The Health Economics Group is very active in training up enthusiastic individuals to become practising health economists.
Our successful MSc programme has been running since 2009 and includes both fulltime (1 year) and part-time (2 or 3 year) options. We also offer a postgraduate diploma for those wishing to gain some basic training in the subject.
Core components of our course equip you with the basic toolkit of economics and how to apply it to the health care sector at both a macro (whole-systems) and micro (individual) level. You will also learn the principles of economic evaluation, variants of which are used by many health care agencies around the world to determine the value for money of different health care interventions.
A variety of optional modules will give you a rounded degree allowing you to embark on a career in health economics, or alternatively prepare you for further study with a PhD.
Finally, all MSc students are required to complete their studies with a research dissertation. Under the guidance of an experienced member of our group, this is an opportunity to undertake some research on a live topic to contribute to the field as well as completing your degree course.
Our alumni have gone on to employment in a wide variety of jobs, as well as further study. We maintain close ties with many of our alumni and the experiences of some of them are described below. If you would like to discuss their experiences with one of our graduates, please get in touch with Charlie Handy and we will do our best to make arrangements for you.
I graduated from the MSc in Health Economics in 2013, having worked on it part time as part of a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) methods fellowship awarded to me shortly after graduating from Brunel University in Economics. During my undergraduate studies, I had a brief work placement at an economics consultancy (Oxford Economics). I was quite inspired by consultancy work and became determined to at least give myself the option to end up in a consultancy role in the future. Yet, I was unsure of how to achieve this and make a positive societal contribution at the same time. I applied for the NIHR grant and MSc programme on the advice of Martin Buxton at Brunel University, who suggested that health economics might be a good fit for me. Initially, I was particularly interested in understanding medical policy making – in particular, how economists and clinicians can work together to improve health service provision. During the MSc, I developed more of an acute interest in econometric theory and analysis, along with building health economic models. The skills picked up during the Health Economics MSc at UEA were and still are invaluable. My MSc dissertation was to apply a smoking cessation intervention to an existing patient-level simulation of type-II diabetes and its complications, forecasting the cost effectiveness of this prospective change.
Afterwards, I undertook a PhD in applied economics at UEA, focusing on statistical analysis attempting to link macroeconomic indicators to population health outcomes. This fundamental theoretical and applied knowledge of economics, health economics, and econometrics positioned me well to move into a consultancy role as planned. I attended a Health Economics Study Group conference, at which I met some people from BresMed Health Solutions.
I started at BresMed in 2016 and have not looked back. The pace in a professional health economics consultancy is much faster and more focused than in a purely academic setting. Given my primarily academic experience to that point I found it very challenging and motivating (exciting even) at the same time. I learned so much in the first three months (whilst continuing to write my thesis in the evenings and weekends) about the reality of decision making under uncertainty, the state of the pharmaceutical industry, and the extreme time pressure applied by industry and government that it is difficult to articulate. In the first year alone, I had worked in oncology, haematology, immunology, ophthalmology, and several other disease areas.
The consultancy environment is very engaging, including a mixture of business, analysis, and academic work. Some activities are simply to build cost-effectiveness models using existing methods, whilst others demand new and interesting ways to tackle issues with data limitations or problematic statistical analysis. Yet, all of these have a real impact on policy at least in the UK. I have published several papers since starting at BresMed as well as being engaged with the industry and medical policy making in the UK.
Overall, studying at UEA set me up for a career in health economics, and I will be forever grateful for that.
I graduated from the MSc in Health Economics in 2015 (completed November 2014) and studied full-time. My MSc dissertation focused on a systematic review and critical appraisal of economic evaluations of interventions that are provided to people who have had a stroke. After completing my MSc, I then continued at UEA to embark on a full-time PhD (funded by the National Institute for Health Research) which I completed in October 2019. My PhD focused on the economics of acute asthmatics and their quality of life, and links to my publications can be found here. Since January 2018, I have been working full-time at IQVIA (formerly known as Quintiles and IMS Health) within the health economics and outcomes research team in the London office. Typical projects involve working on systematic and targeted literature reviews, cost-effectiveness models, budget impact models, health technology assessment submissions (e.g. for The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), and development of dissemination materials (e.g. conference abstracts, posters and manuscripts). Studying at UEA, for both my MSc and PhD, helped me to navigate my core interests in health economics and develop the skills and techniques required in my chosen career. The core and optional modules gave me the opportunity to learn across multi-disciplinary faculties, which in turn, expanded my network and integrated my learning. Aside from the course and the knowledge from the lecturers, UEA is a superb environment to learn in with fantastic grounds on and off campus.
