Learn to use economic evaluations to inform value-based health care decisions.

In this Masters-level online short course, you’ll learn how economic evaluations are conducted and how they can be used to inform the efficient allocation of scarce health care resources.

With the support of a highly experienced team, you’ll learn how:

  • to identify and collect appropriate data for use in economic evaluations
  • economic evaluations are conducted using patient-level data collected alongside clinical trials
  • economic evaluations are conducted using decision analytic modelling (DAM) techniques to synthesise evidence from multiple sources
  • the results of economic evaluation can be used to inform value-based health care decisions.

Cost-effectiveness analysis

You’ll gain a practical understanding of how estimates of cost-effectiveness are generated, how uncertainty around estimates is characterised, and how the results should be interpreted to inform the efficient allocation of scarce health care resources.

You’ll also discover how economic evaluation is used at a national level to promote the uptake of health technologies that offer value for money.

Who can join this online economic evaluation course?

This distance learning course is aimed at those who work in the delivery of health care, or related professions.

You do not need to have a background in economics but you do need to be competent in Microsoft Excel.

This course has a prerequisite

Before joining this advanced online course, you need to complete the introductory course:

Build credits towards a Masters degree

This online course is part of online:

You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards this MSc qualification.

What you’ll study

You’ll cover the following topics in this course.

Identifying costs and benefits for inclusion in an economic evaluation

  • Mapping out clinical event pathways.
  • Identifying costs and consequences.

Collecting and analysing cost-effectiveness data alongside randomised controlled trials

  • Collection and valuation of resource use and outcome data in trial-based economic evaluation.
  • Analysis, presentation and interpretation of trial-based cost-effectiveness data.

Decision modelling in economic evaluation

  • Concepts of decision modelling for health care economic evaluation.
  • Decision tree models for health economic evaluation.
  • Markov models for health economic evaluation.
  • Partitioned survival models for health economic evaluation.

Using economic evaluation to inform health care decision making

  • Economic evaluation and value-based decision making.
  • Efficiency and equity.

You’ll also examine the technology appraisal processes of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and other health technology assessment (HTA) agencies.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to...

  • Identify the costs and benefits that should be included, from a range of different perspectives, in an economic evaluation of alternative health care interventions.
  • Inform the design and analysis of an economic evaluation based on cost and outcome data collected alongside a randomised controlled trial of alternative health care interventions.
  • Discuss the common limitations of RCTs as a vehicle for the economic evaluation of health care interventions.
  • Articulate a conceptual understating of how decision modelling can be used to overcome the limitations of RCTs for the purpose of economic evaluation.
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of how simple decision models can be developed and implemented in Microsoft Excel.
  • Interpret and assess the robustness of the results of an economic evaluation for the purpose of informing policy and practice in health care.

Why study health economic evaluation with the University of Aberdeen?

You’re in expert hands

We’ve been delivering online and distance learning for decades.

Award-winning research

We’re proud winners of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize, the highest national honour for a UK university, for sustained excellence in health research over the last 40 years.

Why we were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize

NHS and alumni discounts

NHS staff get 10% off this online course. University of Aberdeen alumni get 20% off.

How you’ll study

Online learning

This distance-learning economic evaluation course is delivered flexibly, 100% online.

You can learn anywhere in the world, with no need for a study visa, and manage your study hours to suit you.

Your teaching

This course is taught at Masters level.

Teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:

  • videos
  • audio clips and podcasts
  • slide shows
  • online tutorials
  • reading materials
  • discussion boards with your colleagues and tutors
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library.

Course materials

The course provides a structured but flexible learning approach through the periodic release of materials, including a study guide and worksheets, links to journal articles and e-books, relevant websites, video and audio podcasts, and online discussions.

Live online tutorials

Live tutorial sessions are held in the virtual meeting room throughout the course, covering key topics. These sessions will be recorded, so you can access them after they’ve taken place.

Your tutors

You’ll study with a team of practising health economists from our Health Economics Research Unit (HERU).

Your tutors are actively involved in policy-shaping research, and HERU is one of the leading centres for health economics research in Europe.

HERU researchers work closely with national bodies, including NICE, to appraise economic evaluation evidence used to inform reimbursement decisions for pharmaceuticals and diagnostic devices in the UK.

This course is assessed entirely online.

We’ll use several types of assessment, including:

  • practical Excel-based exercises
  • short-answer questions
  • essays, and
  • presentations.

Live online tutorials

This course features weekly online tutorials. Each tutorial is live and scheduled to last for around one hour.

Tutorial times will be organised flexibly at the start of the course. Your course coordinator will consider everyone’s circumstances and time zones before setting up tutorial times.

Study hours

The course totals approximately 150 hours of study and assessment time. That’s around 10 – 15 hours per week.

This is an indicative guide to the time required for a typical student at this level to achieve the learning outcomes. This includes time for independent study, as well as teaching and assessments.

You can largely set your own study hours each week to cover the materials. MyAberdeen is available 24/7, so you can log in and study when it suits you.

