Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

MA Transport Economics

This programme is designed for students with a background in economics - it deepens their existing understanding of economic methodologies and applies these to the transport sector. Students learn to use economics to first understand and then address transport issues.

The emphasis is on enabling students to apply techniques to formulate and critically analyse key policy questions, which include:

  • What are the true costs of transport and how can they be measured effectively?
  • Should users pay directly for their personal contribution to environmental damage?
  • How does the level of taxation influence people's choice of transport?
  • Has road congestion charging been a success?
  • What role should the state play in owning and operating public transport?
  • Which forms of transport regulation are most effective?

A set of core methodologies underpins the programme:

  • Welfare economics, appraisal and cost-benefit analysis 
    (social welfare functions; public goods and externalities; private and social discount rates)
  • Economics of production and efficiency measurement 
    (economies of scale, density and scope; measures of productivity and efficiency)
  • Pricing of transport and network industries 
    (first and second best pricing; pricing for congestion and environment effects
  • Regulatory economics (forms of regulation; regulatory price reviews; public versus private ownership; approaches to de-regulation)
  • Econometric analysis: theory and applied 
    (efficiency frontier methods; demand forecasting; discrete choice models of travel behaviour).

It is the only course of its type in the UK and provides a unique skills set. Graduates are in high demand and destinations include central and local government, consultancies, regulators, international agencies and transport operators.

Compulsory modules

Optional modules

Principles of Transport Economics
Welfare Economics & Cost-Benefit Analysis
Transport Econometrics
Principles of Transport Modelling
Economics of Transport Regulation

Analysing Transport & Society
Funding for Projects
Global Issues in Transport
Green Logistics
Public Transport Planning and Management
Choice Modelling and Stated Preference Survey Design
System Dynamics: Modelling Policy
Transport in Development
Transport Investment Appraisal

Students study compulsory modules plus two optional modules. All optional modules are offered subject to a minimum level of demand and thus not all modules may run in any given year. Please contact us for further details.
The programme is offered on a full-time study basis (12 months) or as part-time study (24-36 months).

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Postgraduate study involves a range of teaching methods, supported by independent learning. In addition to the traditional lecture and seminar formats, students experience a blend encompassing workshops, computer exercises, practical sessions, directed reading, reflective journal, student-led discussions and tutorials. Assessment is equally varied and can include coursework essays, case-study reports, group assignments, posters, presentations and exams. Fieldwork also forms an important part of the learning experience and ranges from half-day local site visits to a week-long European field trip.