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Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) are used to assess the impact of health interventions.

This online RCT course will equip you with the skills to design and implement your own trials. You’ll learn from award-winning research experts from our Centre for Healthcare Randomised Trials and Health Services Research Unit.

A flexible, online course, you can access our expertise wherever you are in the world. As a researcher or health professional, you’ll gain a strong career advantage with a part-time course you can fit around your life and work.

What will I 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 will 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 will I study?

This online, 12-week short course is delivered entirely online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

Part of several of our Health-related Masters degrees, this course is taught at Masters level by experienced health researchers and academics.

Your course is delivered through MyAberdeen, our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Also available as an app, you can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and mobile device 24/7.

Your course features a range of resources, including:

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

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

Course coordinator

Where will this take me?

Designing Real-World Trials is part of a suite of Health courses that we offer online. These can be used to build up credits towards higher qualifications. See our full range of postgraduate Health degrees.

Find out more about credits.

Further learning

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards further study. The course is an ideal taster to continue your professional development with our:


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 careers advice

We’ll help you explore your career potential and connect with job opportunities around the world.

You can access our free careers service while you study.

From interview training to CV clinics, we’re here with tailored, impartial and professional advice.

Am I ready?

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) degree
  • or relevant experience that supports this level of study.

Apply for this course

Start date
28 September 2020