Designing and Conducting Pragmatic Randomised Controlled Trials

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

The Short Course Programme in Population Health Sciences has been temporarily suspended.


We anticipate opening bookings in late November 2020.

Information on this page relates to the last run of the course and is for reference only. 

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Sign up to our mailing list to be notified when bookings reopen. 

We may need to make responsive changes to our future programme to follow the latest Public Health, Government and University guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19).

Please be aware that all information about short courses planned for 2021 is provisional and subject to change.

Course dates

8 - 12 June 2020

Course duration

5 days (approximately 30 hours teaching).
Registration will start at 9am on the first day, the course will finish by 4.15pm on the final day.

Course tutors

Professor Athene Lane, Professor Chris MetcalfeDr Jodi TaylorDr Amanda Lewis (course organisers), Professor Richard Morris, Dr Kerry Avery, Dr Noreen Hopewell-Kelly, Paul Roy, Jessica Frost, Eloisa McCarthy, Clare Clement, Dr Lucy Culliford, Dr Caroline Wilson, Dr Fergus Caskey, Nicholas Turner, Daisy Gaunt, Dr Stephanie MacNeill, Dr Rebecca Kandiyali, Dr Vikki Wylde, Professor Tim Peters and Dr Jo Worthington.

Course aims 

The aim of this course is to provide an understanding of the essentials of designing, conducting and analysing pragmatic randomised controlled trials (RCTs).  The course examines RCTs evaluating health and public health interventions in primary, secondary and community settings with individual and cluster randomised designs.  This course will not cover regulatory approvals or research governance.

Course objectives

  1. to understand why and when randomised trials are optimally conducted; 
  2. to address the key questions in designing a trial, including sample size;
  3. examine issues involved in the planning, conducting and completing a successful trial;
  4. to understand how to assess patient experiences and incorporate patient and public involvement effectively in trials; 
  5. to use strategies to enhance trial recruitment, adherence and retention;
  6. to understand the distinctive concepts in the analysis of clinical and health economic data in pragmatic randomised trials;
  7. to gain insight into the experience of being a Chief Investigator and working with registered Clinical Trials Units

Who the course is intended for

This course is designed for:

  • Trial Managers and co-ordinators
  • Researchers / Administrators working on trials
  • Chief Investigators / Principal Investigators
  • Other specialists looking to understand RCTs including clinicians, health care and public health care researchers

Course outline

The introductory course covers the following topics:

  • Need for randomised trials 
  • Design of trials 
  • Randomisation 
  • Sample size 
  • Feasibility and pilot studies 
  • Trial planning, resourcing and working with the NHS 
  • Trial initiation 
  • Qualitative research in trials 
  • Patient and Public Involvement   
  • Optimising trial recruitment 
  • Trial conduct and closure 
  • Protocol adherence and missing data 
  • Cluster and public health trials, including in schools 
  • Outcome assessment and Patient Reported Outcome Measures 
  • Health economics overview 
  • Primary and secondary trial analyses 
  • Experience of being a Chief Investigator 
  • Clinical Trials Unit support for trialists

I really loved the course as a whole and learnt a lot from it. I also enjoyed having an opportunity to talk to and meet others.

Course feedback, June 2019

Course fee


More information on course fees, fee waivers and reduced prices.

Course venue

Bristol Medical School
Canynge Hall
39 Whatley Road
United Kingdom

Map and directions

Course refreshments

We provide morning and afternoon refreshment breaks, including tea and coffee, biscuits and fresh fruit.

If you have specific dietary needs we ask that you let us know in advance.

Lunch is not included. There are a range of local cafes and supermarkets nearby for students to purchase lunch. 


Information about accommodation in the area.


For further information please email

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