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Health Economics and Decision Modelling
School of Medicine and Population Health,
Faculty of Health
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.
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.
- 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, industry or the NHS), or in an internal setting (internal placement, self- or funder-developed projects) within ScHARR for 3 months (July 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 programmes 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.
An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.
- 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.
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.
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.
MSc Health Economics and Decision Modelling graduate
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.
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.
Fees and funding
You can apply for 2024 postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.
+44 114 222 5454
Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.
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.