How do we use Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) to assess the impact of health interventions?

Join our online RCT course and learn to design and implement your own trials.

  • Find out how trials are used in healthcare and public health settings.
  • Learn from award-winning health research teams.
  • Gain a strong career advantage as a researcher or health professional.

This part-time course fits around full-time work. You can access our expertise wherever you are in the world and manage your own study hours.

Build credits towards a Masters degree

This online course is part of:

You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards any of these postgraduate qualifications.

What you’ll study

This course will take you through the process of designing a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) from start to finish.

RCTs are the ‘gold standard’ test for proving a new drug or treatment is better than an existing one.

You will learn how these trials are used in the evaluation of real-world healthcare and public health settings.

You’ll develop your knowledge and awareness of:

  • how to design a fair test
  • the appropriate use of trials and alternative trial designs
  • involving patients and the public
  • the logistics and practicalities of designing real-world trials
  • the role of clinical trials units.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to…

  • Design and implement fair and accurate RCTs.
  • Recognise a range of trial design options that you can use.
  • Specify and critically evaluate the key elements of trial design.
  • Understand the logistics and practicalities involved in designing real-world trials.
  • Describe the differences between pragmatic and explanatory trials.
  • Justify trial design decisions.

How you’ll study

Online learning

This distance-learning short course is delivered flexibly, 100% online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

Your teaching

This course is taught at Masters level.

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:

  • podcasts
  • tutorials via Powerpoint with audio
  • interviews with clinicians
  • assignments
  • reading materials
  • discussion boards with your online colleagues and tutors
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library.

You’ll also use independent study and group exercises based around examples from real trials to develop your critical understanding of trial design.

Your tutors

You’ll learn from a team of experienced health researchers and academics from our School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition.

Your course coordinator

Where this will take you

Towards a Masters

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards our:

Build your learning

We have a range of online healthcare and medicine short courses you can use to build your skills.

Many carry credits you can build up into postgraduate qualifications, including Masters degrees:


Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Free career support

Access our free careers service while you study.

  • 1:1 appointments
  • CV checks
  • Interview prep
  • Job opportunities

See how our careers service can help you.

Entry requirements

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least:

  • a 2:2 (second-class) undergraduate degree
  • or relevant experience that supports this level of study.

Apply for this course

Start date
18 September 2023
Added to your wishlist