This online programme provides students with an understanding of the health economics principles and tools to analyse and address the challenges of limited resources faced by the health sector.

Key Facts

9 Months / 1 Year, 6 Months / 2 Years
Study Mode
Part Time
Start Month
Learning Mode
Online Learning

Interested in this Degree?

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Health economics applies economic thinking to the analysis of health and health care. This programme provides students with a knowledge of core issues in health economics and their relevance to working health professionals. Students will be equipped with knowledge and skills to face the challenges of resource allocation through study of a range of health economics topics and health research skills.

The Programme is run by the Health Economics Research Unit (HERU) at the University of Aberdeen. HERU has been at the cutting edge of economic research into health for around forty years and is one of the leading centres of health economics in Europe.

Students will study core courses in economic concepts; economic evaluation methods; application and policy of economic investigation; health care financing and provision; the economics of health behaviour and; applied statistics. Courses on generic health research methods, including research design; evidence‐based health and; health informatics, will provide students wishing to progress to the MSc programme with additional skills to complete their dissertation.

The Programme is aimed at health professionals who would like to improve their understanding of health economics and research methods and at other interested students who are unable to study full-time and/or want to avoid relocating.

What You'll Study

The information below applies to the 2 year part time online learning MSc programme which runs in September. You will find information about other ways to study this programme in the next section on this page.

We offer options to study for a Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma or Masters in Health Economics for Health Professionals.

Degree Structure


Successful completion of MSc in Health Economics for Health Professionals requires 120 credits from taught courses plus a dissertation attracting 60 credits. 60 credits must be from health economics courses.

Compulsory Courses

Introduction to Economics and Health Economics (PU5008)

Health Economics is concerned with the optimal use of scarce health care resources. The PgCert in Health Economics introduces economic techniques for determining the optimal allocation of resources and economic arguments for ways of financing and providing health care. This course provides an introduction to economic concepts underpinning the topics covered in the remainder of the programme. It provides students with an introduction to how health care differs from other commodities and the implications 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.

View detailed information about this course.

Applied Statistics (PU5522)

Applied statistics introduces students to statistical concepts involved in the appropriate design, analysis and interpretation of research in health settings, covering aspects of data types and presentation of data; probability; samples, distributions, statistical inference; hypothesis testing; univariate parametric and non-parametric methods and correlation with an introduction to regression.

View detailed information about this course.

Optional Courses

Economic Evaluation - Principles and Frameworks (PU5401)

This module covers issues involved in identifying, measuring and valuing costs and benefits. 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.

View detailed information about this course.

Economic Evaluation - Applications and Policy (PU5501)

This course is taken by students enrolled on the Post Graduate Certificate in Health Economics. It is concerned with practical issues in the design and conduct of economic evaluation. It covers the principles of the two most common approaches to economic evaluation – using individual patient data collected alongside randomised controlled trials, and using decision models to synthesis data from a number of secondary sources. The module highlights the strengths and limitations of each approach, and emphasises their complimentary nature.

View detailed information about this course.

Health Care Systems and Policy (Distance Learning) (PU5533)

This course examines different types of health care systems. Building on material from PU5008 it covers issues relevant to many health care systems: the application of supply and demand theory; the complex relationships between the transactors in health care; the patient as consumer; user charges; doctors and hospitals as suppliers of health care; incentives; reimbursement; competition and performance management.

View detailed information about this course.

Economics of Health Behaviour (PU5542)

The health behaviour of individuals – smoking, alcohol, poor diet, physical activity – are major contributors to development of health problems. Health policy needs to be effective and cost-effective. Economics as a discipline contributes to the understanding of health behaviors and provides tools for evaluating policy interventions to influence health behaviour.

View detailed information about this course.

Fundamentals of Research Design (PU5027)

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of health research methods. The course will focus on the development of research protocols, including how to formulate research questions, identify appropriate study designs, identify relevant outcomes and plan data collection. Students will be introduced to the main study designs used in health research including experimental, observational, qualitative and mixed method designs. Sampling techniques and methods for data collection for both quantitative and qualitative methods will be addressed. Students will also be introduced to the importance of critical appraisal and research ethics and will learn how to communicate scientific findings.

View detailed information about this course.

Evidence - Based Health (PU5031)

This course is taken by students registered for the PGCert in Research Methods for Health and the MPH. It is delivered online and provides interaction with fellow students and faculty both synchronously and asynchronously. Everyone taking part must be registered for the course and complete all assessments.This course aims to enable the fundamental understanding and application of evidence based health at an individual- and population-level, focusing on the use of systematic reviews to synthesise evidence as well as methods to translate and implement evidence to inform health practice and policy.

View detailed information about this course.

