In the current economic climate with all health care systems facing resource constraints, the importance and use of health technology assessment (HTA) and health economic modelling is rapidly increasing as governments, insurers, healthcare organisations and the pharmaceutical industry recognise the need to estimate the costs, clinical outcomes and benefits of alternative healthcare technologies.
The MSc in Health Economics and Decision Modelling (HEDM) aims to develop students to be working professionals in HTA, decision modelling and health economic evaluation, capable of working immediately in health economics and outcomes research consultancies, university-based HTA centres, pharmaceutical and medical companies, healthcare and government organisations, or progressing in an academic career to PhD and further research.
English language requirement: IELTS 6.5 overall with 6.0 in each component or equivalent
The course - the first MSc set up in the UK with an emphasis on HTA and decision modelling and now in its 11th year - is based in Health Economics and Decision Science (HEDS) centre, one of the world’s leading centres for health-economic modelling and technology assessment. HEDS has 9 professors including the world-renown Prof John Brazier and in Profs Alan Brennan, Jim Chilcott and Matt Stevenson, some of the most experienced health economic modelling experts in the country. Overall HEDS has over 100 academic and research staff including modellers, health economists, systematic reviewers, statisticians, and information scientists. As such, the course:
has been developed by recognised experts in their field who are active members of various national committees such as NICE whose remit is to make decisions on the adoption of new health technologies, and therefore have recent experience of developments and priorities in the field
is very applied, teaching both the underlying traditional health economic theory and the practical application of modelling for decision making
is taught by highly-experienced staff in health economic modelling whose working lives are largely spent on real projects which affect decision making in healthcare
The course aims are to equip students with:
a professional and state-of-the-art level of analytical skill required to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of health technologies, public health initiatives, screening programmes and diagnostic tools
a deep level of expertise that places graduates in high demand with a range of employment opportunities (including academia, health economic consultancies, the pharmaceutical industry, government or regulatory bodies, or purchasing or provider healthcare organisations)
necessary skills and knowledge to undertake a PhD in the area of health technology assessment, decision modelling, health economics or design of health services.
Taught modules and content
The modules and a summary of their content are shown below.
For more detail about a module, just click on the hyperlink for that module title.
All modules account for 15 credits unless stated otherwise.
Introduction to Health Economics
Principles and ethics of priority setting in health, key principles and tools of microeconomics, peculiarities of the market for health care and associated consumption, production and distribution. Types of efficiency and equity goals
Principles of economic evaluation, different types of economic evaluation used in applied research, stages and techniques that need to be applied to generate results. Strength and weaknesses of alternative approaches
Cost-effectiveness Modelling for Health Technology Assessment
Analyse a decision problem using problem structuring methods to determine an appropriate modelling approach, construct health economic models based on Markov modelling using Excel, learn programming techniques in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)
Medical Statistics and Evidence Synthesis
Analyse patient level data in appropriate statistical computer packages.
Classical and bayesian approaches. Quantitative evidence synthesis or meta-analysis of data from several randomised controlled trials to provide model parameter values
Valuing the Benefits of Health Care
Learn how outcomes of healthcare interventions are measured and valued. In addition to the Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) measure, internationally-relevant alternatives include healthy year equivalents (HYEs), disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)
and wellbeing. Wider societal benefits, willingness to pay and discrete choice experiments, all of which go beyond QALYs to measure benefit.
Advanced Simulation Methods
Apply discrete event simulation methods applicable to other healthcare efficiency problems such as pathway modelling or capacity planning using Simul8 software; probabilistic sensitivity analysis (PSA); choosing individual-level models versus cohort models
Dissertation (60 credits)
Provides experience applying the skillset acquired from the different modules to a real decision problem.
Through our links with numerous partner organisations delivering real-world projects, we are able to place students with potential subsequent employers such as within an academic organisation (including within HEDS), a health economics consultancy, or a pharmaceutical company.
An asterisk (*) next to a module code above indicates that the module is taken in year 2 for part-time students
Students can study for the masters programme either full-time or part-time.
Students are required to complete eight taught modules over the course of their studies, The course starts in September/October and students will be required to take four modules in the Autumn semester and four modules in the Spring semester to the value of 120 credits during the year. The dissertation is undertaken during the summer and submitted by 30 September.
