MY405      Half Unit
Research Design for Policy and Programme Evaluation

This information is for the 2020/21 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.

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. It covers the powerful research designs used in applied fields including international development, health, and public policy, addressing both widely-used and more innovative designs. 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, realist 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 synthesis. Examples from the fields of health, international development and public policy will be used throughout the lectures and seminars.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching may be delivered through a combination of virtual classes and flipped-lectures delivered as short online videos.

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. 


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

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Methodology

Total students 2019/20: 33

Average class size 2019/20: 16

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

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