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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Evaluation Research Methods (PGSP11373)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWhen considering a wide range of policies and interventions that are intended to create positive change in society, a key question for researchers, policy makers, practitioners and others is: 'Does it work?' However, establishing the way such policies and interventions 'work', and the impact that they have, can be complex. This course is intended to help people develop a critical understanding of both the theoretical and practical aspects of evaluation research. Students will learn about key concepts and approaches to evaluation, including experimental and qualitative approaches, logic modelling and cost-benefit analysis. The course also engages with the context of evaluation, including political influences, as well as ethical issues, practical issues, knowledge exchange and the dissemination of evaluation findings. By the end of the course, students should be able to critically assess the quality of existing examples of evaluation research as well as plan their own evaluation.
Course description Theory and key concepts for evaluation
Evaluation in context
Experimental methods in evaluation
Realistic evaluation
Qualitative evaluation methods
Cost-benefit analysis
Ethics and evaluation
Practicalities of evaluation
Dissemination and knowledge exchange
Consolidation of learning
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Students must complete the set task and engage in the online task for each week of the course (this amounts to 9 tasks in total). This will be a requirement for those taking the course without credit in order to receive recognition for completing the course. Tasks are closely associated with the topics for each week and will include, for example, identifying a published piece of evaluation research and critically discussing it in light of the readings and teaching for that week. In order to attain the mark for each week, the student's contribution must demonstrate engagement with the set readings and resources for that week and show a satisfactory level of consideration with respect to the task. Each satisfactorily completed task is worth 1% of the final mark. An additional 1% will be given for participation in the final workshop.

Students should choose one of two assignments to work on. For those students undertaking a placement as part of their programmes, the second might be a better option. Maximum submission word length (not including references): 3,500 words.

1) A critique of published evaluation
Students will select a published evaluation report and write a critical essay in response to the report, describing the study and critically evaluating its strengths and weaknesses as a piece of evaluation.


2) An evaluation plan
Students will plan an evaluation of a particular intervention, service or policy (this could be an evaluation which they actually intend to undertake), outlining their approach, methods of data collection and analysis, ethics, potential resource constraints and knowledge exchange strategies. The plan should be properly referenced throughout in the usual way.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the theoretical basis, key concepts and different types of evaluation research
  2. Have a critical awareness of key approaches and methods for evaluation research
  3. Critically assess evaluation research in order to identity its strengths, weaknesses and relative merits
  4. Understand the processes and issues related to undertaking evaluation research
  5. Plan the evaluation of an intervention or service, taking into account relevant contextual and practical issues
Reading List
Bamberger, M. Rugh, J. & Mabry, L. (2012). Real world evaluation (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Pawson, R. & Tilley, N. (1997). Realistic evaluation. London: Sage.
Abma, T.A. and Widdershoven, G.A.M. (2011) 'Evaluation as relationally responsible practice', in Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Cellini, S. R. & Kee, J. E. (2010). Cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis. J. S. Wholey, H. P. Hatry & K. E. Newcomer (Eds.), Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation (3rd Ed.) (pp. 493-530). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gallagher, M., Wilkinson, H., and Smith, M (2012) 'A collaborative approach to research and impact: lessons from a knowledge exchange project involving academics and social work practitioners, Evidence and Policy, 8 (3), 311 - 328.
Nutley, S. M., Walter, I., & Davies, H. T. O. (2007). Using evidence: How research can inform public services. Bristol: The Policy Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will gain a range of skills relating to the critical assessment of evaluation research and the practical application of evaluation. These skills will be relevant to a range of work settings including the design, management, delivery and evaluation of various policies and interventions.
Additional Class Delivery Information This course does not accept auditing students
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Mark Smith
Tel: (0131 6)50 4637
Course secretaryMr Andrew Macaulay
Tel: (0131 6)51 5067
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