HAR6114: Systematic Reviews and Evidence Synthesis Principles (online)

The Systematic Reviews and Evidence Synthesis: Principles (online) module is led by Sue Harnan. It runs in the Autumn semester and is worth 15 credits.


The Systematic Reviews and Evidence Synthesis: Principles (online) module is led by Sue Harnan. It runs in the Autumn semester and is worth 15 credits.

It is one of the modules on:

This module is available as a CPD option

This module is not available as a DDP module


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
  • 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.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Information last updated: 27 January 2023

A world-class university – a unique student experience

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.