaluation and applying all of the theory learned over the previous 2 days. Refinements to economic evaluation, such as discounting, marginal analysis and sensitivity analysis will also be covered. An overview of priority settings will then be provided. This session will discuss the tools used to facilitate healthcare decisions at a local level. The day will conclude with a brief session on econometrics and how to critically appraise health economics studies.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture63:0018:00interactive lectures and group work
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study721:0072:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching and learning methods used, with the emphasis on practical activities in small groups and general interaction, were felt the most appropriate methods for a masters course with relatively small student numbers. Most of the students have significant experience of working in the health service, and the interactive nature of the learning methods enables them to discuss their experience and to relate that to the concepts and ideas being taught, thus aiding their knowledge and understanding of the subject area.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M1002000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment is a 2000 word assignment split evenly between two essays. The two essays cover applied topic in health economics to provide students with the opportunity to apply economic theory to practice. This type of assignment allows students to utilise their analytical skills and knowledge of theory.

Reading Lists