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Systematic Reviews - HEA00036M

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  • Department: Health Sciences
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Peter Coventry
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Related modules

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Additional information

Important note: module pre-requisites
Please note that students are required to complete either Randomised Controlled Trials as pre-requisite or Health Research in Practice or Health Research Methods as co-requisite to this module. It is not necessary for students to complete more than one of the listed pre/co-requisite modules in order to undertake this module.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
B Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

  • To help students gain an understanding of the pivotal position of systematic reviews in the context of applied health research and evidence-based health and social care.
  • To introduce the basic principles of systematic reviewing.
  • To provide students with an appreciation of different systematic review methodologies across different branches of health sciences.
  • To provide students with the knowledge and skills to design, conduct, analyse and report on their own systematic reviews which they can use for their dissertation, doctoral research and in future roles as health and social care practitioners, managers and decision makers.
  • Understand the role and relevance of patient and public engagement in the delivery and dissemination of systematic reviews.

Module learning outcomes

At the conclusion of the module the student will:

  1. Understand the importance of systematic reviews and how to find them.
  2. Understand the key features of a systematic review.
  3. Be able to recognise and critically appraise different types of systematic reviews
  4. Be able to deploy of a range of searching, appraisal and analytical skills and knowledge in order to: specify a review question, plan and conduct a systematic review of randomised controlled trials, observational studies or qualitative studies.
  5. Be able to synthesise the results of studies identified in a review, narratively, quantitatively and qualitatively and explore sources of heterogeneity.

Module content

Health policy, clinical and public health practice should be informed by the available evidence. Systematic reviews or evidence syntheses are comprehensive, rigorous and critical summaries of the available research evidence on a specific topic. Relevant studies are systematically identified, their data extracted and synthesised in narrative form and, where appropriate, statistically or thematically pooled, taking care to minimise error and bias. This module provides students with appropriate knowledge and training required for finding, interpreting and conducting systematic reviews. The module sessions are as follows:

  • Why systematic reviews are so important and how they have influenced policy and practise. Identifying uncertainties and review questions
  • Databases and searching (where to find systematic reviews, where and how to search for studies (practical session)
  • Study selection, data extraction, risk of bias
  • Narrative synthesis and evidence maps
  • Meta-analysis: methods for quantitative data synthesis
  • Exploring sources of heterogeneity and checking for publication bias
  • Meta-analysis practical session
  • Reporting and critical appraisal of different types of systematic reviews
  • Systematic reviews of qualitative studies and qualitative synthesis


Task Length % of module mark
Systematic Reviews 2500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Systematic Reviews 2500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback for summative assessment is provided on the standard proforma, within the timescale specified in the programme handbook.

Indicative reading

Sign up to this free introductory module about conducting systematic reviews from Cochrane Interactive Learning:

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.