The 2018 CESS/Essex Summer School will take place from 25 June to 6 July. The Summer School provides students with a thorough introduction to experimental methods. Instructors from CESS and beyond will cover different modules and two exceptional lecturers with varied research backgrounds will give talks on topics related to social science experiments. Students will have the opportunity to work with the popular experiment programming software oTree, and present their own work for discussion and feedback.

Course modules

Causal inference and experimental design

This module provides an introduction to features of experimental design for causal inference. The module introduces the potential outcomes framework and covers randomisation methods and statistical inference under different experimental design.

Experimental approaches to data analysis

This module will cover a variety of data analysis topics with a focus on the particular considerations that apply to experimental data: covariates and heterogenous treatment effects, noncompliance, attrition and mediation (if time permits). Familiarity with R will be expected.

Field experiments and RCTs

The mobile lab and field experiment module will give an overview on how to design and implement experiments outside the laboratory. The module will discuss ways to randomise outside the laboratory, field challenges with respect to causal inference, and the similarities and differences between the laboratory and the field.

Online experiments

An introduction to online experiments.

Lab experiments

In the lab experiments module, students will be given an overview of the promises and challenges of designing and running lab experiments.Specific topics covered will include a discussion of how the lab differs from other social science experimental settings, the lines between the lab and the field, and questions about external validity and generalising beyond the lab.

Introduction to R

Optional introduction to programming in R for design and analysis of experimental data.

Introduction to oTree

The oTree module will cover programming basics and best practices in the oTree framework. Students will be taken through some examples of common experiments as well as challenges for deployment, such as integrating remote payments or synchronising oTree with software to manage subject pools.

Student presentations

Students will be given opportunities to present their own work and receive feedback from instructors and lecturers.


Guest Lectures


The 2-week course will be held at Nuffield College Centre for Experimental Social Science (CESS) . CESS has a fully-equipped experimental laboratory which will be an integral part of the Summer School instruction.

Accommodation is available from Oxford Colleges and also from Oxford area hotels and hostels. Participants are responsible for arranging this individually. A number of accommodation options including rooms in University of Oxford colleges are listed at the following links:

It is highly recommended that students book their accommodation as early as possible since College accommodation is in high demand during the summer period. Please also note that travel costs are not covered by the tuition fee. As with accommodation, participants have to make travel arrangements individually.

Accepted participants will receive a detailed programme and syllabus ahead of the Summer School.