Activities at fixed times

You’ll have live online tutorials at fixed times, plus assessments with deadlines. But otherwise, you can access and work through your course at your convenience.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you aren’t alone in your studies. You’ll have contact with your tutors via MyAberdeen and email. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.

We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.

Your course coordinator

Professor Graham Scotland

Graham leads the Assessment of Technologies theme in our Health Economics Research Unit. Highly experienced in the area of health technology assessment, his current research spans both model- and trial-based economic evaluation.

View Graham’s profile

Study with the award-winning Health Economics Research Unit (HERU)

The first unit in the UK and Europe to focus its research on health economics, HERU was founded in 1977.

Its impactful research informed the introduction of routine breast cancer screening, smokefree legislation, and minimum unit pricing in Scotland.

HERU has active links with health policymakers across the UK, including:

  • the Evidence Directorate of Healthcare Improvement Scotland
  • the Analytical Services Division (ASD) of the Scottish Government
  • NHS Education Scotland, and
  • NHS Health Scotland.
Read about HERU

Where this will take you

Towards a Masters

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this distance-learning course. You can use these credits towards our:

Masters in Health Economics for Health Professionals

Advance your career in health. Develop sought-after research skills and build your knowledge of health economics tools and principles. 10% discount for NHS staff.

View MSc Health Economics for Health Professionals


There is a shortage of health economists in Scotland, the UK and internationally, and a lack of health economics knowledge and skills.

It’s increasingly important for non-economists in the health sector to have a clearer understanding of how they can effectively apply and interpret economic concepts.

This course aims to address this known skills gap.

In-demand skills for the health sector

As a health researcher or professional working in health, government, academia, or the pharmaceutical industry, you’ll gain:

  • in-demand economic evaluation skills
  • the knowledge and confidence to interpret and apply economic evaluation data
  • the ability to use economic evaluation tools in your organisation to aid value-based decision making.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for CPD hours. Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You do not need to provide proof of your qualifications.

But you do need to check the entry guidance above to understand the level of teaching delivered, to decide if this course is right for you.

If you do not have qualifications from the UK, check the equivalent teaching level for your country.

Visa requirements

You do not need a student visa to study online with us.

English language requirements

Teaching is delivered in English.

You do not have to provide proof of your English language skills to join this course. But we want to make sure that you can use English well enough to study successfully.

Recommended level of English

This course uses our Postgraduate Higher level of English language proficiency.

These are our Postgraduate Higher requirements, and these are minimum scores.

IELTS Academic, IELTS UKVI Academic, and IELTS Online (not IELTS Indicator or IELTS General Training)

  • 6.5 overall
  • 5.5 for listening and speaking
  • 6.0 for reading and writing

TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition

  • 90 overall
  • 17 for listening
  • 21 for reading
  • 20 for speaking
  • 21 for writing
  • TOEFL DI code is 0818

Cambridge English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency

  • 176 overall
  • 162 for listening and speaking
  • 169 for reading and writing

LanguageCert Academic/LanguageCert Academic SELT

  • 70 overall
  • 60 for listening and speaking
  • 65 for reading and writing

LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken) – Online / In-centre

  • Overall High Pass
  • 33 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 38 for writing

Oxford ELLT Digital – English Language Level Test Online

  • 7.0 overall
  • 5.0 for listening and speaking
  • 6.0 for reading and writing

PTE Academic (online test not accepted)

  • 62 overall
  • 59 for listening, reading, speaking and writing

For more information about language qualifications see our English Language Requirements page.

You will need access to:

A computer (PC, laptop or Mac) operating on either:

  • Windows 10 or later
  • macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.

Most teaching materials are smartphone- and tablet-friendly. But we recommend a proper laptop or desktop for completing assignments comfortably.

Reliable internet access

We recommend:

  • a wired connection
  • a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.

Speakers or headphones

  • We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
  • A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one for some interactive sessions.


We’ll give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.

If your course requires specialist software, we’ll provide you with access to this and a licence that lasts throughout your studies.

See our detailed IT requirements for more information.

When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.

But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.

Your most important commitment will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.

Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your studies each week:

  • Be realistic
  • Create a weekly schedule as a guide

If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.

Fee payment

Your course fee needs to be paid in full before you start your course.

We accept payment via Visa Debit, Visa Credit and Mastercard.

Ways to save

You may be able to get help funding this course via:

  • discounts – if any discounts are available for this course, they’ll appear in the section below
  • employer sponsorship – we accept full and partial fee payments from sponsors.

Find out more about funding options.

Student card

All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.

Learning resources

Access to all the books and resources you need are included in your tuition fee. They’ll be made available to you online and you do not have to buy your own copies.


You may wish to set aside a small budget for printing, depending on how you like to work.

You do not need to provide proof of your qualifications to join this course. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. For this course, you’d usually have at least:

  • a 2:1 (upper-second-class) degree, or
  • relevant experience that supports this level of training, and
  • competency in Microsoft Excel.

This course has a prerequisite

To join this advanced course, you need to have completed our introductory online course:

Apply for this course

Start date
27 January 2025

This course has a prerequisite

You must complete Economic Evaluation - Principles and Frameworks before you can join this course.

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