Health Informatics (Distance Learning) (PU5532)

We live in a time of ‘Big Data’ with the rapid growth in the digital capture of health information. Health Informatics is the science of data capture, linkage and analysis of large datasets to improve health. The demand for health researchers with training and experience in health informatics is high. For people practicing in Public Health, it is a key skill. It will equip students for any career in health research or public health practice and this course is an excellent stepping stone for those wishing to develop a specialist interest in the field.

View detailed information about this course.

Standard Project in Public Health (PU5910)

This course will build on taught courses in stages 1 and 2, which covers the core public health elements. This project will be supervised by two experts, both in topic area and methodology.

View detailed information about this course.

Degree Structure

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

The Programme will be delivered predominantly by distance learning using the University virtual learning environment within MyAberdeen. Each course provides a structured but flexible learning approach through the periodic release of materials which includes a study guide or worksheets, links to journal articles and e-books, relevant websites, video and audio podcasts and synchronous and asynchronous discussions, and self assessment tests utilising the range of teaching tools available within MyAberdeen. Compulsory seminars are offered to students studying PU5008, PU5401, PU5501 and PU5533. These may be attended face to face or through our virtual learning facility.

In addition to web browser access to MyAberdeen from most devices, students will also be able to install a mobile app for their smart phone from their appropriate app store (e.g. Google Play, App Store). The app is called Bb Student and it allows slightly more limited access to MyAberdeen courses but is excellent for keeping up to date with notifications, discussion boards and most content.

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Group Projects
  • Seminars
  • E-learning


All assessments within the programme are completed and delivered online. Several types of assessment are used throughout the Programme including formative and summative assessment (multiple choice questions, short answer tests, essays, presentations, peer review), reflecting the specific type of material being studied.

Why Study Health Economics for Health Professionals?

  • You will be studying in one of the leading centres for health economics in Europe. The Health Economics Research Unit (HERU) at the University has been at the cutting edge of economic research into health for forty years.
  • The courses have been developed by senior staff in the HERU and the Institute of Applied Health Sciences (IAHS) with extensive experience in research and teaching, reflecting their personal expertise in areas of methodological development and applied health and health economics research.
  • HERU is contracted by NIHR to conduct Technology Assessment Reviews for the UK NHS.
  • Tutors and project supervisors on the programme are active researchers and you will benefit from the skills and experience they have gained in designing and conducting their own research and through the University's strong collaborations with other research institutions across the globe.
  • 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 e-library, plus articles from over 20,000 electronic journals.
  • Through the use of digital media you will be engaged in a collaborative learning environment benefiting from teaching methods that fit with your preferred style of learning.
  • You can have mobile access to your MyAberdeen courses and most of the features of the virtual learning environment via the Blackboard Mobile Student App.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fees cover all aspects of online learning and are charged on a modular basis.

Additional cost: students will be expected to purchase one course text book which is not available online.

Possible additional costs: some seminars will be offered as virtual or face-to-face in Aberdeen. Students wishing to attend a seminars face-to-face will be responsible for their accommodation and travel costs.

PgCert = 60 credits | PgDip = 120 credits | MSc = 180 credits.

Fee information
Fee category Status Amount
All Students
This programme is charged on a modular basis. The fee quoted is per 30 credits.
Modular fee programmes - Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year £1,500
  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


The University of Aberdeen is very pleased to offer a 20% discount on postgraduate tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated with a degree from the University of Aberdeen.

(Please note this cannot be claimed in conjunction with any other scholarship award.)

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Leading Health Economics Research for 40 Years

The Health Economics Research Unit (HERU) at the University of Aberdeen has been at the cutting edge of economic research into health for almost forty years.

Entry Requirements


Our minimum entry requirement for this programme is a degree at 2:1 (upper second class) UK Honours level (or a degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth).

However alternative/lower qualifications, combined with an appropriate level of relevant experience, may also be considered as a means for entry.

Please check the In My Country pages to find out if your degree is equivalent.

Students will also require reliable internet access.

Language Requirements

All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.

Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the College of Life Sciences and Medicine Postgraduate Standard level of English proficiency.

If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.

Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempt from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages.

Document Requirements

  • CVan up-to-date CV/Resumé
  • Degree Certificatea degree certificate showing your qualifications
  • Degree Transcripta full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
  • Personal Statementa detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
  • Referencea reference letter from your university discussing your academic ability


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

However, given the shortage of health economists in Scotland, the UK and internationally, and, therefore, 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 utilise tools in their own organisation.

Industry Links

HERU has strong links with health policy makers across the UK including the Evidence Directorate of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Analytical Services Division (ASD) of the Scottish Government, NHS Education Scotland and NHS Health Scotland.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Professor Paul McNamee
Dr Graham Scotland
Mr Chris Spoor
Ms Aileen Neilson
Dr Shona Fielding
Programme Coordinator
Dr Shelley Farrar

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


College of Life Sciences and Medicine Graduate School
University of Aberdeen
Polwarth Building

AB25 2ZD
+44 (0)1224 437096
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