MSc Occupational Medicine / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Evidence Synthesis: Systematic Reviews

Course unit fact file
Unit code POPH68001
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This module is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to conduct a systematic review of intervention effectiveness. Vocational relevance This module will help both clinicians and health scientists develop their careers in the area of evidence synthesis by providing them with the knowledge and skills to conduct a systematic review of intervention effectiveness as part of a team.

The module is intended to provide students with an overview of systematic reviews but will primarily be focused on systematic reviews of intervention effectiveness. The module will cover the following areas:

  • Formulating review questions
  • Selecting appropriate review types
  • Developing eligibility criteria and identifying evidence
  • Critical appraisal for different study designs
  • Data synthesis (meta-analysis & narrative) and interpretation
  • Reporting standards and GRADE


The unit aims to produce students who understand the prupose, nature and application of a systematic review and who can undertake systematic review of intervention effectiveness.  This module is suitable for students interested in any field of healthcare.

Learning outcomes

Category of outcome Students should be able to:
Knowledge and understanding

A1 Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the role of systematic reviews in evidence based health care

A2 Demonstrate knowledge about the individual stages of a systematic review

A3 Be able to identify when the professional input of an information scientist or statistician is required

Intellectual skills

B1 Critically evaluate evidence

B2 Critically interpret systematic reviews

B3 Complete a risk of bias assessment in individual studies

B4 Complete a GRADE assessment of a body of evidence

Practical skills

C1 Undertake an appropriate role in each stage of a systematic review

C2 Develop a protocol for a systematic review

C3 Choose design appropriate tools to critically appraise individual studies

C4 Extract relevant data from studies for evidence synthesis purposes

C5 Construct a summary of findings table

C6 Be prepared to undertake a systematic review as part of a team of reviewers

Transferable skills and personal qualities

D1 Demonstrate the ability to evaluate his/her own academic progression

D2 Demonstrate effective team working by taking responsibility for carrying out tasks within a group

D3 Demonstrate ability to use specific software including RevMan


Teaching and learning methods

All content will be provided online via Blackboard. This will include materials to be worked through in the student’s own time, video content explaining concepts and tutorials showing students how to use software, discussion boards, self-directed reading. Students will be expected to read all articles that are marked as ‘required’ and to participate in discussion boards on a regular basis. While students are expected to engage with all discussion boards, they will not be penalised for non-participation.

Students will also be asked to maintain a reflective learning log to enable an awareness of knowledge and skills gained and to help identify any gaps where further work is required. The benefits of this learning log will be outline in the first week of the module and students will be provided with a template and guidance around how to use their learning logs. Students will be strongly encouraged to engage with this activity and will be provided with the opportunity for feedback from a course tutor, however this will not be a required activity and students will not be penalised for not engaging.

Participation rates in the discussion boards will be monitored and students who are not engaging will be approached informally by a course tutor via email. This will help to identify students who may be struggling and act as an opportunity to make them aware of the range of support offered by the University (e.g. English language support, disability support etc.)

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students will be expected to develop as critical thinkers who are able to recognise the various types of bias present in published research and be able to apply this understanding to the interpretation of the research findings.
Group/team working
Team working is an essential part of conducting a systematic review. Students will be actively encouraged to work as part of a team and to reflect on their own and each others' contributions to team working.
Students will gain the methodological knowledge to conduct a systematic review of interventions.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Students will be provided with personalised feedback for their final summative assignment (2,500-3,000 words or equivalent) within 20 working days.

Further opportunities for formative feedback (on non-assessed work) will also be provided during a course unit. 

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Tanya Walsh Unit coordinator
Lucy O'Malley Unit coordinator

Additional notes

For further information please watch this video from our Course Unit Leader.

If you have any questions about the content of this unit, please contact the course unit leader Prof Tanya Walsh via email on or  Lucy O'Malley via email on If you have any other queries please contact the PGT programme administrators via email on

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