MY405      Half Unit
Research Methods for Evaluation in Health, Development and Public Policy

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Flora Cornish COL.8.09


This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Health Policy and Health Economics, MSc in Applied Social Data Science, MSc in Global Health Policy, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), MSc in Marketing and MSc in Social Research Methods. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


There are no prerequisites but some familiarity with qualitative research methods is expected. Please contact the course convenor if unsure.  

Course content

This course aims to equip students with the methodological knowledge and research skills to be able to design and critically appraise evaluation research. In the context of the rise of evidence-based policy, the course is designed to extend students’ abilities to use evaluative information carefully and critically. The course takes a mixed methods approach. It covers the major quantitative designs, including randomized experiments and observational (i.e. non-randomized) research designs such as selection on observables, difference-in-differences, and the regression discontinuity design. It covers qualitative and participatory research designs and their contribution to formative research, process evaluation, process evaluations, interpreting outcomes, and assessing transferability to other settings. As well as the major design issues, the course addresses practical and ethical issues of evaluation research, how to write a study protocol, and how to draw lessons from a body of evidence through reviewing and synthesising evidence. Examples from the fields of health, international development and public policy will be used throughout the lectures and seminars. 


15 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the LT.

10 x 1.5 hour lectures 

9 x 1.5 hour seminars 

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Students write a critical review (1,500 words) of a published evaluation report. 

Indicative reading

Angrist, J. D. and Pischke, J-S. (2014) Mastering Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect. Princeton University Press

Bell, S. & Aggleton, P. (2016). Monitoring and Evaluation in Health and Social Development: Interpretive and Ethnographic perspectives. London: Routledge

Cartwright, N. & Hardie, J. (2012). Evidence-Based Policy: A practical guide to doing it better. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 

Glennerster, R. and Takaarasha, K. (2013) Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide, Princeton University Press.

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. (4th Edition). London: Sage. 


Coursework (50%, 2500 words) in the LT.
Essay (50%, 2500 words) in the ST.

50% group-based coursework. Students work in groups to develop an evaluation design, and write it up individually (2,500 words). 

50% essay. Students are given a choice of essay questions, in response to which they write one essay (2,500 words). 

Key facts

Department: Methodology

Total students 2018/19: 25

Average class size 2018/19: 12

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills