Advanced evaluation: Options and choices in impact evaluation


One day, Advanced level. Cardiff. Price for SRA members: £195

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For government and its agencies, the European Commission, the Lottery, and charitable Trusts, evaluation of impact has become a cornerstone in understanding the accountability and effectiveness of programmes and initiatives. In an environment where resources for such activity are often scarce, those tasked with designing and managing evaluations find themselves confronted with confusing choices about ‘the right’ approaches and techniques. This course helps to demystify impact evaluation and help those commissioning and conducting evaluation make effective choices.


By the end of the workshop, participants will:

  • ● Be aware of new and recent thinking in impact evaluation.
  • ● Understand the concept of ‘causality’ and practical approaches to measurement.
  • ● Understand theory-based evaluation and the use of ‘logic chains’
  • ● Understand empirical and non-empirical approaches to impact evaluation.
  • ● Recognise different uses for piloting, scaling-up and roll-out of programmes.
  • ● Recognise different options for practical and credible impact evaluation techniques.


The course will cover:

  • ● The expectations of public bodies and others for the conduct of impact evaluation.
  • ● An introduction to contrasting types of impact evaluation and their application.
  • ● Setting and unpicking impact measurement needs and expectations of programmes.
  • ● Underpinning methods, their uses and combinations and applying the principal of proportionality in design to ensure cost-effectiveness of approach.
  • ● Available guidance including the governments Magenta-Combined guidance and the DAC (OECD quality) standards, and what these mean for different evaluation circumstances.
  • ● Use and utility of experimental and quasi-experimental methods to provide for a ‘counterfactual’ analysis, and alternative ways of looking at causality.
  • ● Addressing ethical issues in choosing impact evaluation approaches and techniques.

Who will benefit?

This one-day course is aimed at those who have attended the SRA Introductory Course to Evaluation, or those with some experience of evaluation methods looking to extend their knowledge. Participants may be procuring or specifying evaluations, or designing and conducting stand-alone or embedded impact evaluations.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants with a basic understanding of evaluation will have been introduced to current thinking about what constitutes effective ‘theory-based’ evaluation and will understand options available to them for both formative and summative approaches to impact evaluation. They will better understand national guidance to make informed decisions about how to effectively specify, combine and use sophisticated quantitative and qualitative impact evaluation methods, They will gain a practical insight into the use of ‘empirical’ and ‘non-empirical’ approaches, practical pitfalls, pro’s and con’s, and how multi-goal evaluation can be made more cost-effective.

Course tutors

Professor David Parsons is a long-standing evaluation specialist, author of guidebooks on programme evaluation strategies, and has led nearly 30 independent evaluations of policy and programmes in the last six years across government, devolved administrations, and for the European Commission and others. He has recently concluded a trial of new methods of impact evaluation for the Economic and Social Research Council. and/or

Dr David Devins has worked in a range of private sector and public sector organisations conducting research and evaluation to inform individual, organisational and partnership development. He is both an applied and academic evaluator having conducted evaluations covering a range of themes exploring the impact of public art, publicly funded training interventions and human resource development. He has written several journal articles and presented papers at many national and international conferences

mrs cpd logo This course contributes 6 hours to the MRS CPD programme

Price for SRA members: £195.  Use the discount code emailed to you.

If you are unsure of your code, or haven't received one, please contact us.

Registration on the day is from 9.00 - 9.30 am

Cancellation policy: Full refund if cancelled 21 days or more from the course date.  No refund if cancelled 20 days or fewer from the course date.

Registrations for this course will not be accepted after 5 December 2017 at 12 noon.

We are sorry but registration for this event is now closed.

Please contact us if you would like to know if spaces are still available.