HAR6169: Study Design and Systematic Review Methods


This module provides an introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods, combining theoretical instruction with practical exercises. This unit provides a foundation in research methods which complements the other modules on this course. There is an emphasis on research methods used in the evaluation, assessment and analysis of technologies in healthcare.


This module aims to:

  • Equip students with basic skills in research, including understanding different study designs and systematic review methods
  • Expose students to the concepts of bias and confounding in study design
  • Develop information resource skills including developing a search strategy
  • Describe quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis methods
  • Explain the importance of secondary research methods in health care evaluations
  • Equip students with techniques for critical appraisal and quality assessment of different study designs
  • Highlight the importance and application of research ethics and governance in research with people
  • Enable students to disseminate research results

Learning outcomes

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

  1. Describe the application of hypothesis generation and testing to qualitative and quantitative research
  2. Describe a range of research designs (including systematic review methods) used in health care research
  3. Identify the advantages and disadvantages associated with quantitative and qualitative designs
  4. Explain the appropriate use of quantitative or qualitative methods to collect data
  5. Design and conduct a literature search
  6. Describe the principles of evidence synthesis
  7. Describe the principles of research ethics

Teaching Methods

A variety of teaching methods will be used including face-to-face sessions and some online learning. The module will be delivered predominantly through a series of lectures to introduce students to the concepts of study design and to teach the elements of systematic reviews and how to conduct a systematic review. This will be supported by tutorials and seminars which will be used to consolidate concepts and skills learnt during lectures. In addition, students will undertake 121 hours of independent learning comprising further reading and course assignment work.


For this 15 credit module, international convention indicates a nominal 150 study hours. Approximately 120 hours are expected for learning comprising further reading and course assignment work. Lectures and tutorial attendance is compulsory.

Merely attending the taught sessions is unlikely to give you sufficient knowledge to pass the module assignment or, more importantly, understand research findings presented to you.


A written assignment (100% weighting / 3000 words) in the form of a systematic literature review. Learning outcomes 1 to 7 will be assessed via the assignment, in which the student will be required to demonstrate that they are able to: generate a research hypothesis, select appropriate study designs for inclusion, understand the strengths and limitations of the study designs they include, understand the data collection methods used in the studies they include, undertake an appropriate search for studies to include, and apply all stages of the systematic review process.