'Real-World' Evaluation: Ten Key Principles for Evaluating Complex Health and Social Interventions

2 day course: Tuesday, 2nd - Wednesday, 3rd February 2021

The course is primarily focused on evaluations in complex ‘real-world’ situations, in which the evaluator has limited control over the intervention or context, and traditional experimental methods are inappropriate.

It aims to introduce ten key principles for evaluation of complex interventions, and how to apply these in health and social care settings.

During the 2-day short course, time will be provided for structured, self-directed study to reflect on experiences and to begin to design an evaluation proposal in line with the nature of your specific needs.

Who will benefit from the course?

Anyone with an interest in evaluation especially those who feel that there is a need to address issues of complexity which have been overlooked in traditional methods of evaluation:

  • Academics and researchers
  • Health and social care practitioners and managers
  • Public health practitioners (NHS, Local Authority & not-for-profit organisations)
  • Health and social care commissioners
  • Postgraduate students
  • Evaluators with experience of traditional experimental evaluation methodologies who want to develop an understanding of new ways of evaluation
  • Implementers of technological innovations (including private sector)
  • Trial managers

Expected outcomes

By the end of this programme participants will be able to:

  • recognise differences between simple, complicated and complex interventions
  • identify and prioritise areas of complexity
  • describe ten key principles for evaluating complex interventions
  • discuss the strengths and limitations of various approaches for evaluating complex interventions
  • plan the application of methods for theory-driven evaluation
  • develop and test programme theories
  • appreciate the key issues for data analysis and presentation of findings.

Course content

The course will mix theory and practice, and give broad perspectives drawing on the participants’ own work and evaluation needs. Participants will be introduced to complex situations, complex interventions and innovative evaluation methodologies (eg theory-driven approaches, Realist Evaluation and Developmental Evaluation).


This course was developed with the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for South Yorkshire (NIHR CLAHRC SY).

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors, are not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

CLAHRC SY would also like to acknowledge the participation and resources of our partner organisations. Further details can be found at www.clahrc-sy.nihr.ac.uk

Dates and times

2 day course - Tuesday, 2nd - Wednesday, 3rd February 2021

Day 1: Starts at 9.30am with registration and refreshments, and is scheduled to finish at 4:30pm. There will be a course evening dinner held at approximately 7pm for all delegates (there is no additional charge to attend).

Day 2: Starts at 9am and is scheduled to finish at 4pm.

There will also be some online learning and some study in your own time that will be required.


£599 - Early Bird Rate for confirmed bookings received on or before 11pm, 2nd November 2020.

£699 - Standard Rate for confirmed bookings received on or before 11pm on 19th January 2021, or when the course reaches full capacity, whichever is soonest.

We also off a 20% discount for bookings of 4 or more people from the same organisation for the same course. Please contact Karen Holden +44 (0)114 222 2968 or at scharr-scu@sheffield.ac.uk for further details.

Bookings will automatically close at 11pm on 19th January 2021.

Booking and payment
Wherever possible we aim to run as many of our ScHARR short courses as is practically possible, but this may be in a different format to how they have previously been delivered, or were intending to be delivered. 

We are currently looking at other ways in which our courses could potentially be delivered e.g. online and which courses this would be suitable for.

Any bookings made for any of our ScHARR short courses will be ‘Covid-19 Secure’ meaning that we would ensure that any courses delivered face-to-face would only be done so if Government guidance permitted, and our venue(s) were able to adhere to all Covid-19 safety measures.

We are continuing to monitor the situation, and we will be regularly updating to comply with Government guidance and restrictions.

We would like to reassure you that any bookings made would be Covid-19 secure, whereby if the course were unable to take place in the format advertised at the time of your booking, we would offer a no-quibble guarantee that we would:

  • automatically transfer your booking to a rescheduled date
  • automatically transfer your booking to the Online version of the course
  • process a full refund, if neither of the above are suitable for you

This course is live on our Online Store, and we are currently taking bookings. 

All of our ScHARR short course bookings are initially processed via our Online Store. Payment is by credit/debit card or PayPal and via invoice (purchase order required) if required.

If your employer is paying your fees, and they would prefer to be invoiced, please ensure you have your purchase order details before making your booking and select the invoice option at the start of the booking process. Bookings are NOT confirmed until receipt of the purchase order is received at scharr-scu@sheffield.ac.uk.

If you have any queries regarding booking or payment, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Course Materials

Course Materials will be provided via a Delegate Course Website approximately 1 week prior to the course start date. Hard copies of exercises will be provided throughout the course as necessary. Hard copies of PowerPoint presentations will not be provided, but these can be printed by delegates before the start of the course via the Delegate Course Website.

Participants are asked to provide their own laptop for the duration of the course.


Halifax Hall Hotel & Conference Centre

Endcliffe Vale Road,


S10 3ER

T. 0114 222 8810

Accommodation and meals

The course fee includes lunch and refreshments throughout this 2-day course, plus a course evening dinner that takes place at 7pm on day 1 (there is no additional cost to attend).

No accommodation is included. We do however have a preferential rate of £70 per room/night at the venue Halifax Hall Hotel and Conference Centre for all of our delegates. Alternatively, we have our new Jonas Hotel, situated next to Halifax Hall, with a preferential rate of £50 per room/night. Details of how to book are provided in your automated confirmation email, upon receipt of your booking.

For further details please contact Karen Holden at scharr-scu@sheffield.ac.uk or telephone +44 114 222 2968.

If you have any particular dietary or access requirements then please contact the Short Course Unit with your requirements at the time of booking.


If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the Short Course Unit via email at scharr-scu@sheffield.ac.uk or call us on +44 114 222 2968.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Information last updated: 23 October 2020