Randomised Controlled Trials

MA Social Research module

Module Outline

This introduction to the design, conduct and reporting of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in the social sciences will introduce the reasons why it is necessary to use RCTs to answer efficacy and effectiveness questions in the social sciences, and discuss allocation methods and the various designs of RCTs suitable for addressing different kinds of research questions. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the short course students should be able to demonstrate:

  • A systematic understanding of the design of a variety of randomised controlled trials, including understanding of the importance of factors critical to the design of RCTs, e.g. samples, measurement, internal and external validity, reliability, ethics, practical considerations and logistics;
  • An awareness of problems involved in the design of RCTs;
  • A comprehensive understanding of techniques involved in the application of RCT design, for example random allocation, sample size calculation, statistical analysis;
  • An ability to apply design techniques in experimental research to a range of research questions in the social sciences in an original way;
  • An ability to critically evaluate published randomised controlled trials;
  • An ability to evaluate a variety of designs and methods in a critical way;
  • An ability to propose new hypotheses amenable to a variety of RCT designs.

Course Assessment

3,000-word protocol (or plan) for a randomised controlled trial in a topic area in the social sciences.  The protocol will present the design, methodology and methods for a RCT in your chosen topic area, and will include experimental design features and methods for collecting and analysing experimental data discussed in the module.