Students are required to complete two modules per semester to the value of 120 credits over two years. This dissertation is undertaken in the following six months.
Teaching is very hands-on so in addition to lectures, there are tutorials and practical sessions where students have the opportunity to apply what they have been taught to real applications to re-enforce learning.
Students will be expected to have their own laptops for use on this course. We use a range of specialist software that will be provided for you, including Stata, TreeAge and Simul8. Please make sure that your laptop is capable of running these programmes by checking the specifications here, here and here. You will also need to have Excel in a recent version - we suggest 2010, but at a minimum the 2007 version.
Modules are assessed using a combination of techniques including written assignments and exams.
Most modules involve a written assignment of between 1,500 and 3,000 words, depending on the level of analysis required. At the end of each semester, a written examination is taken for modules taken within that period which require this. The final part of the masters degree is the submission of a 10,000-15,000 word dissertation.
The award of an MSc in Health Economics and Decision Modelling requires students to pass the examinations and the dissertation. Each module will be valued at 15 credits, whilst the dissertation will provide 60 credits. Both full and part-time curriculums are available.
We also offer the MSc International Health Technology Assessment, Pricing and Reimbursement, also run by the same department. This is a 3-year on-line course with a focus on supporting individuals from the pharmaceutical industry in their health economic submissions to regulatory agencies. More details are available here.
We also run MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) during the year. These are free online courses open to everyone that provide an introduction to different topics in health economics such as ‘Health Technology Assessment: Choosing Which Treatments Get Funded’ and ‘Valuing Health: Quality Adjusted Life years and Patient Reported Outcome Measures’. Prospective students may find these to be a useful introduction to important topics and to let you experience our teaching. More details are available here.
In addition to these core staff members, the course draws on the expertise of other experts within the School. See the course structure pages for details of some of the other staff members involved.
Information for sponsors
Health economics and decision modelling is a growing area in public policy, in academia, and in the private sector, with a national shortage of qualified specialists at post graduate level. Whether you represent a pharmaceutical company, a research consultancy, a health economics consultancy, or any other commercial organisation within the field of health economics, you can prosper by association with the Health Economics and Decision Science section of ScHARR. Some of the benefits include:
contribution to the growth in the number of health economic decision scientists
option to employ a successful graduate of the Health Economics and Decision Modelling MSc
specification and delivery of a piece of research of your choice
association with a world leading organisation in the field of Health Economics
featured URL link to your organisation's website
There are many ways that you can make a contribution to the industry. Consider the range of options below and, if you would like to discuss any of these in more detail, please register your interest.
Why study at HEDS in Sheffield
HEDS international reputation and experience
HEDS led the way in introducing an MSc in the UK with a specific emphasis on the practical application of economic and statistical modelling to inform healthcare decisions about which health technologies and public health programmes should be invested in.
By studying within HEDS, you will:
benefit from research-led teaching within the largest health technology assessment group (ScHARR-TAG) and the largest provider of HTAs to the NIHR in the UK Its evaluations cover over 100 topics from obesity to rheumatoid arthritis. Over the past 15 years, no other university or private sector organisation has produced more evaluations for NICE.
benefit from the experience of staff working on national policies such as the National Diabetes Prevention Program, the effect of alcohol tax and pricing policies on consumption, cancer screening programs, obesity prevention and treatment, diagnostic biomarkers of heart attacks, mental health services, treatments for osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, asthma, and many more. Our teaching and practical exercises draw on these real-world projects.
learn within a group that is at the leading edge of developing methods in areas such as cost-effectiveness modelling and valuing health outcomes
benefit from the experience of staff involved in a wide range of projects on behalf of the major funders and collaborations including:
- UK NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme
- the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
- CLAHRC – a program focused on improving patient outcomes through the conduct and application of applied health research and evidence-based implementation
- the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
- research agencies such as the Medical Research Council
- the NIHRs School for Public Health Research which works to improve population health and reduce health inequalities
- pharmaceutcial companies to support their re-imbursement applications for new drugs
- NHS England and Public Health England
- the NHS Department of Health including hosting its Policy Research Unit in Economic Evaluation of Health and Care Intervention (EEPRU).
