Wednesday, February 22, 2017

PhD Scholarships at UCD School of Economics

UCD School of Economics is pleased to announce a call for applications for the 2017-18 PhD Scholarship scheme. The aim of the scheme is to attract applicants of the highest academic standards to participate in the UCD School of Economics PhD programme (details here) and provide them with the training, experience and mentorship necessary to their professional development.

These PhD Scholarships will comprise an annual tax-free annual stipend of between €12,000 and €15,000 plus a full waiver of fees. The scheme is open to both new applicants and existing PhD students, with the understanding that the stipend and fee waiver will continue to be provided to students up to and including their fourth year of PhD studies, subject to their continuing to make satisfactory progress in their studies and meeting the terms and requirements of their scholarship.

Students in receipt of a Scholarship are required to work as tutors in either undergraduate or graduate modules taught by the School of Economics. This will allow PhD students to develop the practical application of their academic skills by ongoing training and experience of tutorial teaching, assessment and pedagogical development. This taught component will amount to no more than 50 hours of teaching during each of our 12-week teaching semesters.

A selection board of School of Economics faculty members will review applications and make its recommendations on selection to the Head of School. Applications will be evaluated and ranked by the Selection Board according to the following criteria:
Academic excellence (transcripts, previous research experience, etc.)
The academic testament of referees;
Quality and clarity of the research proposal;
Fit with the research strengths of the School;
Teaching potential (past teaching experience, English proficiency, etc.);
Availability of other funding to applicant (such as Irish Research Council awards).

Complete applications must be submitted on or before 1 May 2017. New applicants who are short-listed for a scholarship will then be contacting for a short interview, either in person, via phone, or via computer (such as Skype). Applicants will be notified by 15 May 2017 if they are a finalist for a scholarship. The school will then conduct interviews with each finalist, either in person, via phone, or via the computer (such as Skype). Scholarships will be awarded on approximately May 31, 2017. Successful applicants have until 15 June 2017 to notify the school of their decision whether or not to accept the scholarship. Additional scholarships may be awarded in June or July depending on availability.

For students who are unsuccessful in applying for a PhD scholarship, the school also offers other forms of financial assistance, including fee waivers, hourly tutoring contracts, and marking exams.

If you are interested in applying for these scholarships, please review the associated terms and conditions carefully.

Click here for the application form. Completed forms should be emailed to

Click here for the terms and conditions for the scholarships.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

UCD MSc in Behavioural Economics: Info for Part-Time

See below for the main info on our new MSc in Behavioural Economics. I direct the programme and there will be a combination of 4 new modules specifically designed for the behavioral programme and core economics modules and electives. As said below, the level of this course will require that applicants have relevant undergraduate degrees, ideally in Economics but potentially another degree with an equivalent quantitative component. The part-time option is do this over 2 years, with the dissertation at the end of the second year. This may suit people living in Ireland who have employer support to take this training. As Director, I am happy to speak to people thinking about this option and there will be scope, for example, to conduct a dissertation in an area with direct relevance to your role. MSc students will also be heavily integrated with our research group and encouraged to attend seminars, journal clubs, network events, and related activity.

MSc Behavioural Economics

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

UCD School of Economics is Ireland’s leading economics department. Our staff are experts with international reputations in a wide range of topics such as macroeconomics, econometrics, applied microeconomics, behavioural economics, health economics, international trade and economic history. School members play a significant role in debating economic policy issues and in contributing to the formulation of economic policy.  This is the only MSc in this area in Ireland and it is one of the few worldwide with a strong policy and regulatory focus.

The MSc in Behavioural Economics  is an exciting new course devoted to providing an in-depth training in the area of behavioural economics. Students will take a range of rigorous economic modules but will specialise in understanding a range of new models that incorporate the latest evidence on human decision making. As well as being trained in the core concepts and theories of behavioural economics, students will also learn about the range of empirical methods used to test ideas in this area in lab and field settings. The MSc will also cover the ethical, legal, and regulatory context for the ideas of behavioural economics. Thus, the students will be equipped to apply these ideas in a wide range of academic, business, and policy settings.

This programme features small group teaching from leading economists and a supportive environment.  Masters students are an integral part of our School community, attending research seminars and receiving a wide range of supports to help them prepare for their research thesis.

Course content & structure

This programme comprises 90 Credits of which 70 are taught and 20 are taken by dissertation.

In your first term, you will undertake a two-week preliminary course in mathematics and statistics.  You will also take the following modules:

•    Microeconomics
•    Econometrics
•    Behavioural Economics
•    Topics in Psychological Science
•    Research Skills

In your second term, you will take the following two core modules.

•    Behavioural Economics: Policy Applications
•    Experiments in Economics

You will also take two other modules. The following is an indicative list of modules that may be available:
•    Advanced Microeconomics
•    Advanced Econometrics
•    Health and Welfare Economics
•    Economics of Competition Policy
•    Energy Economics and Policy

In summer term, you will do a supervised research thesis on a topic related to behavioural economics.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Economic research associate vacancies Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Economic research associate vacancies

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Type: 2 x temporary Research Associates

Start Date: Mid-March 2017

Duration: 2-3 months

Rate: £180 per day (negotiable)

Interested candidates should email their CV to and before Friday 3rd March 2017.

