Experimental and Behavioural Economics

Module description


The difference between the laws of physics and the laws of economics is that the latter do not always hold. To find out when these laws hold and when they do not you will study human economic interaction under controlled laboratory conditions. While there is a taught element to the module, which gives you an overview on the most important results of experimental economics, most of the course will be “hands-on”. You will be involved in the preparation, running and the evaluation of an economic experiment on markets, public goods, bargaining, fairness, economic decision behaviour and much more.

Additional Information: Internationalisation

Microeconomics is relevant across countries as it is based on mathematical models.


All of the resources for this module are available on the ELE (Exeter learning Environment).


This module equips students with logical thinking, numeracy and writing skills, as well as an understanding and theoretical knowledge of economic issues. These help students think like economists, a quality highly valued by employers.

Full module specification

Module title:Experimental and Behavioural Economics
Module code:BEEM125
Module level:M
Academic year:2016/7
Module lecturers:
  • Professor Miguel Fonseca - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Module aims

The aim of this module is to enable students to examine economic theory from a behavioural perspective, and highlight instances where standard economics predicts actual choices correctly and instances where it does not. Students will be introduced to recent behavioural theories that have emerged to explain the empirical observations, and will discuss the implications for economics, business and politics. Furthermore, students will be expected to become familiar with the methods of experimental economics. They will learn to design and conduct an economics experiment, as well as learn how to evaluate the data generated by the experiment.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. be familiar with the methodology of and recent developments in experimental economics and their impact on economic theories
  • 2. design and conduct an economics experiment

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. understand the difference between normative and positive theories of behaviour
  • 4. 4. understand the implication on behavior of ethical considerations in decision-making, such as fairness or honesty preferences
  • 5. discuss and evaluate how economic theories are developed and tested
  • 6. understand how new theories are developed to account for new empirical evidence

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. effectively communicate findings from research project
  • 8. produce high quality written work (whether in a group or individually)
  • 9. engage in independent study
  • 10. research and summarise a body of literature in order to produce a report
  • 11. engage in critical thought and reasoned discussion

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact hours22Lectures

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Conducting an experiment (individual)1-2 hours1-5Verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written essay100Max 5,000 words1-11Verbal or written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay Written essay (100%) 5000 words1-11Aug/Sep

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment will be a 5,000 word essay. The re-assessment topics will be provided on the course’s ELE page after the final assessment results are released to students. The students will have 5 weeks in which to complete the assignment.

Syllabus plan

• Rational Choice
• Learning
• Framing Effects
• Group Decision-Making
• Social Identity
• Bargaining and Fairness
• Market Experiments
• Behavioural Game Theory I: Coordination
• Behavioural Game Theory II: Cooperation
• Behavioural Game Theory III: Sequential Decision-Making

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:
C. A. Holt. (2006) Markets, Games and Strategic Behavior, London: Pearson / Addison Wesley
D. Kahneman, A. Tversky. (2000) Choices, Values, and Frames Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
J.H. Kagel and A.E. Roth. (1995) The Handbook of Experimental Economics Princeton: NJ Princeton U. Press.
C.R. Plott and V.L. Smith. (2009) The Handbook of Experimental Economics Results vol. 1 Oxford: NorthHolland.

Module has an active ELE page?


Origin date


Last revision date