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Module NHS-3198:
Introduction Health Economics

Module Facts

Run by School of Health Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Overall aims and purpose

This module will enable students to develop a grounding in the techniques and uses of health economics, highlighting concepts of supply and demand, and exploring the relevance of markets and efficiency within health service provision. Students will be introduced to key methods of economic evaluation and explore examples of the application of these within healthcare decision-making. By linking economic theory with examples the module aims to provide a working knowledge sufficient to understand the contribution of health economics to modern health and social care.

Course content

The module content will include the following topics: Macroeconomics; the role and nature of markets in health and social care; supply and demand; costs and economies of scale; health and soical care markets and efficiency. The content will also provide an introduciton to identifying, measuring and valuing consequences in health and social care; economic evaluation and decision-making (cost minimisation, cost benefit, cost effectiveness and cost utility). Students will also be provided with content which provides an introduction to the changing world of health and social care finance, globalisation and health and well-being.

Assessment Criteria

C- to C+

C- to C+ Grade: To achieve a ‘good pass’ on the module, students will be required to demonstrate a good knoweldge and understanding of the principles of health economics.


D- to D+ Grade: To achieve a ‘pass’ on the module, students will be required to demonstrate a basic knowledge and understanding and of the key principles of economics within health and social care. A D- grade is required to achieve a pass grade.


A- to A+ Grade: To achieve an ‘excellent pass’ on the module, students will be required to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and critical evaluation of the underlying principles of economics and the application to health and social care.


B- to B+ Grade: To achieve a very good pass the student To will be required to demonstrate a very good understanding and some critical evaluation of the underlying principles of health economics.

Learning outcomes

  1. Critically evaluate the key principles and uses of health economics.

  2. Appropriately identify and utilise economic data in order to understand the financial implications of key health and social care issues.

  3. Understand and critically engage with debates on the use of market elements in health and care services commissioning, evaluation and improvement.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
MCQ and short answer questions invigilated exam 50
A critical evaluation of a health intervention 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Private study for reading and examination preparation.


Directed study - workbook completion 50 hours


Lecture - 1 - 20 hours 10 x 2 hour lectures over 10 weeks.


Seminars = 10 hours x 1 hour per week over 10 weeks.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the central place of research activity in the development of the subject.

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of social policy approaches and potential influence upon health and physical and mental well-being.

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the theoretical and professional rationales concerning health interventions.

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of ethical perspectives and the diversity of values associated with health and physical and mental well-being.

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of comparisons within and between healthcare systems and modes of delivery.

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of an appreciation of how sectors, organisations and businesses operate.


Resource implications for students

1. Purchase of text books, pens and paper. 2. Photocopying and printing 3. Subscription to internet provider to access BU on-line catalogues and Blackboard from home residence.

Reading list

Drummond, M.F., Sculpher, M.J., Torrance, G.W., O'Brien, B.J. and Stoddart, G.L. (2005) Methods for the Economic Evaluation of Health Care Programmes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gillam, S., Yates, J. and Badrinath, P. (2012). Essential Public Health: Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Guinness, L. and Wiseman, V. (2011). Introduction to Health Economics (Understanding Public Health). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Jackson, D. (2012) Healthcare Economics Made Easy. Banbury: Scion Publishing

Morris, S., Devlin, N. and Parkin, D. (2007) Economic Analysis in Health Care, 4th Ed. Chichester: Wiley & Sons.

Websites The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) is a useful resource for those interested in the practice of economic evaluation and its use on decision-making The National Collaborating Centre for Health Technology Assessment (NCCHTA) website allows the downloading of publications and information on current projects. The Department of Health website contains a vast amount of information on the NHS and on health policy. The Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) has cost data for a range of health and social care services. The EuroQol Group website has information on measuring and valuing health and references to papers using the EQ-5D. An online public health textbook that covers all the public health skills and competencies of the UK Faculty of Public Health.

Journals Health Affairs Health Economics Journal of Health Economics Journal of Management in Medicine (a useful source to help gain a sense of context) The European Journal of Health Economics

Courses including this module