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Rationality and Incentives in Decision Making



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7 wks


Avg 10 hrs/wk

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Human decision-making is rarely as straightforward or as rational as we imagine it to be. Explore the fundamental principles of how people make decisions and what behavioural economics tells us about the way decisions can be influenced.


About this microcredential

To most people, economics is the science of ‘money and wealth’ – from personal finances to a nation’s growth. But the discipline is much broader than this. In truth, economics is the science of how people make decisions and what drives them to make some decisions rather than others.

This microcredential will guide you through the foundations of the standard economics of decision-making, highlighting the contributions of behavioural economics. You will become familiar with key economic concepts such as incentives, marginal utility, opportunity costs and unintended consequences. You will delve into the issues raised by individual incentives aimed at influencing decision making. You will also explore the challenges for markets, organisations and policy, learning about concepts such as asymmetry of information, moral hazard, signalling, incomplete contracts, welfare analysis and public choice. This course will leave you with greater acumen in making and assessing economic decisions – both as an individual and for your organisation.

Key benefits of this microcredential

This microcredential has been designed to equip participants to understand:

  • The leading economic theories explaining how and why people make certain decisions
  • The foundational concepts underlying the standard economics of decision-making, and the contributions of behavioural economics
  • How to analyse the nature of the incentives of different agents in an economic situation
  • How to evaluate the likely effect of changes in policy and incentives on behaviour
  • How to interpret behavioural economics concepts and empirical and/or experimental methods, so you can apply knowledge in local and international contexts
  • How to design interventions to affect behavioural change for rational agents.

This microcredential aligns with the 3 credit point subject, Rationality and Incentives (23714) in the Graduate Certificate in Behavioural Economics (C11299), Graduate Diploma in Applied Policy (C06121) and Master of Applied Policy (C04323).

This microcredential may also qualify as recognition of prior learning at this and other institutions.

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A digital badge and certificate will be awarded upon successful completion of the relevant assessment requirements and attainment of learning outcomes of the microcredential.  

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Full price: $2,536 (GST-free)*

*Price subject to change. Please check price at time of purchase.

Discounts are available for this course. For further details and to verify if you qualify, please check the Discounts section under Additional course information.

Enrolment conditions

Course purchase is subject to UTS Open Terms and Conditions. 

COVID-19 response 

UTS complies with latest Government health advice. Delivery of all courses complies with the UTS response to COVID-19.

Additional course information

Course outline

Module 1 – The Economic approach

In this module we will review the key foundations of the standard economics of decisions. Concepts covered in this module are a prerequisite to understanding the contributions of behavioural economics.

Topics covered include:


  • The economic approach
  • Rationality
  • Preferences
  • The idea of homo economicus.

Key economic ideas

  • Opportunity costs
  • The concept of ‘value’
  • Economic decisions
  • Markets
  • The role of incentives.

Trade-offs with risk and time

Module 2 – The Challenge of incentives

In this module, we delve into the challenges raised by individual incentives, dividing this into challenges in markets, organisations and for policy.Topics covered include:

In markets

  • Asymmetry of information
  • Reputation
  • Signalling.

In organisations

  • Firms
  • Incompleteness of contracts
  • Organisational goals and individual incentives.

In policy

  • Judging good policy
  • Good properties of the market
  • Market limitations
  • Government policy.

Important information - participants will receive access to all learning materials in the three weeks before the official course start date. During this time, participants are strongly encouraged to commence working through the course materials in preparation for the first supported learning session, marking the official course start date.

Course delivery

This course is taught through a blend of online resources, self-directed study and four live Q&A sessions. Course content will be presented to participants in a variety of formats (lecture slides, notes, videos, articles) and delivered online via the UTS Open Canvas learning management system.

At the beginning of each unit, participants are expected to review materials and complete tasks on their own before attending online review sessions with the lecturer, spread across the learning period. Materials will be provided to participants on the learning management system but participants are also expected to seek information independently.

Specific insights from economic thinking will be taught through principles and applications, with discussion of many examples where economic thinking cast useful light in understanding a ‘puzzle’ or problem.

Course learning objectives

On successful completion of this microcredential, participants should be able to: 

  • Analyse the nature of the incentives of different agents in an economic situation 
  • Evaluate the likely effect of changes in policy and incentives on behaviour. 


There are two individual assessment tasks for this microcredential.

Task 1: Online quiz (weight: 40%)

This assessment requires the participant to answer a series of short questions about the course content covered so far.

Task 2: Report (weight: 60%)

Participants will be provided with documents about a policy. They will be asked to analyse the likely economic consequences of the policy, applying knowledge gained during the course. They will present their analysis in the form of a report to a third party.

In order to pass the microcredential, participants must achieve at least 50% of the course’s total marks and complete both assessments.



To complete this online course, you will need a personal computer with adequate internet access and sufficient software and bandwidth to support web conferencing. You will also require an operating system with a web browser compatible with Canvas.


Discounts are available for this course as follows:

  • 5% discount for UTS alumni
  • 5% discount for strategic partners
  • 5% discount for 2 enrolments in UTS Business School microcredentials (same person or same organisation)
  • 10% discount for 3 or more enrolments in UTS Business School microcredentials (same person or same organisation)

Discounts cannot be combined and only one discount can be applied per person per course session. Discounts can only be applied to the full price. Discounts cannot be applied to any offered special price. 

How to obtain your discount voucher code

Please contact the team at with your student number, strategic partnership details or details of group enrolments, to obtain your discount voucher code. 

How to apply your discount voucher 

  • If you are eligible for a UTS alumni discount, please ensure you have provided your UTS student number during checkout. If you have forgotten your UTS student number, email with your full name, UTS degree and year of commencement.  
  • Add this course to your cart 
  • Click on "View Cart" (blue shopping trolley at top right of screen). You will need to sign in or sign up to UTS Open 
  • Enter your eligible code beneath the "Have a voucher code?" prompt and click on the blue "Apply" button 
  • Verify your voucher code has been successfully applied before clicking on the blue "Checkout" button. 

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Acknowledgement of Country

UTS acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the Boorooberongal people of the Dharug Nation, the Bidiagal people and the Gamaygal people, upon whose ancestral lands our university stands. We would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians of knowledge for these lands.