BSRT Graduate School

Scientific Quality

Title of Course: 
Good experimental design
Optional or Mandatory: 
This course is optional for doctoral researchers at the BSRT
booked/available (including waiting list): 

Robust experimental design is essential for good-quality science. A badly designed experiment can cost you vital weeks, while a properly planned, well-controlled experiment will provide you with data that are clear to interpret and highlight potential future research questions. The principles of good experimental design are rarely taught, but rather normally acquired through experience, often by making many mistakes along the way. This course offers you the opportunity to learn about experimental design from two experienced postdoctoral researchers. You will then be able to apply what you have learnt in the course to your research projects, hopefully saving you time in the critical early stages of your project.

In this one-and-half day course, you will start by learning about the process of defining research questions. We will then discuss how to make testable hypotheses and how to go about designing appropriate and realistic experiments. We will also examine how to choose controls. You will then be asked to critically analyse examples from the literature and to come up with your own experimental plan for a given topic. The focus will be on biological sciences, as this is our background, but we welcome suggestions for topics related to engineering.


1) To learn the principles of good experimental design
2) To critically analyse the design of experiments in the literature
3) To recognize the consequences of a badly planned experiment
4) To understand how to define a research question
5) To construct testable hypotheses
6) To identify relevant controls
7) To design and justify a meaningful set of experiments to address a hypothesis


Who should attend: The course is primarily intended for first-year PhD students. However, Masters students and more senior PhD students are welcome to attend. A maximum of 12 people can attend.