UCL Institute of Clinical Trials and Methodology


Using simulation studies to evaluate statistical methods

Next Course: 21st-24th June 2022

Timings: 1400-1700 BST

Location: MS Teams


Simulation studies are an important tool for statistical research. They help us understand the properties of statistical methods and compare different methods. To perform a meaningful simulation study, careful thought needs to be put into the planning, coding, analysis and interpretation. Participants are expected to attend all sessions but course materials will be available in case of unexpected missed sessions.


Dr Tim Morris, MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, London
Prof Ian White, MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, London
Dr Tra My Pham, MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, London

Course Aims

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Explain the rationale for simulation
  • Understand the importance of careful planning
  • Have the tools to code and debug simple simulation studies in Stata or R
  • Know how to analyse simulation studies producing estimates of uncertainty
  • Present methods and results for publication

Target audience

  • Methodological or applied statisticians who need to evaluate the statistical properties of one or more methods
  • PhD students using simulation studies
  • Readers of methodology articles which evaluate methods by simulation

Participants should be familiar with Stata or R and know, for example, how to generate data, run a regression command and produce simple graphs.


Practicals can now be undertaken in Stata or R; solutions will be made available for both. Lectures will tend to be about the concepts but where necessary will include specific Stata or R code. Users of other software (e.g. SAS) are welcome but will need to be confident of their proficiency (since the lecturers are not). Attendees will need to bring a laptop with either Stata (version 12 or higher), a recent version of R or a software package of the attendee's choice installed. Please get in touch with the course organisers if none of these is possible.


Examples will be taken from the lecturers’ experiences, primarily relating to medical statistics. Principles are the same for simulation studies in other applied areas but the examples may be less relevant.


  • Free for Staff & Students from Units within ICTM (CRUK-CTC, CCTU, MRC CTU at UCL and PRIMENT), although the number of places for this group is limited
  • UCL staff: £155
  • Students (UCL & External): £105
  • External to UCL: £205
  • Low and middle income countries: £50 (first five places free, please email ictm.education@ucl.ac.uk requesting exemption)

The course is likely to be oversubscribed and so if you're interested in attending then we encourage you to apply early.