After finishing the undergraduate study in my home country, Vietnam, I chose a full-time masters course in Health Economics and graduated in 2016. Since my undergraduate background was economics, this course provided me not only public health and health economics knowledge, but also open up some opportunities in terms of career and personal development. Regarding career development, I have been working as a health economics researcher and lecturer in Hanoi Medical University, the top medical university of Vietnam. My master thesis was about assessing the impacts of the socioeconomic inequalities on ill-health outcomes in England. My supervisor, Prof. Ruth Hancock, supported me to accomplish my “first academic work” which inspired me to continually conduct several researches on health equality and equity in Vietnam. About personal development, since my classmates and friends worked as nurses, physicians… in different health facilities in the UK, I built up my social network during this course and gained more confidence in communicating and interacting with people. Moreover, we had lots of outdoor activities together which helped me understand their cultures and learn from their ways of critical thinking. These experiences I could not have had if I chose another course in another educational institution. I have to say that choosing MSc. Health Economics in UEA is the best decision I have ever made.
I completed my full-time MSc course in Health Economics in 2018. During the course, I have taken modules that provided me with great knowledge in the areas of health policy, the economics of healthcare, and healthcare decision making. Out of the many topics covered in this course, it was the economics of elderly care that immediately captured my interest. Thanks to the diversity of expertise among the faculty at UEA Health Economics Group, I was able to take this interest further in my dissertation project. My MSc dissertation, supervised by Dr Christopher Skedgel, was a discrete choice experiment to evaluate the appropriateness of the QALY as a measure of benefit in the economic evaluation of end-of-life care. Currently, I am a Marie Curie fellow and a PhD student at the University of Groningen, where I am investigating the sustainability of informal care provision and its economic burden in Europe.
During my time at UEA, I have never felt that being an international student hinders my academic study or social life. On the contrary, since my arrival in Norwich, I felt welcomed and supported, and this is what made my time at UEA one of the most memorable and fruitful experiences of my life. I certainly recommend this programme to students that are looking to get out of their comfort zone and willing to discover the world of health economics and policy research.
I graduated from the MSc in Health Economics in 2017. I studied part-time alongside my freelance job as a Medical Writer and my family responsibilities. My initial motivation for taking the MSc was to enhance my skills as a Medical Writer, through a more in-depth understanding of quantitative study methods and new skills in the area of Health Economics, both of which were much desired by clients. Having undertaken the course, I found my interest in Health Economics was greater than that of medical writing and have since pursued a career in this area. I first worked for a consultancy, where my newly acquired skills in health economics were required, and have since joined the HEG team at UEA as a Senior Research Associate. My MSc dissertation was a decision analytic model comparing the cost-effectiveness of immediate and long-term ticagrelor with usual care for the prevention of further events following a heart attack, and my current work involves economic evaluations alongside clinical trials. This is what I have most enjoyed about the course and subsequent work, the analytical, and sometimes philosophical, approach to answering difficult questions around the fair allocation of limited resources in healthcare. Studying at UEA was an enjoyable experience, involving collaboration with fellow students and faculty, which was flexible enough for me to choose the courses I wanted and work these around my other commitments.
I graduated from the MSc in Health Economics in 2019. I studied full time. My dissertation was an economic evaluation of a novel device for biopsy of the prostate. This project was a part of an ongoing NIHR i4i project collaborating with academics from UEA, the University of Cambridge, NIHR and Prostate Cancer UK. The course and supporting lecturers gave me a great insight into the working world of health economics, including privileged participation in ongoing project meetings at Addenbrooke’s hospital, Cambridge. I am now a senior research associate for the health economics and prioritisation theme for the NIHR ARC East of England, based at UEA. What I enjoy most about the course was the close collaboration of multi-disciplinary members of the faculty and wider university network. The module choices really allow you to tailor the course to the career you want and prepare you very well for the working world.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here you will find the answers to some frequently asked questions about our MSc course. If you have any other questions that answered here, please feel free to contact Charlie Handy.
Health Economists are in great demand. Employment opportunities exist in:
- Government departments such as the UK Department of Health and Social Care and its equivalents in other countries
- Public bodies (for example in the UK the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), NHS organisations, Public Health bodies)
- International agencies such as the World Health Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
- Private organisations such as pharmaceutical companies and consultancies
- Academia – your next destination could be to undertake a PhD or employment as a researcher paving the way for a career in universities across the world. A number of past graduates now work at UEA.
