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ECO3020 Behavioural Economics

Semester 1, 2019 Online
Short Description: Behavioural Economics
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Commerce
Student contribution band : Band 3
ASCED code : 091901 - Economics
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Peter Phillips


Pre-requisite: ECO1000

Other requisites

Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at


Since the 1950s, behavioural economics and ‘orthodox’ economics have operated side-by-side. In pure theory, the descriptive models of decision-making developed by behavioural economists have complemented developments in orthodox theory, especially attempts at generalising expected utility theory undertaken during the 1980s. In empirical work, orthodox and behavioural theory provide complementary explanations for observed human action. Gradually, behavioural economics has taken its place as an accepted research program within mainstream economics. Following Daniel Kahneman’s 2002 Nobel Prize and Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s publication of ‘Nudge’ in 2008, it has exerted growing influence over government policy. It is now essential that economics graduates can demonstrate a familiarity with both orthodox and behavioural economic analysis.


The course introduces behavioural economics in three parts. First, a brief overview of expected utility theory and game theory sets the scene for the emergence of behavioural economics. Second, the growth of behavioural economics is traced through Richard Thaler's, "Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics". Third, the core of the behavioural economics research program, heuristics and biases, is reviewed through Daniel Kahneman's, "Thinking: Fast and Slow". The course provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate a familiarity with orthodox foundations, the gradual development of behavioural economics and the core findings that constitute the underlying research program.


On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. outline the main features of (orthodox) expected utility theory and use the theory to solve basic choice problems under conditions of risk and uncertainty
  2. use game theory concepts, in conjunction with problem solving and critical thinking, to explain strategic decision-making in basic settings
  3. discuss the development of behavioural economics since 1980, including the challenges that confronted its pioneering researchers
  4. identify the major turning points (events or breakthroughs) that enabled behavioural economics to gain a foothold in the mainstream of economics
  5. explain how heuristics introduce biases into decision-making
  6. apply knowledge of heuristics and biases to explain human action and observed outcomes in various settings, including consumer-goods markets and financial markets.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Economic behaviour, preferences and choice 10.00
2. Expected utility theory and game theory 10.00
3. Development and growth of behavioural economics 20.00
4. Behavioural economics: early challenges and breakthroughs 10.00
5. Heuristics and biases: theory 25.00
6. Heuristics and biases: applications 25.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Kahneman, D 2013, Thinking, fast and slow, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York, New York.
Thaler, R 2016, Misbehaving : the making of behavioural economics, WW Norton, New York.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Baddeley, M 2017, Behavioural economics, a very short introduction, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Lewis, M 2017, The undoing project, a friendship that changed our minds, WW Norton, New York.
Thaler, R & Sustein, C 2009, Nudge improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness, Rev. and expanded edn, Penguin Books, New York.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 30.00
Directed Study 38.00
Private Study 97.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ONLINE QUIZ 5 5 18 Mar 2019
ESSAY 20 20 06 May 2019
JOURNAL 30 30 03 Jun 2019
EXAMINATION 45 45 End S1 (see note 1)

  1. This is a restricted examination. The total working time for the examination is 2 hours. The examination date will be available via UConnect when the official examination timetable has been released.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks. (Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.)

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must obtain at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course (i.e. the Primary Hurdle), and have satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), i.e. the end of semester examination by achieving at least 40% of the weighted marks available for that assessment item.

    Supplementary assessment may be offered where a student has undertaken all of the required summative assessment items and has passed the Primary Hurdle but failed to satisfy the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), or has satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised) but failed to achieve a passing Final Grade by 5% or less of the total weighted Marks.

    To be awarded a passing grade for a supplementary assessment item (if applicable), a student must achieve at least 50% of the available marks for the supplementary assessment item as per the Assessment Procedure (point 4.4.2).

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    This is a restricted examination. The only materials that candidates may use in the examination for this course are:
    1. writing materials. These must be non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination.
    2. an unmarked non-electronic translation dictionary (but not technical dictionary). A student whose first language is not English may take a translation dictionary into the examination room. A translation dictionary with any handwritten notes will not be permitted. Translation dictionaries will be subject to perusal and may be removed from the candidate's possession until appropriate disciplinary action is completed if found to contain material that could give the candidate an unfair advantage.
    3. a calculator which cannot hold textual information (students must indicate on their examination paper the make and model of any calculator(s) they use during the examination).

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. Referencing in assignments:
    Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide at