Impact evaluation (Advanced): Understanding options, choices and practice


One day, Advanced level. Sheffield. Price for SRA members: £202.50

*Prices for 2019 courses have increased to £270 per day; SRA members receive a 25% discount, paying £202.50*

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For government and its agencies, the European Commission, the Lottery, and charitable Trusts, evaluation has become a cornerstone in the use, accountability and effectiveness of new policies, programmes and initiatives. Different theories, options and alternative methods have proliferated, and those setting up and running programmes across the public and voluntary sector, and outside, find themselves confronted with difficult choices and rising expectations among policy makers and funding bodies for measuring programme effects, effectiveness and impacts.  Pressure on the public purse has intensified those demands - with new calls among policy makers and others for sophisticated evaluation strategies to show ‘what works’ and to demonstrate added-value and cost-effectiveness.


By the end of the workshop, participants will:

  • ● Be aware of a range of options and methodological choices which can be applied to different impact evaluation circumstances and needs.
  • ● Understand theory-based evaluation and how this is being used in publicly-funded programmes and initiatives.
  • ● Recognise the different method of impact evaluation, and their uses, including for piloting, scaling-up and roll-out of programmes and initiatives.
  • ● Understand the principal and use of proportionality in the design of multi-mode impact evaluation.
  • ● Appreciate the how ‘counterfactual’ evidence can be built into each of experimental, quasi experimental, non-experimental and alternative impact evaluation methods


The course will cover:

  • ● The nature of advanced evaluation, how it relates to programme theories and its practical use?
  • ● An introduction to different types of ‘advanced’ evaluation – and the principal of proportionality in design.
  • ● The governments Magenta-Combined and other practical guidance – and it usefulness for meeting evaluation needs of publicly-funded programmes or initiatives.
  • ● The cost-effective use, and combination, of sophisticated evaluation designs - what methods are best suited to what needs and in what circumstances.
  • ● Experimental, quasi experimental, and non-experimental methods in understanding attribution and ‘new’ alternative ways of looking at qualitatively assessing causality.
  • ● Stakeholder and beneficiary engagement; being aware of and addressing ethical issues in selecting participants.

Who will benefit?

This one-day course is aimed at those with some experience of evaluation who may be working in a wide range of situations procuring and specifying programme evaluations, or designing and conducting complex evaluations.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of the course, participants with a basic understanding of evaluation will have been introduced to the contrasts between experimental and ‘theory-based’ impact evaluation and will understand a range of practical options available to them for both formative and summative 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 to impact evaluation, as well as practical pitfalls, pro’s and con’s, and how multi-goal evaluation can be made more cost-effective.

Course tutor:

Professor David Parsons is a long-standing evaluation specialist, advisor and author of a number of programme guidebooks on evaluation strategies.   In academic, contract research and in practice within government and agencies, he has led over 40 independent evaluations of policy and programmes across six government departments, various agencies, the devolved administrations, European Commission and others.  He has specialised in proportionate methods of impact evaluation, for both public policy and evidence-based practice, and in this role has advised a number of public bodies on evaluation methods.  He has most recently concluded a trial of new methods of impact evaluation for the Economic and Social Research Council.

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

Price for SRA members: £202.50. Use the discount code emailed to you.

VAT is not charged for SRA courses.

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

Want to book 2+ people at the same time? We need to adjust the system to allow this, so email admin[at]the-sra[dot]

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 17 June 2019 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.