Develop skills to understand and conduct CBAs for social projects

This course is designed for professionals who need to engage with CBAs to aid the design and evaluation of public programs and policies, and need hands-on skills to conduct CBAs.

Man looking up at chalk drawn scales on the wall behind him

This course equips participants with an understanding and working knowledge of the skills required to apply Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) to the appraisal and evaluation of projects, policies, programs and regulations with mainly social costs and benefits. The workshop will cover the potential uses and limitations of cost-benefit analysis (CBA), introduce Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis, examine the principles and methods underlying CBA and non-market valuation, and provide hands-on exercises to practice the basic skills required to perform CBAs using Excel.

This course does NOT focus on non-economic project evaluation, but rather on the application of financial and economic principles, and analysis to the evaluation of projects, policies etc. with a social focus.

Topics covered

  • What is CBA? The role in public sector decision-making
  • Economic principles and criteria underlying CBA as distinct from financial analysis
  • Introducing concepts of discounting, Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) analysis, Net Present Value (NPV), Benefit/Cost Ratio (BCR) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR)
  • SROI as a variant of CBA for projects with intangible costs and benefits
  • Using Sensitivity Analysis to allow for uncertainty
  • Step-by-step demonstration of CBA applied to a social project for project appraisal
  • Applying decision rules in CBA using Excel
  • Identifying and valuing costs and benefits in CBA
  • Methods and techniques of non-market valuation and data sources for including intangibles in CBA
  • Assessment of Social Return on Investment (SROI) Analysis and an overview of the Queensland Government’s framework for Social Impact Analysis (SIA)
  • A case study using CBA

Learning objectives

  • Understand the rationale for CBAs, key concepts and economics principles underlying them, and how they can assist the policy & project decision-making process
  • Learn basic processes and methods for undertaking CBA
  • Discuss the need for the valuation and incorporation of non-monetary costs and benefits, including those of a social and/or intangible nature
  • Appreciate SROI as a method to appraise projects with mainly intangible costs and benefits, and Social Impact Analysis (SIA) as prescribed by Queensland Government
  • Understand the limitations of CBAs, including appropriate uses and caveats in interpretation of results
  • Have practical experience using basic CBA processes and methods
  • Demonstrate a basic proficiency in the use of spreadsheet-based CBAs
  • Understand how to apply Sensitivity Analysis and Threshold Analysis techniques using Excel

Who is this course for

Social policy, practice and research professionals, including those from government, NGO and research organisations, who want to develop their understanding and working knowledge of CBA techniques and its application in the decision-making process, including its role in Regulatory Impact Statements. It assumes little or no prior knowledge of economics or CBA. Basic Microsoft Excel proficiency is advisable.

Course dates

Wednesday, 24 November - Friday, 26 November 2021, 9am - 5pm

For Custom and Group courses (10 participants or more) - Email us to discuss

Online delivery fees (incl. GST)

$1,658 - Early Bird discount (book and pay one month out)
$2,025 - After Early Bird discount expires
$1,596 - Groups (3 or more, price per person)
$1,380 - UQ Students
$1,489 - Students (other than UQ)
(Fees include course materials)

By registering to attend this course you are agreeing to our terms and conditions.


Associate Professor Richard BrownAssociate Professor Richard Brown is a specialist in applied cost-benefit analysis, non-market valuation methodologies, and the economics of international migration. He has extensive advisory experience as an applied project and policy analyst for public and private sector organisations in Australia and internationally, including: the Queensland Office of the Public Guardian on the roll-out of the NDIS; DFAT; CSIRO; various Queensland State Government Departments; NSW Department of Industries; Queensland Competition Authority; Brisbane City Council; and private consultancy companies including KPMG and NineSquared.

Richard has extensive experience designing and conducting training courses and workshops in cost-benefit analysis for governmental and non-governmental agencies, domestically and internationally including government agencies and NGOs in Bahrain, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore & South Africa. Recent training and advisory work also covers agencies engaged specifically in the social sectors, including the Department of Family and Social Services (Qld), Singapore and MiET Africa, an NGO engaged in youth education and health programs in Southern Africa. 

Richard is an Associate Professor in Economics in the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Queensland. He has held positions at the Institute of Social Studies, the Netherlands, University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, and visiting positions at the University of Khartoum, Sudan; The Hubert H. Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota; Faculty of Economics and King’s College, Cambridge; the Department of Economics and St Antony’s College, Oxford; Department of Economics, University of Vienna.

UQ's Institute for Social Science Research, Cycad Building, 80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly, Brisbane, Australia