HP4D5E      Half Unit
Research Design for Evaluating Health Programs and Policies

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Elisabetta De Cao COW 3.06


This course is available on the Executive MSc in Health Economics, Outcomes and Management in Cardiovascular Sciences and Executive MSc in Health Economics, Policy and Management. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The objective of this course is to teach students how to design and critically appraise research studies evaluating policies, programmes, and interventions. 

This course will provide an overview of the principles and models of evaluation, and the role of theories, concepts, and hypotheses. In terms of research design, it will cover study design choices in light of bias, validity and other design trade-offs. The core of the course will focus on experimental and quasi-experimental designs for evaluating health interventions, programmes and policies aimed at achieving high quality care, reducing costs, and improving health outcomes. Data and measurement considerations for quantitative studies will be discussed alongside briefly touching upon qualitative methods, mixed-methods and triangulation for interpreting findings and taking a critical approach to the results of evaluation. The course will conclude with practical and ethical issues when undertaking evaluation studies.


This course will be delivered as a combination lectures and seminars, totalling a minimum of 20 hours. As well as access to lectures, students will work in small groups to complete group exercises set by the course lead during seminars. 

Formative coursework

The formative assessment consists of 2-page outline for the summative project. The 2-page outline must summarise the main points of an essay that i) critiques a published study and ii) outlines a research project that could address the identified limitations of the study. Course participants work in groups during the taught course to discuss the published study and prepare the proposal. They will have an opportunity to discuss the project with the course leader and gain feedback and guidance about their project throughout the course.


Indicative reading

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

Gertler, Paul J., Sebastian Martinez, Patrick Premand, Laura B. Rawlings, and Christel M. J. Vermeersch. (2016) Impact Evaluation in Practice, second edition. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank. doi:10.1596/978-1- 4648-0779-4. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO.

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

HM Treasury. 2011. The Magenta Book. Guidance for evaluation.


Essay (100%, 2500 words).

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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: Health Policy

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills