HP428      Half Unit
Randomised evaluations of health programmes: from design to implementation

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Mylene Lagarde COW 3.02


This course is available on the MSc in Global Health Policy, MSc in Health Policy, Planning and Financing, MSc in International Health Policy and MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Randomized trials have long been used in the clinical world to test the efficacy of medical treatments. Recently, social scientists have started using the same approach, using random assignment to allocate resources or implement a policy intervention differently to different groups, in order to determine the causal effects of the policy of interest. The popularity of randomized evaluations has grown especially, but not exclusively, among researchers and policymakers in low- and middle-income settings.

Conducting a successful randomized evaluation involves many inter-related steps and a good understanding of a few statistical concepts. Randomized evaluations also usually require to design and organise the data collection of relevant and useful information, which involves a number of critical steps to avoid pitfalls.  It is therefore essential to understand these different steps to design and implement randomised evaluations adequately, or to be able to critically analyse them.

This course proposes a hands-on and intuitive approach to designing and conducting a randomised evaluation. In the first half of the course, we will discuss reasons for undertaking randomised evaluations; how to design the randomise experiment to ensure it answers the question(s) of interest (including issues of statistical power and sample size calculation); how to deal with threats to randomisation. In the second half of the course, we will discuss practical issues raised by primary data collection, including how to best measure outcomes of interest; how to design good tools and how to conduct and manage fieldwork.

Seminars will be designed to encourage students to critically engage with the topics and apply the technical skills taught. Each seminar will be closely aligned with the lecture content to give students the opportunity to apply the new knowledge. Case studies will be chosen from various cultural backgrounds, to allow the presentation of a diverse range of settings and issues.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

A draft protocol. Students will be asked to submit a short 1,500 word draft protocol by week 8. While some aspects of their work may still be work in progress (e.g. using bullet points), students will be expected to write up the first half of their protocol in a more detailed way. The outlines will be graded and feedback given to students. This allows students to get valuable experience of writing at MSc level at LSE, and they will also understand more specifically the expectations of the summative assessment. Students will be able to use this feedback in their writing of the summative work.

Indicative reading

  • Glennerster, R., & Takavarasha, K. (2013). Running Randomized Evaluations (STU - Student edition ed.): Princeton University Press.
  • Gerber, A. S., & Green, D. P. (2012). Field Experiments: Design, Analysis and Interpretation. New York, NY: Norton.
  • Ustun, T. B., Chatterji, S., Mechbal, A., & Murray, C. J. L. (2005). Quality assurance in surveys: standards, guidelines and procedures. In W. H. S. W. Collaborators (Ed.), Household Sample Surveys in Developing and Transition Countries.
  • Dupas, P., & Miguel, E. (2017). Impacts and Determinants of Health Levels in Low-Income Countries. In E. Duflo & A. Banerjee (Eds.), Handbook of Field Experiments: North Holland.


Research proposal (100%) in the LT.

The objective of the research protocol (4,000 words max) will be to plan the randomised evaluation of a particular health programme. Students will be asked to pick one programme from a proposed list. They will also be given the option to choose their own intervention (pending agreement by their seminar leader).

Key facts

Department: Health Policy

Total students 2017/18: Unavailable

Average class size 2017/18: Unavailable

Controlled access 2017/18: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills