MRes/PGDip/PGCert Health and Social Care / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Critical appraisal and evidence synthesis

Course unit fact file
Unit code NURS60015
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Variable teaching patterns
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit will focus on critically evaluating the theory, aims and practicalities of a range of approaches to evidence synthesis including the process of searching, critically appraising, interpreting and synthesizing evidence using a rigorous and systematic approach.  Students will acquire practical skills in applying methods of evidence synthesis as a means of informing health and social care policy, practice and research. 


  • Develop comprehensive understanding of, and skills in, critical appraisal.
  • Develop in-depth understanding of different systematic approaches to evidence synthesis

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning for this unit takes place over one semester. Learning methods utilised involve e-learning via Blackboard. Methods include accessing course material online, interactive demonstrations and activities, and taking part in online discussions with students and tutors.  Directed study components will comprise additional exercises and specified reading related to each on line session.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Critically evaluate the underpinning theory and rationales of different approaches to evidence synthesis.
  • Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and skills in identifying and retrieving appropriate evidence to address a specific research question.
  • Critically assess the quality of evidence using appropriate quality assessment tools.
  • Critically interpret and synthesise quantitative and qualitative evidence in order to inform current practice and future research.  

Intellectual skills

  • Critically appraise research in order to inform current practice and future research.
  • Critically analyse and synthesise evidence from research using different study designs. 
  • Critically evaluate methods of identifying and retrieving the appropriate evidence.
  • Debate critically the nature of evidence and the goal of evidence- based practice. 

Practical skills

  • Design a review protocol to address a specific research question or an aspect of evidence based practice.
  • Critically review the quality of a range of evidence using appropriate quality assessment tools.
  • Conduct a systematic synthesis of evidence in the form of a mini-review conducted as part of an online group exercise.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Critically reflect on their own academic performance and utilise a range of strategies to improve these and overcome any particular difficulties.
  • Further develop and enhance skills in effective communication to a range of audiences in a variety of settings.
  • Demonstrate skills in working collegiately and effectively with others as a member of a team.
  • Effectively utilise information technology / health informatics.
  • Utilise skills in systematic and creative approaches to problem-solving and decision-making in relation to complex issues.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Unit Leads ensure that there are appropriate opportunities for students to receive formative feedback regarding their progression throughout a course unit and the subsequent achievement of the associated learning outcomes. Opportunities for feedback are clearly defined in the course unit guide. This may be through seminar tasks, online quizzes, discussions or the submission of a draft/plan outlining their final summative assessment (essay or case study). Individualised feedback on summative assessments will highlight achievements in students work and areas for further improvement and development related to the assessed topic and general study skills. 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Tutorials 52
Independent study hours
Independent study 98

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sorrel Burden Unit coordinator

Return to course details