Find a Degree Postgraduate Taught Programmes Health Economics

Programme Details

This online learning programme will familiarise you with the principles and tools used by economists to inform the allocation of scarce health care resources. Our PgCert in Health Economics is aimed at professionals working in the health care sector who seek to enhance their knowledge of health economics.

This topical and engaging PgCert will help you understand what health economics can contribute to decisions on the allocation of scarce resources, the techniques available for use within an economic evaluation, and the input health economics can provide answers to broader questions concerned with the provision and financing of health care.

The PgCert in Health Economics runs from October until May each year and is structured into four courses:

  • Introduction to Economics and Health Economics
  • Health Care Systems and Policy.
  • Economic Evaluation – Principles and Frameworks
  • Economic Evaluation – Applications and Policy

The programme offers structured learning with flexibility. You have the option of completing all four courses in one year, or over subsequent years. It is a web-based programme ideal for health care professionals and students seeking to be a distance learner. In addition, four short residential seminars are provided, compulsory for UK students and optional for overseas students.

PgCert Minimum 8 months

Why Choose Aberdeen?

  • You will be studying in one of the leading centres for health economics in Europe.
  • The courses have been developed by senior staff in HERU with extensive experience in research and teaching, reflecting their personal expertise in areas of methodological development and applied health economics research.
  • You will have access to programme material, course tutors and peers through the university virtual learning environment and to the full text of over 85,000 online books via the ebrary, plus articles from over 20,000 electronic journals.
  • You will learn how to apply economic concepts to better understand and analyse the health care sector and health behaviour.
  • The programme will develop your understanding of the application of economic tools (such as the QALY, willingness to pay and discrete choice experiments) in the economic evaluation of health care.
  • You will learn how economic evaluation are constructed alongside trials or conducted as a modelling exercise and used to inform policy makers’ decisions.

Contact Information



Introduction to Economics and Health Economics (15 Credits)

This course provides an introduction to economic concepts which underpin the topics covered in the remainder of the programme. It provides students with an understanding of how health care differs from other commodities and considers the implications of these differences for the organisation and delivery of health care. Students will study the concepts of scarcity, opportunity cost, demand and supply and their relevance to health care. The course aims to help students to apply these and other basic economic concepts to health care, and to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of these economic concepts when used to analyse health care policy and decision making.

Economics Evaluation - Principles and Frameworks (15 Credits)

This course covers issues involved in identifying, measuring and valuing costs and benefits. The importance of some of the key economic concepts introduced in Module 1 will be demonstrated. Consideration will be given to the importance of health outcomes, non-health outcomes and process attributes when valuing the benefits of health care interventions. The student will be introduced to Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) and the use of standard gamble and time-trade off to estimate quality weights within the QALY framework. Consideration will be given here to the creation and use of generic QALY measures such as EuroQol; as well as specific QALY measures. The QALY measure is concerned with valuing health outcomes. Contingent Valuation and discrete choice experiments have been developed in health economics to go beyond the health outcome paradigm, and consider the value of non-health outcomes and process attributes. These techniques will be introduced and explained, using examples from health care. It should be noted that whilst these techniques were introduced to go beyond health outcomes, they can also be used to value such outcomes. It will be shown how costs and benefits can be brought together within the framework of an economic evaluation (e.g. cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-utility analysis and cost-benefit analysis). Read full details in our course catalogue.

Economic Evaluation: Applications and Policy (15 Credits)

This course will use examples from the literature to demonstrate the actual application of economic evaluation in practice. Consideration will also be given to pragmatic developments and policy applications of economic evaluation – this will include practical examples for priority setting, modelling and economic evaluation alongside trials and systematic reviews (including NICE) and NHS business case analysis. Read full details in our course catalogue.

Health Systems and Policy (15 Credits)

This course examines different types of health care systems, specifically with the modes of finance and provision and the implications for efficient and equitable use of health care resources. Building on material from Introduction to Economics and Health Economics it covers issues relevant to many health care systems: supply and demand, the patient as consumer, user charges, doctors and hospitals as suppliers of health care, incentives and reimbursement, competition and performance management. The material draws on a range of experiences from the UK, continental Europe, North America and Australia and is relevant to understanding all types of health care systems. Read full details in our course catalogue.


Each course has assessment methods relevant to the specific type of material being studied. These include multiple choice questions, short answers, short essays and long essays. A single assignment is required for each module and all must be completed successfully for a PgCert to be awarded.


Each module has a seminar attached to it, the seminar is held in Edinburgh. Each seminar is a two day event, the costs of the seminars and overnight stays are included in the course fees. Attendance is compulsory for students living in the UK, overseas students are welcome to attend (at an additional cost).


Economic analysis is regularly drawn upon by policy makers and regulators in the health care sector, by professionals in the pharmaceutical industry, clinicians and managers involved in the organisation, purchasing and provision of health care.

However, given the shortage of health economists in Scotland, UK and internationally and as a result health economics knowledge and skills, it is increasingly important for non-economists to have a clearer understanding of how they can effectively apply and interpret economic concepts and tools in their own organisation.

A degree or equivalent qualification and/or experience deemed suitable by the programme director.


Full details of tuition fees is available here


Prospective students should visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database


Related Information

General Information

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