Department of Political Science


Dr Manu Savani

Manu Savani

Dr Manu Savani

Teaching Fellow in PPEA, Teaching Fellow in Welfare Politics & Teaching Fellow in Public Policy


Manu Savani was awarded her PhD in May 2017 from UCL’s Department of Political Science. Manu's academic background includes a First from the University of Oxford in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (St Anne’s College), and an MSc in Development Economics (Magdalen College).


Manu’s PhD thesis applied Thaler and Shefrin’s (1981) Planner-Doer dual-self model to health behaviours. She designed and implemented two mixed methods field experiments that evaluated the impact of commitment devices on health behavior around obesity, working in partnership with Camden Council and the private sector. The research tested new ways to measure concepts such as sophistication and myopia, critically assessed the planner-doer model using quantitative and qualitative data, and raised new policy recommendations for how commitment strategies can be designed into public health programmes.

Manu’s wider research interests include the effects of present bias on individual and collective behaviours, and the effectiveness of policy interventions for choices we make that require a trade-off between benefits now or later.


Manu will be teaching Public Policy Economics and Analysis & Welfare Politics from Sept 2018 & Public Policy from January 2019. Prior to that, Manu has taught Qualitative Methods Public Policy Economics and Analysis at SPP, and supervised Masters dissertations in a variety of subjects including health policy, international institutions and development. Manu was a Brilliant Club tutor at Lampton High School in 2014, delivering a six-week syllabus on nudge theory she designed for sixth formers.

Professional Background

Manu was an Economic Adviser at the Department for International Development over 2003-2012, and held roles covering a range of countries (Afghanistan, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia) and policy issues (pro-poor growth, HIV and AIDS, conflict and development, and value for money in aid spending). More recently, Manu was a Global Impact Evaluation Adviser for Oxfam GB, managing evaluations for the Gendered Enterprise and Markets project in Zambia and Bangladesh using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods in the field.


  • Savani, M. M. (2018). The Effects of a Commitment Device on Health Outcomes: Reputational Commitment and Weight Loss in an Online Experiment. International Journal of Applied Behavioral Economics (IJABE), 7(4), 1-20. doi:10.4018/IJABE.2018100101


  • 'Best Dissertation’ Departmental Prize (2017) 
  • Green UCL Award (2015)
  • UCL Grand Challenges Research Prize in Human Wellbeing (2013)
  • 3-year Studentship from UCL Department of Political Science (2012)

Conference Presentations