HAR6114: Systematic Reviews and Evidence Synthesis Principles (online)


The purpose of this module is to enable students to understand the principles of systematic review. It covers the defining characteristics and application of systematic reviews; how to search for and select relevant evidence; how to assess the quality of primary research articles; the key issues that may generate bias; and the general principles governing evidence synthesis.


This module aims to provide students with both a critical awareness and a practical understanding of the principles behind, and complexities inherent in the systematic review of evidence for international Health Technology Assessment (HTA).

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, a participant will be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate the key elements of systematic review
  2. Assess the likely threats to internal and external validity during a review
  3. Identify and evaluate critically the primary research to be included in a review
  4. Identify and interpret sources of bias and uncertainty in evidence synthesis
  5. Assess critically when it is appropriate to combine studies within a synthesis, and how best this is performed

Teaching Methods

  • Online methods will be used to define and illustrate the principles and key elements of the systematic review process, and possible sources of bias affecting the validity of reviews.
  • Practical examples and exercises based around case studies will be used to develop students understanding of the retrieval and critical evaluation of primary research, and to develop their ability to identify and interpret sources of bias, and to synthesise and interpret data.
  • Guided independent study will deepen their understanding of the systematic review process and its complexities.


Guided and independent Study (including preparation for assessments) 150 hours.


Component Weighting
Report (3,000 words) 100%

The assessment will consist of a 3000-word structured report demonstrating the application of systematic review principles.

The pass mark is 50%.