Develop skills to understand and conduct CBAs for social projects

This 3-day course equips participants with an understanding and working knowledge of the theoretical and technical (Excel) skills required to apply Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) to the appraisal and evaluation of projects, policies, programs and regulations with mainly social and other non-monetary (e.g., environmental) costs and benefits.

The course is designed for professionals who need to engage with CBAs to aid the design and evaluation of public and private sector projects and programs, either as policy analysts or as practitioners needing to enhance their technical skills in CBA.

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

The course covers the underlying principles and theoretical concepts of CBA, the technical methods and details of calculating the various measures of project profitability (IRR, BCR, NPV), including hands-on exercises to practice the basic skills required to perform CBAs using Excel. On the final day we work through a detailed, real world case study and the reporting of the results of the CBA.

What distinguishes the approach followed in this course from others is the adoption of a multi-account CBA framework. This allows the analyst to evaluate and report on the net benefits of a project/program/policy from the perspective of each individual stakeholder, in addition to an aggregate ‘all of society’ perspective, highlighting the distribution of costs and benefits among the various stakeholders. 

The course also examines the principles and methods underlying non-market valuation methods and techniques for dollar valuation of non-monetary costs and benefits. This includes the potential uses and limitations of other methodologies including Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis, and, accessibility of the various on-line resources on non-market valuation.

Who is this course for: Social policy, practitioners 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. 

Prerequisites: Basic Microsoft Excel proficiency is advisable.

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)
  • Social Return on Investment (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 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 and 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

Groups: Course content can be customised and could incorporate your own research questions and/or data and can be held at your own location or at ISSR. (Minimum of 10 participants)

Custom courses: All MFSAS courses can be customised using your own data sets and can be delivered at your premises. (Minimum of 10 participants)

$1,830 - Standard rate
$1,519 - Early Bird (book and pay one month out)
$1,464 - Groups (3 or more, price per person)
​$1,281 - UQ Students
$1,373 - Students (other than UQ)
*(Fees include GST and course materials)

Register now
Follow the links below to register for your preferred date:
Monday, 12 June - Wednesday, 14 June 2023
Monday, 30 October - Wednesday, 1 November 2023

Courses will only proceed if there is a minimum of 10 participants.

Custom and Group enquiries


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.


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The course gave me a sufficient knowledge of Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) to assess CBA produced by others.  It also gave me knowledge to undertake CBA on existing data, and understanding of requirements of in-depth CBA. This course will benefit me in undertaking my current employment and also future work. Policy analysts and advisers should attend this course. 
Ian Jeffreys, RACQ