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    MSc PG Certificate PG Diploma
    2024 start September 

    Health Economics and Decision Modelling

    School of Medicine and Population Health, Faculty of Health

    Develop the theoretical and analytical skills you need for a career in the growing field of health economics. Learn how to model, analyse and evaluate healthcare interventions so you can make informed public health decisions.
    MSc Health Economics and Decision Modelling

    Course description

    This course is about evaluating the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and clinical outcomes of healthcare resources – from new drugs and public health initiatives to diagnostic tools and screening programmes. It is designed to equip students with the practical tools to inform healthcare policy and decision-making and help people live healthier lives. 

    You can study economics concepts that are key to understanding the healthcare sector, and explore the process of conducting economic evaluations, modelling the cost-effectiveness of healthcare interventions, and carrying out health technology assessments. The course also covers medical statistics and evidence synthesis in the context of clinical trials, and how mathematical modelling and simulations inform healthcare decision making.

    There is also training in research methods and, if you do the MSc programme, a three-month research project based on the models and healthcare problems you’ve studied. This gives you the opportunity to lead your own study in an external organisation, such as an academic unit, the NHS or in industry.


    A selection of modules is available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Continuing Professional Development

    All modules on this course can be studied as standalone CPD modules. It is possible to complete standalone modules and then apply to transfer to an MSc/PGDip/PGCert qualification. Any time spent on the CPD route counts toward the time-limit a student has to complete their chosen qualification.

    Core modules:

    Introduction to Health Economics

    This module is concerned with understanding the key elements in the theory of health economics. Students are introduced to some of the key principles and tools of microeconomics which are then used to examine the peculiarities of the market for health care. In particular, the module focuses on how the market for health care 'fails' and what the implications are for consumption, production and distribution. Students are encouraged to critically appraise the alternative approaches to overcoming some of these market failures.

    15 credits
    Economic Evaluation

    This module introduces the basic principles of economic evaluation as applied to healthcare interventions.  The course introduces the concept of economic evaluation, the different types that are available and the various stages and techniques that need to be applied to generate results.  Current practice guidelines will be described so that students can understand the current policy context of the methods.  Also, as alternative techniques are described, their strengths and weaknesses will be highlighted, with the students being encouraged to critically appraise their appropriateness to different contexts.

    15 credits
    Cost-effectiveness Modelling for Health Technology Assessment

    This module provides an introduction to mathematical modelling and its role in informing clinical policy and resource allocation decisions in international healthcare systems. The core of the module is cost-effectiveness modelling, interpretation and appraisal. Specific methods include problem definition and structuring, decision trees, and Markov/state transition modelling. The methods outlined in this module will be transferable to decision problems in other settings outside of healthcare. Lectures will be augmented by practical modelling sessions.

    15 credits
    Medical Statistics and Evidence Synthesis

    This module introduces students to key concepts and methods used in medical statistics. The module is organised in two parts: 1) the design, analysis and reporting of randomised control trials, and 2) the synthesis of evidence from multiple clinical trials using meta-analysis methods and quantifying uncertainty using experts' beliefs. Classical (i.e. frequentist) and Bayesian meta-analysis methods will be presented with an emphasis on how evidence can be used to represent uncertainty about input parameters in decision analytical models.

    15 credits
    Study Design and Systematic Review Methods

    This module provides an introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods, combining theoretical instruction with practical exercises both in class and as part of MOLE activities. This unit provides a foundation in research methods which complements the other modules on this course. There is an emphasis on research methods used in the evaluation, assessment and analysis of technologies in healthcare.

    15 credits
    Valuing the Benefits of Health Care

    This unit explores in detail specialist topics related to the valuation of healthcare benefits. The course content is based around three topics; the assessment of outcomes in economic evaluation, the quality adjusted life year (QALY) model and its weaknesses, and the use of alternative methods like willingness to pay. All topics will start with the basic critical appraisal of these methods developed in HAR6260 Economic Evaluation and explore in greater depths the weaknesses of conventional methods and the alternative formulations that are available.

    15 credits
    Further Statistical Methods for Health Economic Analysis

    The module builds on key concepts introduced in HAR6170 Medical Statistics and Evidence Synthesis and HAR6260 Economic Evaluation in order to develop further the statistical skills needed in health economics. Students are introduced to a range of advanced statistical topics to address issues that arise in cost effectiveness analyses, including the analysis of cost data, time-to-event data, and treatment effect estimation using data from observational studies. The module is taught using a mixture of lectures, group discussions and hands-on computer practicals.

    15 credits
    Advanced Simulation Methods

    This module provides an in-depth review of simulation rationale, techniques and methodologies with a particular focus on discrete event simulation and their practical application to inform healthcare decision making. From the fundamentals of a basic model the course will progress to modelling complex systems, validation, interpreting output and variance reduction techniques. The methods outlined in this module will be transferable to decision problems in settings other than healthcare. Lectures will be augmented by practical modelling sessions.Students need to have a basic level of knowledge of health economic modelling for this module.

    15 credits

    Full-time and part-time students will complete a research-based project with an external organisation (e.g. academic unit, consultancy or pharma industries or the NHS), or in an internal setting (internal placement within the Health Economics and Decision Science (HEDS) section, self- or funder-developed projects) within SCHARR for 3 months (Mid/Late June to September inclusive). The project will culminate in a written dissertation that will generally involve adapting or developing a new cost-effectiveness model or addressing a health economic problem that makes use of the competences from the programme's quantitative modules. The dissertation module provides students with an opportunity to practice and develop the skills acquired on the programme and to prepare them for future employment.

    60 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    • 1 year full-time
    • 2/3 years part-time


    You will learn through lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical computer-based sessions and independent study.


    You will be assessed through coursework, exams and a dissertation.

    Your career

    Graduates from this course are well-prepared for roles in

    • health economics consultancies that conduct health technology assessment projects for governments, reimbursement agencies and other clients outside of academia
    • Health economics and decision science research groups in academia, working on projects for a range of clients as a modeller or health-economic analyst – many graduates from this course have gone on to work here at the University of Sheffield, the pharmaceutical industry, in a health economics or reimbursement team
    • government and other health policy organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
    • health insurance companies
    • healthcare providers and purchasing organisations

    The course is also great preparation for further training or a PhD in modelling, health economics or a related topic such as informing trial design.

    The modelling and quantitative skills you will develop in this course also mean you will be well-equipped to work in a government agency, such as the UK’s Government Operational Research Service, or in quantitative or modelling roles in the private sector.

    Student profiles

    This course helped me get up to speed on health economics modelling terminology and techniques fast enabling me to progress considerably more quickly than would have been the case without.

    Dawn Lee
    MSc Health Economics and Decision Modelling graduate

    Entry requirements

    You need at least a 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in a numerate subject, such as economics, operational research, mathematics, statistics, pharmacy or industrial engineering, management science, physics, or pharmacy or systems control.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.


    You can apply now using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    +44 114 222 5454

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.