Accessibility statement

Evidence Synthesis - HEA00036M

« Back to module search

  • Department: Health Sciences
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Peter Coventry
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

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 period
B Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

  • To help students gain an understanding of the pivotal position of evidence synthesis in the context of applied health and social care research and practice
  • To introduce the basic principles of systematic reviewing.
  • To provide students with an appreciation of a broad range of 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 evidence synthesis and in particular systematic reviews in applied health and social care research and practice
  2. Understand the key features of a systematic review.
  3. Be able to deploy of a range of searching, appraisal and analytical skills and knowledge in order to: specify a review question, determine the appropriate review methodology, write a protocol, plan and conduct a systematic review of randomised controlled trials, observational studies or qualitative studies.
  4. Be able to synthesise the results of studies identified in a review, narratively, quantitatively and qualitatively and explore sources of heterogeneity.
  5. Understand the role of knowledge translation to disseminate findings of various forms of evidence synthesis

Module content

Health and social care research and practice should be informed by the available evidence. Evidence synthesis is an approach to identifying, collating, synthesising, and interpreting information from a range of sources to produce critical summaries of the available research evidence on a specific topic. Systematic reviews are a critical component of evidence synthesis. 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 quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods systematic reviews. The module sessions are as follows:

  • An introduction to evidence synthesis and developing a question and a protocol for an evidence review.
  • 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
  • Qualitative evidence synthesis
  • Meta-analysis: methods for quantitative data synthesis
  • Meta-analysis: exploring sources of heterogeneity and checking for publication bias
  • Mixed methods evidence synthesis
  • Dissemination and knowledge translation


Task Length % of module mark
Essay: Evidence Synthesis
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay: Evidence Synthesis
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:

Learning on the module can be supported through reading some key texts and resources:

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.