The Behavioural Economics and Data Science Unit (BDU) at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is offering two research associate positions to support ‘big data’ economic research projects with household finance microdata. BDU is led by Stefan Hunt (Head of BDU, PhD Harvard) and supports the FCA’s policy, competition, supervisory and enforcement functions by designing and executing high calibre original research.

The roles involve advanced data manipulation, preparing microdata for economic analysis and designing sensitivity analysis on our cloud-based servers. Suitable candidates should have obtained, or be in the process of obtaining, a master degree or PhD and have experience using R. The appropriate candidate will also have knowledge and experience of managing large datasets. Familiarity with R packages dplyr, tidyr, data table would give candidates an advantage. Candidates with strong experience of other coding software (e.g. MATLAB, SAS, STATA) would also be considered. Knowledge of financial markets is not essential.

These roles also offer an opportunity to work within the BDU at the FCA. BDU is a new initiative at the FCA and aims to apply modern theory and applications from behavioural economics and data science to solve contemporary economic problems and increase the FCA’s effectiveness in achieving its operational objectives. Current BDU research also includes large-scale randomized controlled trials in household finance and application of data mining and machine learning. The roles are based at the FCA’s offices in Canary Wharf, London.

These roles require the individual to work at least three days a week. Applicants are encouraged to indicate their availability in their application e-mail (e.g. X days per week).

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cass Sunstein Public Lecture

Professor Cass Sunstein will visit UCD on March 31st. He will speak on "New Directions in Behaviorally Informed Policy". The talk will take place in the UCD Sutherland School of Law from 12pm to 2pm. Registration is free but places are limited by space and we ask participants to register. 

About Professor Sunstein: 

Cass R. Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. From 2009 to 2012, he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School. Mr. Sunstein has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations. Mr. Sunstein is author of many articles and books, including (2001), Risk and Reason (2002), Why Societies Need Dissent (2003), The Second Bill of Rights (2004), Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle (2005), Worst-Case Scenarios (2001), Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler, 2008), Simpler: The Future of Government (2013) and most recently Why Nudge? (2014) and Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerou s Ideas (2014). He is now working on group decisionmaking and various projects on the idea of liberty

If you would like to attend please ensure you register here

Talks on Irish Health System

Two interesting upcoming lectures on the Irish health system courtesy of the UCD Health Systems Group: 

How is the Irish Health System Financed? Stephan Mulvanny, Chief Financial Officer, Health Services Executive. 9th March 2017, 12:00-12:50, C005 Health Sciences Centre.

Current Status of Irish Health System: Opportunities and Challenges. Tony O'Brien, Director General, Health Services Executive. 4th of April, 11:00-11:50, C005 Health Sciences Centre.

These lectures are part of the inaugural elective module on Introduction to Health Systems coordinated by Assoc. Professor Hasheem Mannan, UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems. Both lectures are free to attend and the places are limited. Please register your attendance in advance.

UCD Health Systems Group

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network Meetings

In 2017, we have five meet-ups scheduled, as well as the annual Irish economics and psychology workshop on December 1st:

9th February: Behavioural Economics and the Ethics of Influence (sign-up here)
31st March: Professor Cass Sunstein Public Lectures in UCD and ESRI
18th May: Field, Lab, and Natural Experiments in Public Policy (sign-up here)
7th September: Behavioural Economics and Communications in Policy and Business (sign-up here)
19th October: Behavioural Economics and the Future of Regulation (sign-up here)
1st December: 10th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference (sign-up here)

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Behavioural Science and Policy Links

See below for a collection of useful links on behavioural economics, behavioural science, and public policy. They provide useful background reading for the various sessions we do on this area in Dublin and more generally. 

This page provides links to popular overviews of behavioural economics

The FCA Occasional papers that we have spoken about here a lot are available below. The first one introducing behavioural economics has lots of relevant information.

A very lengthy set of links that I have been maintaining on public policy is available below

The behavioural change wheel by Susan Michie is a terrific resource for a wideranging account of behavioural change.

A report written by IGEES on potential for behavioural economics in Ireland is below
Some further links below, grouped by topics that we have discussed here:


The best book for policy is behavioural foundations of public policy.

Obviously, Sunstein and Thaler's Nudge contains a lot of interesting material and cuts across almost all the examples that people brought up last week. See our "database" for 100 nudge studies that cut across many areas Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" is a bestseller available in all book shops and well worth reading as background. 

The MINDSPACE paper is available on the link below and outlines the approach developed by the Institute for Government and the Behavioural Insights Team. Again, this paper cuts across all the examples we spoke about in the sessions.


For people interested in environmental and energy applications, this paper is very useful

The Sunstein/Reisch paper is one of the best and most detailed summaries.
Charitable Donations and Voluntary Behaviour

The BIT document "applying behavioural insights to charitable giving" is very useful


For those interested in public health applications, it is worth looking at this new book

The BIT also have a nice summary of applications to public health - see below

Another nice paper below

Finance and Financial Regulation

Anyone thinking about financial products and financial regulation should read the excellent paper below

Behavioural Economics and Development

The JPAL lab is the best in the world on this area

The 2014 World Bank report gives a comprehensive overview of this material

Behavioural Economics and Pharma Compliance

See the work of Professor Kevin Volpp and colleagues below. Also the papers under the public health tab above will be very useful.

Employee Incentives 

See below for a very useful paper on the psychology and economics of employee incentives.