Data Linkage

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We may need to make responsive changes to our courses at short notice in order to follow the latest Public Health, Government and University guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19).


This course is temporarily suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It is next expected to run in the 2021-22 short course programme.

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

Mailing List

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

The course leaders were very knowledgeable and approachable. Overall the course exceeded my expectations, it was very useful and informative. I would highly recommend this course for researchers considering using linkage data.

Course feedback, July 2018

Course dates

23 - 25 March 2020

Course duration

3 days (approximately 8 hours teaching and 4 hours of practical sessions).
Registration will start at 8.30am on the first day, the course will finish by 4.30pm on the final day.

Course tutors

Andrew Boyd (course organiser) and others

Course aims 

To provide a basic understanding of the research value and uses of linking to routine health and administrative records. The course will focus on describing which data are available and on providing an oversight of how to interpret these data in a secondary context.

Course objectives

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  • recognise some of the uses / the value of data linkage in research;
  • know which electronic primary care data resources exist, and the pros and cons of the different means of accessing these data;
  • understand which health data are available in national population centralised health databases, and how to access them;
  • understand the range of administrative (social) data currently available;
  • gain awareness of the legal and ethical requirements of accessing and using linked data;
  • understand the risks associated with working with, and publishing, individual level data and to be introduced to some of the means of mitigating these risks;
  • understand some of the issues that need to be taken into account when working with linked administrative data.

Please note: Practical sessions of this course will be held in a computer lab, so you will not need to bring a laptop.

Who the course is intended for

The course is aimed at researchers who are interested in the potential for using linked routine records in observational research. While the course will introduce record linkage assuming no prior knowledge, however some experience in epidemiology, data handling and statistical analysis is required.

Course outline

The course structure loosely follows the journey a researcher needs to take to establish a 'data linkage pipeline'. Firstly, we summarise the range of data that are available. We then describe the application process and focus in depth on some of the key criteria by which applications are judged (e.g. information governance, patient/participant involvement and disclosure control). We then describe issues relating to defining exposure and outcome measures (needed for both application purposes and exploratory analysis).

The taught course is reinforced by a series of small-group practical sessions where you will learn to apply the lesson contents to an 'application' that your group will pitch to a mock application panel.

Finally, we bring the taught issues to life through a series of exemplar talks - focusing on the perils and pitfalls of the record linkage process - from researchers who have successfully used linkage strategies in their investigations.

Recommended reading

Burton PR, Murtagh MJ, Boyd A, Williams JB, Dove ES, Wallace SE, Tassé AM, Little J, Chisholm RL, Gaye A, Hveem K. Data Safe Havens in health research and healthcare. Bioinformatics. 2015 Jun 25:btv279.

Course fee


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

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. 

Edit this page