- the European Union
be part of the overall School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) - one of the largest multidisciplinary schools of public health and health services research in the UK - rated 4th in the UK for the power of our health research at the lastest assessment exercise (2014). ScHARR’s Dean, Professor Jon Nicholl, has been named Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2015. You can find out more about ScHARR’s impact in the 20 years since its inception here.
be studying at the university placed 82nd in the world in the 2018 QS World University Rankings.
Student support and Experience
Each module has a dedicated tutor who can answer student questions. Students also benefit from the peer support of fellow students that a taught face-to-face course offers.
We provide specific support sessions and clinics on statistics and writing skills and language support for individuals for whom English is not their first language.
We have a dedicated teaching support team which supports our students throughout their studies.
There is a university Academic Skills Hub (TASH) which signposts students to academic skills development resources within and beyond the University of Sheffield
Each student is assigned a personal tutor who the student can meet to discuss non-academic issues.
SSiD is a “one-stop shop” within the student union building for any student-related enquiries of a non-academic nature.
The University of Sheffield was ranked the 3rd best university in the UK for student experience (1st amongst the prestigious Russell Group of universities) in the 2018 QS World University Rankings.
The Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2017 also voted the University of Sheffield’s Students' Union best in the UK for the 9th year in a row.
Funding for taught postgraduate study:
There are some ‘Shared Commonwealth Scholarships’ and some country-specific schemes – details of these are available on the University's prospective international student pages – just select the appropriate country, click on the link to ‘Scholarships’, then click on the 'Postgraduate masters degree scholarships eg MA, MSc’ line, you will see details of several scholarship schemes for MSc/postgraduate courses. There are various eligibility criteria so please read through these to see if you are eligible for one of the schemes. If you would like any further help or information applying for one of these, please email one of the administrators for the HEDM MSc at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For University of Sheffield alumni, there is some information about current funding schemes, including full and partial scholarships and fee reductions and rewards on ScHARR's PGT scholarships and studentships page.
Health economics and decision modelling is undergoing a massive expansion internationally as governments, health research organisations, the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare organisations, and insurers meet the need to analyse the costs and benefits of new drugs, screening programmes and medical devices. There is an international shortage of qualified specialists at postgraduate level. Graduates of the MSc in Health Economics and Decision Modelling will find career opportunities exist around the world (including the UK, Europe, USA, Australia, Africa, and Canada) in:
health-economics related consultancies that conduct health technology assessment projects for governments, re-imbursement agencies or other clients outside of academia
health economics and decision science groups within academia - as a modeller or health-economic analyst working on projects for a range of clients - HEDS itself often employs graduates from the course
academia studying for a PhD in modelling, health economics or related disciplines such as informing trial design
the pharmaceutical industry in a health economics or re-imbursement team
government or other health policy organisations such as NICE
health insurance companies
healthcare purchase or provider organisations
For an indication of the demand for graduates, the following links provide information about vacancies in health economics/HTA currently being advertised:
Outside of the field of health economics/HTA, students will be well equipped with quantitative and modelling skills sought for jobs within Government agencies such as the Government Operational Research Service (GORS) and quantitative/ modelling roles within the commercial sector.
I started the HEDM MSc part-time alongside commencing my career as a health economist at BresMed. Since completing the degree less than 3 years ago I have been placed in charge of the health economics team at BresMed (20 people), worked on a exceptionally wide variety of products submitted to HTA bodies across the world, represented manufacturers at NICE approx 15 times and had my work published in a variety of journals. The HEDM MSc 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 (Health Economics and Decision Modelling graduate)
I studied for an MSc in Health Economics and Decision Modelling part-time during my first two years working as a Graduate Health Economist for BresMed, a health economic consultancy based in Sheffield. The skills and knowledge I gained whilst studying have helped me to progress to become a Principal Health Economist less than 5 years from the start of my career. I now manage a team of 5 health economists from graduate level upwards and I regularly take a lead role on projects involving multiple teams within BresMed. The MSc gave me increased confidence in presenting my work to others, something that forms a regular part of my working life, and greatly improved my critical thinking and report-writing skills as well as providing essential technical skills required for developing economic models. I was able to present my dissertation as a poster at the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research European congress in 2013 which I have attended with BresMed annually since joining.
Chrissy Almond (Health Economics and Decision Modelling graduate)