Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

MSc 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.

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.

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).

Applicants should normally have or expect a first or good second class honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline. For the Transport Economics course, a relevant Undergraduate degree in Economics (single or joint) is required.

Other graduates and those with professional qualifications plus experience in the sector will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Please also refer to our Admissions Policy document.

English language

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of their language proficiency. This is normally in the form of a recent test certificate:

English testMinimum score required
IELTS6.5 overall 
with not less than 6.0 in any component
Pearson (PTE) Academic64 overall
with at least 60 in all components

Applicants who have not quite achieved the minimum score may be admitted in certain circumstances. Those achieving an overall IELTS score of 6.0 may be accepted conditionally, on attendance of the University’s 6-week pre-sessional English language course. 

For further details including recognised alternatives to IELTS, please contact us or visit the Language Centre website.  The Language Centre provides a range of English for Academic Purposes Pre-sessional courses which are designed to help international students develop the necessary language and academic study skills required for successful postgraduate study.  These courses  start  in September, January, April, July or August.  For further information, please see visit the Language Centre’s website or contact via email: langc(at)

To find your local test centre, please visit the IELTS website.

ITS Masters programmes are recognised by the leading professional bodies in the transport sector.

The Transport Economics programme fulfils the educational requirements for membership of both the Chartered Institute of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport UK (CILT UK). It is also an approved degree for the Transport Planning Professional (TPP) qualification.



ITS Programme:


Bachelors degree
& University:


ITS dissertation topic:

Dissertation Supervisor:

Brad Woodworth


Transport Economics


BA Economics-Mathematics 

Colby College

Explaining Choice of Access Modes to Airports

Professor Mark Wardman

What is it about transport that interests and motivates you to study it?
Everyone uses transport every day, all you have to do is walk out your front door.  You know the choices that you made for transport in your day, but what about the other people?  And what happens when too many people make the same choice?  And how do you pay for these?  When you study transport everything starts making more sense.

Why did you decide to study at ITS? 
ITS is one of the few places in the world to offer a degree in Transport Economics.  It is also taught as a transport course primarily with practical examples, instead of as an economics course with some transport theory thrown in on the side.

How would you describe the experience of being an ITS Masters student?
It's not easy, but it is incredibly worthwhile.  You may have to work really hard, but everyone else on the program is doing the same, and you bond through it. You also learn an incredible amount, not just in lectures, but also at the bar with your classmates, where you can talk about transport in everyone's native country.

What have you enjoyed most about the first semester and what are you looking forward to in the next semester?
Being back at school and learning things again.  I learned more about transport in one semester that I'd managed to teach myself for the previous 5 years.  I hope this continues in the spring.

What have the lecture and seminars been like? And the teaching staff?
Lectures have been pretty good.  I really enjoy the material so I try to stay as engaged as possible. Teaching staff has been great.  Despite a department doing a lot of research at a large university, the staff are approachable and always have time for the students.

How have you found living in Leeds and being part of the University?
Leeds is a little secret of the UK.  It's a large city with a vibrant atmosphere, lots of good shops, friendly people, tons of students, and lots of student activities. It's also a short train ride from the dales.  You can get almost anywhere in the UK by either direct Coach or train.  The best part is, while there's a lot to do, there are limited tourists, as they all go to York instead.

What do you aim to do once you’ve completed your Masters? 
I'm currently headed for the real world.  I'd like to work somewhere that I can research projects and see them implemented in a short period of time.  In other words solve some of the transport issues facing the world in reality instead of just doing it on paper.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about studying for a Masters in transport at ITS?
Do it, you won't regret it.



ITS Programme:


Bachelors degree & University:

ITS dissertation topic:


Hsin Pei Shan


Transport Economics 


Transportation and Communication Management, National Cheng Kung University

The take-up of alternative fuel vehicles

Dr Simon Shepherd

Why did you decide to study at ITS?  
The main reason why I chose ITS is its good reputation - especially in transport economics, as only few universities offer this programme. ITS also has a significant reputation for transport research. Finally, I believe this degree will help me find a good job.

What is it about transport that interests and motivates you to study it?
Transport is a necessity for humans’ daily lives, and good planning, analysis, investment and a long-term vision of transport can have a profound effect on societies.
Transport is also a subject that has both practical and theoretical aspects, and it’s this that appeals to me.

How have you found living in the UK and Leeds in particular?
The lifestyle here in the UK is different from that in Taiwan. I have to be more independent and adjust to the way of life. Leeds is a small but perfectly formed city and almost all of what I need can be found in the city centre. It’s a good place for shopping, in particular for foreign students since a variety of international goods are sold here.
Time management is also more important in UK, since early booked train tickets are much cheaper - for example when travelling to London for transport related conferences.

