Module Catalogue 2022/23

HSC8055 : Introduction to systematic reviewing and critical appraisal

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Fiona Pearson
  • Lecturer: Dr Lynn Barron-Millar, Dr Louise Tanner, Mrs Catherine Richmond, Dr Katie Thomson, Dr Ryan Kenny, Mrs Fiona Beyer, Professor Dawn Craig, Mr Stephen Rice
  • Owning School: FMS Graduate School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The aim of this module is to provide all students with a basic grounding in systematic review and critical appraisal methods so that they are in a position to undertake their own first systematic review.

Combining lectures, workshops and self-directed learning this module seeks to provide the first time systematic reviewer with a sound grounding in the principles of systematic reviewing, including framing the question, identifying and critically appraising relevant studies, synthesising results, and interpreting and disseminating conclusions. This module will equip all students with a basic understanding and skills needed to actively participate in the planning and conduct of a systematic review.

Outline Of Syllabus

The introduction to systematic reviewing and critical appraisal will cover the following topics:

• An introduction to systematic reviewing, its approaches and epistemology;
• How to design a research question
• Data management
• Developing a search strategy, databases and data sifting, including a practical session
• Critical appraisal
• Quantitative review methods – including introduction to meta-analysis
• Qualitative and mixed review methods

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of the module students should be able to:

• Exhibit an understanding of the basic approaches and epistemological underpinnings of systematic reviewing
• Describe the process of systematic reviewing and the rationale for the steps taken
• Demonstrate an understanding of critical appraisal in systematic reviews
• Determine the appropriate application of either qualitative, quantitative or mixed review methods relative to the research question being addressed
• Recognise the different types of bias that may affect systematic reviews and understand how to minimise them

Intended Skill Outcomes

At the end of the module students should be able to:

• Apply the knowledge learned to provide a thorough and robust critical appraisal of a published systematic review
• Understand how to select and apply appropriate tools and methods in the planning and organising of a systematic review
• Understand the application of appropriate tools and methods to identify, data extract and critically appraise relevant studies
• Undertake study selection based on a set of eligibility criteria
• Undertake purposeful data extraction
• Conduct critical appraisals of included studies
• Identify appropriate synthesis methods according to their research question and evidence identified.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials61:006:00Present in person: Introduction to each session
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading121:0012:00To access and engage with directed reading and online content
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities61:006:00Exercises set between sessions to support learning
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching60:303:00Present in person: Discussion and feedback on workshops
Guided Independent StudySkills practice61:309:00To further embed understanding of material outlined in lecture materials and workshops
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities61:006:00Preparation for small group teaching
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops61:006:00Present in person: Skills development exercises embedded within each session
Guided Independent StudyProject work63:0018:00Assignment
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion60:303:00Delivered online via Canvas
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity121:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery60:303:00Delivered online via Zoom. To help with independent study, skills practice and written assessment
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study131:0013:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk60:303:00Present in person: To introduce workshops embedded within each session
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module aims to provide students with the confidence and skills to undertake their own systematic review and critical appraisal.

In order to ensure that all students are at a similar level of comprehension students will be asked to read and prepare prior to the learning and teaching activities.

The scheduled and structured learning is designed to introduce systematic reviewing and critical appraisal and will equip students with the skills to carry out a systematic review. There will be a mixture of small group teaching, guided learning and workshops during which students will be encouraged to interact with one another and develop their skills in the different elements of conducting a systematic review.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M100To undertake a critical appraisal of a published systematic review (2000 word count)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will write a 2000 word critical appraisal of a systematic review selected by the module leader.

This assessment will enable us to assess student’s skills and knowledge of systematic review methodology and its application. Students will be expected to critique the inclusion criteria, search strategy, synthesis, conduct of the review and reporting. A discussion on bias will be expected. Appropriate critical appraisal tools can be used to guide the critique.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.