Institute for Global Health


Evaluating Interventions

This module will cover the main theories and methods of evaluating health and development interventions.  The simple question of whether an intervention 'works' or not will be expanded to: for whom does it work? when and where? how? and why? The complexity of real world intervention implementation will be explored.

Building on core concepts of scientific research, study design and critical appraisal taught in the core modules, students will learn how to choose appropriate methods of monitoring and evaluation.  Students will gain an understanding of cutting-edge methods in evaluation science including: individual and community-based trials; process evaluations including assessment of implementation strength and context-specific mechanisms; systematic reviews and meta-analysis; and realist evaluation and realist synthesis.

Module Code: GLBH0027


UCL Credits: 15

Module Organisers: Dr Tim Colbourn Please direct queries to the course administration team in the first instance igh.adminpg@ucl.ac.uk

Who can study this course?


MSc/PG Dip Global Health and Development students, other UCL MSc/PG Dip students, Taster course students, Short course students

Admission Requirements


MSc and PG Dip students: Open to all UCL MSc/PG Dip Global Health and Development, and to any UCL MSc/PG Dip students.

Taster students: UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant/allied subject awarded with a 1st or upper 2nd class Honours or an equivalent qualification.  Two academic or professional reference letters.

Short course students: Professional work experience in a relevant area and/or UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant/allied subject awarded with a 1st or 2nd class Honours or an equivalent qualification.

In addition to the above, all students must demonstrate a GOOD standard of English Proficiency.

Course length3 weeks 
Course dates11 - 29 May 2020
Days and timesMondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 09.30 to 12.30 and 14.00 to 16.30.



Teaching and learning methods


Taught lectures will be combined with seminars and practical sessions working through examples of previous large-scale evaluations including those undertaken by the module tutor and colleagues at the Institute for Global Health.  Students will then undertake a short group project to design an evaluation of a pre-specified hypothetical intervention, each group submitting a 5000 word expression of interest competing in the first round for a hypothetical contract. Students will also each individually write a critique of a published evaluation. These two pieces of work will form the assessment for the module.  This module is designed to link well with other practical modules such as Research in Action: the Quantitative Approach, Economic Evaluation in Healthcare, and Health management; planning and programme design, and is timetabled to enable students to take all four of these optional modules.

Assessment and assessment dates

Group project (3 students) 5000 words (40%) due by 09:00am on 1 June 2020

Individual critique 1500 words (60%) due 09:00am on 8 June 2020

Selected Reading List


Pawson R. (2013) The Science of Evaluation: A Realist Manifesto. London: Sage.

Prost A, Colbourn T, Seward N, Azad K, Coomarasamy A, Copas A, Houweling T, Fottrell E, Kuddus A, Lewycka S, et al. (2013) 'Women's groups practising participatory learning and action to improve maternal and newborn health in resource-limited settings: systematic review and meta-analysis' Lancet, vol. 381, pp. 1736-1746.

Victora CG, Black RE, Boerma JT, et al. (2011) 'Measuring impact in the Millennium Development Goal era and beyond: a new approach to large-scale effectiveness evaluations', Lancet, vol 377, pp. 85-95.


Grant A, Treweek A, Dreischulte T. (2013) 'Process evaluations of cluster-randomised controlled trials of complex interventions: a proposed framework for design and reporting', Trials vol 14:15

Colbourn T, Nambiar B, Costello A. (2013) 'MaiKhanda - Final evaluation report. The impact of quality improvement at health facilities and community mobilisation by women's groups on birth outcomes: an effectiveness study in three districts of Malawi' . pp. 1-364. London: The Health Foundation.