Professional development course

Contribution Analysis for Impact Evaluation (online)

Course details

From 31 January 2022 until 24 February 2022
£650 for module one. £1,300 for modules one and two.

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Learn how to design impact evaluations more effectively using a contribution analysis approach.

Many development programmes have overlapping activities that are regularly adapted in collaboration with multiple partners to respond to ongoing changes in the operating environment. Traditional impact evaluation methods that measure differences in baseline and endline outcomes are not well suited to deal with this complexity. Contribution Analysis has emerged as a structured approach that is better able to address these real-world challenges. It consists of a step-wise, iterative process of refining Theory of Change. Mixed method research designs are used to verify the critical and contested assumptions.

You‘ll be introduced to the strengths and weaknesses of several novel methods that can be used within a Contribution Analysis approach to impact evaluation, including methods to explore causal patterns in data sets (Qualitative Comparative Analysis; Explorative Statistics) and qualitative causal inference (Process Tracing, Realist evaluation), and methods to increase learning and empowerment (Participatory Evaluation).

The course comprises two modules. The first module focuses on theory and methods. The second module focuses on participant’s personal projects and impact evaluation challenges. It is possible to register only for the first module.

Course aims

To equip individuals and organisations to design impact evaluations more effectively using a contribution analysis framing.

Who should attend?

Experienced independent evaluators; programme implementers; early-stage researchers interested in innovative and mixed research methods; and evaluation commissioners including policy makers.

Previous clients include: Gatsby Foundation; Global Affairs Canada; Korea Development Institute; Partnership Resource Centre; Rainforest Alliance; Vaccine Alliance (Gavi); World Agroforestry Centre; and World Food Programme.

How you’ll learn

The course consists of two modules. You can register for both modules or just Module 1.

Module 1 covers theory and methods. You will learn through online presentations and live Q&A, two days per week, for two weeks. Module 1 will take approximately eight hours per week to complete. Due to varying time zones of participants, the exact timing of sessions will be confirmed and agreed with participants once registration has closed.  However, we can confirm that teaching will take place on a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Module 2 focuses on participants’ personal project and impact evaluation challenges. It runs over four weeks. During weeks one and two, you will have two 30 minute personal sessions per week with a course facilitator to discuss your individual experiences and goals. In weeks three and four, you will participate in bespoke group sessions on the themes or methodological challenges that emerged during your discussions in weeks one and two. These group sessions will take approximately five hours per week. As you progress through modules 1 and 2, you’ll apply your knowledge incrementally – ending up with a ‘finished’ example of a strong, interlinked mixed-methods research design to verify the theory of change of a project or programme.

Pre-recorded lectures, presentations and reading materials, along with a comprehensive workbook, will be made available in advance. You will be able to maintain dialogue with other participants and course facilitators throughout the course via a dedicated online channel.

This is an online course with participants from all over the world. Whilst we will try to accommodate participants’ needs and adjust to take account of different time zones, it may not be possible to accommodate everyone so some flexibility will be required.

Learning Outcomes

At completing this course you will be able to:

  • Understand current debates on impact evaluation methodologies.
  • Develop an evaluation design that responds to the evaluation questions and context.
  • Choose appropriate methods to gather and analyse data to support conclusions about effectiveness.
  • Critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of the various evaluation approaches.

 What our participants say

“The course provided an overarching framework within which to view different impact evaluation methods”.

“The course structure was great, with a good mix of group work, theory, and opportunities to apply learning to your own work. The facilitators were approachable and set out a very good environment for learning.”

“Being primarily a quantitative researcher, I now feel more confident in applying qualitative methods.”

Entry requirements

Participants must have experience with impact evaluation or be working in a role where impact evaluation is needed. The course is taught in English. To derive the maximum benefit from the course, you should be proficient in English and able to take an active part in discussions. Your English needs to be of an intermediate standard or higher. Ideally you will have an International English Language Test System (IELTS) score of 6.5 or above, or a Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR) score of B2 or above. However, this is not essential. Participants will need an internet connection sufficient to stream live video (Zoom, Facetime or similar) in order to engage fully with the course.

How to apply

Before applying please read our short course booking Terms_and_Conditions  (pdf) and IDS Code of Conduct (pdf).

The application procedure is a three-stage process:

Stage 1: Apply by completing the online application form. Deadline for applications is 16:00 GMT, 21 January 2021. When applying, please indicate whether you wish to register for the whole course or only Module 1.

Stage 2: You will be notified within two weeks as to whether your application has been approved or not. Successful applicants will receive an acceptance email and details of how to pay the course fees. Places on the course are not guaranteed until fees have been received.

Stage 3: Once fees have been received, you will be sent confirmation of your place on the course.

This is course is run regularly. To register your interest in future sessions, please contact us at: [email protected]

Teaching staff

Image of Giel Ton
Giel Ton

Research Fellow

Image of Marina Apgar
Marina Apgar

Research Fellow

Key contacts

Image of Leah Plati
Leah Plati

Programme Officer (MA) Programme Manager (Short Courses)


+44 (0)1273 915832


About this professional development course

Programmes and centres
Centre for Development Impact

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