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

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About the course

This online 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 this course, time will be allocated for structured, small group study to reflect on experiences and to begin to design an evaluation proposal in line with the nature of your specific needs.

Feedback from previous attendees

"The content was useful and I liked the way it was broken down into 10 key points that should be considered when evaluating complex interventions."

"I thought the course leaders were very knowledgeable and approachable and happy to answer questions."

"Good depth and breadth of information provided."

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

Dates and times



The fee for this course is £450 per person.

Current UOS Staff/Students

Current University of Sheffield staff and students are eligible to book at a reduced rate of £380. An active email address is required to book at this reduced rate.

Please see Booking and payment section for further details.

 All fees are VAT exempt.

Booking and payment

Payment can be made via credit / debit card or PayPal.  Please visit the Online Store to make your booking.

Non-University of Sheffield applicants - If your employer is paying your fees and they require an invoice, please ensure you have your purchase order details before making your booking. 

Current University of Sheffield staff and students – If you would prefer to be invoiced or to pay via an internal transfer, a purchase order will be required before you make your booking.  Please contact your department administrator or finance team for help with this.

Difficulties making your booking?

If you are having difficulties making your booking, please contact the Online Store directly at

Course delivery & requirements

This course will be delivered using the University's 'Blackboard' platform.

NHS staff - important note: We are aware of issues caused by NHS firewalls.  We recommend registering with an alternative/non-NHS email and using a non-NHS device when attending the course if possible. Thank you *


  • Reliable and stable internet connection.
  • A PC or laptop
  • Webcam and microphone (preferably a USB headset)
  • Mouse 
  • A quiet room where there will be no/minimal disruption.
  • Ability to access Google applications (e.g. Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Sheets).

For further information please do not hesitate to contact us:

Email at

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: