New health economics degree launched

Scotland’s first postgraduate degree in health economics is being launched by the University of Aberdeen to help meet a shortage of those working in the field.

Economics is of increasing importance in health and health care - it informs policymakers about health care decisions on all sorts of issues.

Dr John Skatun, Head of Economics at the University of Aberdeen, said: “Economics is often defined as the study of the allocation of scare resources. The application of economics to health and health care is therefore increasingly being recognised as a primary policy tool.

“It provides governmental and local decision makers with a set of criteria that seeks to achieve the best possible outcome for a given level of resource. There is hardly an area of Health Services Research where economics has not been applied or where it has not provided significant recommendations.

“As such, it has provided important implications for health policy in many disparate topics such as; the evaluation of health care interventions, the incentives that drive smoking cessation, the effect of wage structure of health personnel on patient outcomes, alcohol pricing and taxation to name but a few.”

Dr Marjon van der Pol, Reader at the University’s Health Economics Research Unit (HERU) and course director of the new MSc, said: “There is a shortage of health economists in Scotland, in the UK, and internationally, and with our ageing populating and the increased pressure on funding of health care we forecast the demand for health economists to increase further.

“The University of Aberdeen has developed this new Economics of Health Masters degree to meet the acknowledged lack of capacity. Demand is high for health economists within academia, government, NHS and the private sector.”

Health economics is typically applied in multidisciplinary settings and this is reflected within this new course - run by the University’s HERU and Economics - which will give students health economics skills, together with economic and health service research skills.

The course also builds on HERU’s and Economics’ recognised areas of expertise including elicitation of individuals’ preferences for health and health care and economics of the health workforce. 

Economics of Health Studentships - worth £3,000 -are available for full-time UK and EU students.

Dr van der Pol added: “This MSc programme is aimed at students who wish to pursue a career as a professional health economist or who wish to undertake a PhD degree.

“The course will be taught by experts in the field of health economics and economics, and other internationally recognised specialist staff including from the University of Aberdeen’s Health Services Research Unit and the International Health team.

“The course will also feature talks and seminars by distinguished UK and international guest speakers.

“Students opting to take our new degree will also have the opportunity to interact with economists working in the Scottish Government and NHS and also with policymakers who will demonstrate how economics can contribute to health policy.

“There are numerous graduate job and career opportunities in health economics nationally and internationally, in both private and public sectors.

“Examples include academia, government and NHS, health economics consultancies, pharmaceutical companies and international organisations such as WHO and the World Bank.” 

For further information about the new degree see: