Module Catalogue 2024/25

HSC8055 : Introduction to systematic reviewing and critical appraisal

HSC8055 : Introduction to systematic reviewing and critical appraisal

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Fiona Pearson
  • Lecturer: Miss Nicole O'Connor, Dr Katie Thomson, Mrs Madeleine Still, Mrs Sonia Garcia Gonzalez-Moral, Miss Patience Kunonga, Professor Dawn Craig, Dr Ryan Kenny, Dr Aalya Al-Assaf, Dr Fiona Campbell, Ms Eugenie Johnson, Mrs Fiona Beyer, Mr Alex Inskip, Dr Nick Meader
  • Owning School: Population Health Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

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 can plan and undertake their own systematic review and critically appraise systematic review findings. 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.

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
•       Screening
•       Data extraction
•       Critical appraisal
•       Quantitative review synthesis methods – including introduction to meta-analysis
•       Qualitative synthesis methods
•       Rating the certainty of evidence in systematic reviews and other evidence syntheses
•       Critical appraisal of systematic review findings

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 of primary studies included within systematic reviews
• Determine the appropriate application of either qualitative or quantitative 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 undertaking of a systematic review
•       Understand how to search for records appropriate to a research question
•       Undertake study selection based on a set of eligibility criteria
•       Undertake purposeful data extraction
•       Understand the application of appropriate tools and methods to identify relevant studies and extract data for synthesis
•       Conduct critical appraisal of primary studies
•       Select and apply appropriate synthesis methods according to the research question and relevant studies identified

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion121:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture61:006:00Present in person: Introduction to each session
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities61:006:00Exercises set between sessions to support learning
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading121:0012:00To access and engage with directed reading and online content
Guided Independent StudySkills practice61:006:00To further embed understanding of material outlined in lecture materials and workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching60:303:00Present in person: Discussion and feedback on workshops
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities61:006:00Preparation for synchronous workshops
Guided Independent StudyProject work61:006:00Assignment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops61:006:00Present in person: Skills development exercises embedded within each session
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 assessment
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study131:0013:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk61:006:00Present in person: To introduce exercises in 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 of included studies. It teaches not only rigorous, trustworthy methods for conducting a systematic review but what deviation from these means for systematic review findings giving students the skills needed to critically appraise a systematic review.

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


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