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EC984: Experimental Economics

  • Daniel Sgroi

    Module Leader
  • Christopher Roth

    Module Lecturer
15/18 CATS - Department of Economics
Spring Module

Principal Aims

The module will introduce students to issues and principles of experimental design, conduct and analysis across the areas which have been the main subject matter of experimental economics - markets, public goods, game theory and individual decision making. It will encourage students to consider the scope and limitations of 'laboratory' experiments in economics and to compare this research tool with others such as surveys and field experiments.

Principal Learning Outcomes

Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of applying experimental methods in economic research - and in particular, identify the different areas of economic behaviour where such methods are more or less useful; Demonstrate understanding of and apply basic principles of experimental design, conduct and analysis; Demonstrate ability to critically evaluate key experiments in the different areas where experimental methods have most often been applied; Evaluate the main controversies in the field; Demonstrate understanding of how such methods might be used to address issues that are, as yet, unresolved.


Core methods normally covered at the start of the course:

• Introducing experimental economics: historical background; what experiments might (not) be good for; the relationship between experimental economics and behavioural economics; laboratory vs. the field; strengths and limitations.

• Experimental methodology: important issues in design; using treatments; control vs. realism; recruitment; incentives; priming and ethics.

The course then moves on to cover different topics which may include some topics chosen from the examples below or others:

• Individual decision experiments: basic tools and methods; risk and uncertainty; intertemporal decision making; noise/error/imprecision.

• Herding and information: brief outline of informational herding theory; tests of herding behaviour; extensions: prices and endogenous timing; error modelling in experiments.

• Subjective wellbeing: measuring happiness in experiments; mood induction; causes and effects; experimental evidence.

• Strategic Interaction: explorations/tests of ‘conventional’ game theory; risk, preferences and social preferences; noise/error/imprecision and reasoning.


Core Module
C8P7 - Year 1
Optional Module
L1P6 - Year 1, L1PD - Year 1, C8P8 - Year 1
Pre or Co-requisites
The module is accessible to anyone with a good undergraduate background in economics, psychology or similar.


Assessment Method
15 CATS - Coursework (100%)
18 CATS - 2 hour exam (100%)
Coursework Details
4000-word essay (100%)
Exam Timing

Exam Rubric

Time Allowed: 2 Hours

Answer TWO of the FIVE questions (50 marks each). All questions have parts and the maximum marks for each part are indicated in bold in brackets at the end of the part. You may NOT answer parts from more than two questions.

Approved pocket calculators are allowed.

Read carefully the instructions on the answer book provided and make sure that the particulars required are entered on each answer book. If you answer more questions than are required and do not indicate which answers should be ignored, we will mark the requisite number of answers in the order in which they appear in the answer book(s): answers beyond that number will not be considered.

Previous exam papers can be found in the University’s past papers archive. Please note that previous exam papers may not have operated under the same exam rubric or assessment weightings as those for the current academic year. The content of past papers may also be different.

Reading Lists