How would you describe the experience of being an ITS Masters student?  
It is an amazing experience to be a student at ITS. My classmates come from all over the world and it’s very interesting to hear about various transport applications in different countries. A feature of lectures here I admire the most is that students can apply what they have learned to the coursework, as the requirements of the courseworks are closely related to the content of lectures.

What have you enjoyed most about the first semester and what are you looking forward to in the next semester? 
Although it was a really challenging time when the courseworks and exams were due, I felt so confident after I finally finished them. In the next semester we will have the chance to work as a group, and I expect to exchange ideas with my classmates - it will be a useful way of building my English language skills as well as developing my academic thinking. 

What have the lectures and seminars been like? And the teaching staff?
All the ITS lecturers and staff are friendly and willing to help solve any problems we have. They offer plentiful resources and information related to our studies and the interactions between students and lecturers are good. The external seminar speakers are also helpful in providing us with opportunities to learn about applications of transport in the real world.

What do you aim to do once you’ve completed your Masters? 
I would like to join a transport consultancy after graduation since I believe this is the most direct way to apply what I have learned, in dealing with various practical transport issues.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about studying for a Masters at ITS? 
ITS won’t be a disappointment for anyone interested in studying transport.  ITS is suitable for those who have their own views on transport issues and are willing to discuss these with others -  the principles covered in the lectures are strongly linked to the real world.



ITS Programme:


Bachelors degree & University:

ITS dissertation topic:


John Buckell


Transport Economics 

Self funding

Transport Management, Aston University

The construction and exploration of a transport industry share index

Dr Andrew Smith (ITS) 
Prof. Kevin Keasey(Business School)

Why did you decide to study at ITS?  
I wanted to continue my studies and focus on economics, and Leeds seemed to be the obvious place; the university has a great reputation, the school is exemplary and the course was befitting to my interests. I was also keen on Leeds knowing it’s a young, vibrant city with a large student body.

What is it about transport that interests and motivates you to study it?
Transport’s quite unique. There are idiosyncratic quirks to it and I find finding practical solutions to them both interesting and challenging in equal measure. I like transport’s proximity to real world issues for both the short and long term. There’s a great balance between theory and application, especially on the economics side of things. I also like that it’s an industry set to be turned on its head within my lifetime. It means there’s exciting scope for progression in the field, and ITS is on the vanguard of that.

How would you describe the experience of being an ITS Masters student?  
It’s outstanding.  All facets of student life at ITS, from learning to the social aspect, have exceeded my expectations. You’re encouraged to reach your potential, and supported every step of the way. I’m genuinely happy being here, and I don’t think I’m the only person who feels that way. I like the mix of academic disciplines. I like that I have lectures with an engineer, a mathematician and an economist. It’s interesting having a range of different perspectives for a given topic.

What have you enjoyed most about the first semester and what are you looking forward to in the next semester? 
Academically, I enjoyed the economics modules. Socially, I enjoyed the football. I’m the course rep for transport economics and the school rep for ITS, which I enjoyed as I could really nestle into student issues and be part of the university’s organisational process. Next term, I’m mostly looking forward to getting my teeth into my dissertation, and of course, winning the 5-a-side league!

What have the lectures and seminars been like? And the teaching staff?
Informative, though provoking, interesting, engaging, take your pick! There’s a great diversity of topics in the seminars, delivered by experts and industry leaders, all of which are germane to the course content. The lecturers are knowledgeable, approachable and infinitely helpful. The support staff deserve an honourable mention, too. I had a few problems with my maths when I arrived, and I was guided to help so that I could dust out the cobwebs. The staff are also really open to ideas. When I proposed my own dissertation topic, I was steered to people in the business school who were keen to be involved. 
What’s it been like living and socialising in Leeds?
I’ve really warmed to Leeds since moving here. Like any city there’s a wealth of things to busy yourself with. What’s special here is the volume of students. Everywhere you are is bustling with young people like yourself, be it a Friday night or Tuesday morning. It’s easy to meet people and indulge in whatever it is you enjoy.

What do you aim to do once you’ve completed your Masters?
Honestly, I haven’t a clue. I’m toying with the idea of a PhD, but I’m also applying for graduate jobs, I suppose I’ll find out in due course. The good thing about being here is I’ve the option to do all these things if I choose to.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about studying for a Masters at ITS?
I’d encourage anybody thinking of coming here to do just that. As long as you’re prepared to put the work in, the rewards are there for you and it’s a great place to be.

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