PENG9610 Evidence-based engineering Course description

Course name in Norwegian
Evidence-based engineering
Study programme
PhD Programme in Engineering Science
Year of study
Programme description
Course history


Engineers have to make many important decisions on use of tools, work processes, project organizations, technical frameworks and many other topics throughout their career. Currently, too many of these choices are based on what is fashionable and argumentation made by people with vested interested. This course has as its main goal to teach students how to be evidence-based and make better judgments and decisions in engineering disciplines. To be evidence-based means in this context to base important decisions and judgments on well-formulated decisions and questions, collection of valid, relevant and representative empirical evidence, proper analyses and synthesis of the evidence, and use of the synthesized evidence as input in properly designed judgment and decision processes.

The course will be offered once a year, provided 5 or more students sign up for the course. If less than 5 students sign up for a course, the course will be cancelled for that year.

Recommended preliminary courses

Master's degree in engineering science or related fields.

Required preliminary courses


Learning outcomes



On successful completion of the course, the student:

  • knows how to formulate decision to be made or questions to be answered so that it can be subject to evidence-based engineering

  • knows about relevant sources for collection of evidence

  • knows about the most common empirical methods for creating empirical evidence

  • knows about theories and models for evaluation of argumentation and empirical evidence

  • knows about theories and models for synthesizing evidence, including that of systematic litterature reviews

  • knows about theories and models for good judgment and decision-making


On successful completion of the course, the student can:

  • formulate decisions and questions as basis for evidence-based engineering

  • collect and evaluate the quality and relevance of evidence

  • design empirical studies for the purpose of creating empirical evidence

  • aggregate the evaluated evidence so that it can be used to support a decision or answer a question

  • design proper processes for judgment and decision-making


General competence

On successful completion of the course, the student can:

  • practice evidence-based engineering in work settings

  • support and lead experimentation and other means of creating local evidence in work settings

  • assess the need for, initiate and drive innovation in the use of evidence-based principles in engineering contexts.


The topics covered in this course aims at giving the students the necessary skills to be evidence-based and includes lectures on:

  • The basics of evidence-based engineering

  • Empirical methods and their use in engineering disciplines

  • How to critically evaluate and give rational argumentations

  • How to collect, evaluate and use practice-based experience

  • How to collect, evaluate and use research-based evidence

  • How to conduct empirical studies

  • How to aggregate evidence

  • How to design good judgment and decision-making processes


To illustrate the topics and exemplify the use of evidence-based decision processes, selected engineering topics, such as software development methods, cost estimation, project management and workplace organization, will be used as cases. The course contains mandatory deliveries, exercises and student presentations.

Teaching and learning methods

The course will consist of lectures. In conjunction with the lectures, students will complete exercises related to the lecture topic. A compulsory assignment will be given to the students, to be presented to the other students on the course.

Practical training

The students will be exposed to practical exercises in evidence-based engineering. These exercises will be tailored to the topics that have been discussed and lectured on.

Course requirements

The following required coursework must be approved before the student can take the exam:

Prior to examination it is required that a compulsory assignment be completed, presented to the other students, and approved.


The exam itself is a report written on a self-selected estimation topic. The structure and content of the report should follow evidence-based principles and require searching for, evaluating and summarising practice and research-based evidence.

The exam can be appealed.

Permitted exam materials and equipment

All aids are permitted.

Grading scale

Pass or fail.


Two examiners. External examiner is used periodically.