No. The standard course is designed for those with and without an economics background. Core modules, and most other modules assume no prior knowledge of economics. Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, some have not studied economics but have backgrounds in clinical subjects (medicine, public health, pharmacy etc.), biomedical sciences, statistics; and some have studied economics but are new to applying economics to health. A couple of module options are open only to those with an economics background. There is also a separate ‘SeNSS’ MSc in Health Economics for which an economics background is needed.
You will take 6 taught modules (20 credits each) and undertake a research dissertation (60 credits).
You will take three core taught modules: Introduction to Research Methods, Health Economics, Economic Evaluation in Health and Care.
You will choose one taught module from: Econometric Methods; Further Quantitative Methods in Health Research; Econometric Theory (open only to students with at least a 2:1 in economics at undergraduate level).
You will choose two taught modules from: Applied Econometrics, Economic Concepts, Systematic Reviews and Research Synthesis, Welfare and Evaluation in Development, Economic Theory I (open only to students with at least a 2:1 in economics at undergraduate level).
You should expect to devote at least 200 hours effort for each taught module including the time spent in seminars and lectures (typically 30-35 hours per module).
You will undertake a research dissertation on a health economics topic to which you will need to devote around 600 hours of study.
The MSc in Health Economics can be taken full time over 1 year or part time over 2 or 3 years. Part time students will do their dissertation in their final year (year 2 or year 3). They will normally take Introduction to Research Method and Health Economics in their first year. If studying over three years, they will normally select one further taught module in their first year and study three further taught modules in their second year. If studying over two years, students will select two or three further taught modules in their first year (i.e. 4 or 5 modules in total in the first year), taking the two or one remaining taught module(s) in their second year, as well as their dissertation.
This depends on the module options selected.
Teaching sessions for each of the following modules are currently confined to one of the days in the week, although not the same day for every module: Introduction to Research Methods (Autumn term currently Wednesday mornings), Health Economics (Autumn Term, currently Thursday mornings), Economic Evaluation in Health and Care (Spring, currently Monday mornings), Further Quantitative Research Methods (Spring, currently Wednesday mornings), Systematic Reviews and Research Synthesis (Spring Term, all day currently every other Thursday).
Other modules have teaching sessions spread throughout the week.
Teaching and assessments are mostly completed by early to mid-June, after which you will concentrate on your research dissertation (if studying full time or in the second year of a two-year part-time course; if studying over three years your final year is usually devoted to your dissertation).
Note that timetabling may change so this is a guide only.
Assessments include closed and open book exams, written assignments (which may include data analyses) and statistical/data analysis computer tests.
For the dissertation you will undertake a health economics research project and write it up as a 15,000 word report divided into chapters. You will work under the guidance of a supervisor from the Health Economics Group at UEA. A choice of topics will be offered rooted in supervisors’ interests and current research. If you have a suitable topic of your own and access to any relevant data, you may be able to base your dissertation on that. The dissertation is an important component of the course accounting for a third of the total available marks. It is a great chance to get some practical experience of health economics research.
The MSc Health Economics SeNSS (which stands for South East Network for Social Sciences) is designed for those who have graduated with at least a 2:1 in economics. This pathway specifically prepares you for PhD study, and if eligible, enables you to apply for funding via the South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) Doctoral Training Partnership, to which UEA belongs. Funding may be applied for as either a 1+3 Studentship (MSc Health Economics SeNSS + PhD), or solely for a 3 year PhD Studentship if you graduate from the Masters course with a Distinction / Merit. Whether you are interested in 1+3 or 3 year funding, you will need to develop a PhD proposal in conjunction with a potential supervisor from the Health Economics Group. Applications for SeNSS funding open each October with deadlines for submission in the following January/February. Further information is available here. (Health Economics is part of the Economics Pathway).
In this pathway you will take the following taught modules and undertake a health economics research dissertation:
- Economic Theory I (microeconomics)
- Economic Theory II (macroeconomics)
- Econometric Theory
- Applied Econometrics
- Health Economics
- Economic Evaluation in Health and Care
You will also take a short non-credit-bearing module in qualitative research methods.
We welcome applications from medical students wishing to study the course while intercalating from their medical degrees. In the past we have had medical students from UEA and elsewhere who have successfully completed the course after their 3rd or 4th year as a medical student. Entry requirements are that you have successfully completed all components of you medical degree to date and you can demonstrate your interest in, aptitude for, and basic understanding of what the course will entail.