Complex Reviews


Developing a better understanding of the broader forms of evidence synthesis

Systematic reviews and meta-analysis play a major part in contributing to the pool of best available evidence in healthcare. Moreover, their results underpin national and international guidance.  Because of their importance, evidence synthesis methodology continues to evolve.

This module will focus on providing an understanding of the broader forms of evidence synthesis, and their methods, with a particular focus on complex reviews. Such reviews include diagnostic test accuracy reviews, clinical study reports, individual participant data (IPD), reviews of non-randomised data, and qualitative reviews. Students attending  this course will  gain insight into some of these more complex forms of evidence synthesis, as well as explore emerging forms of synthesis and learn how to incorporate these methods into a review protocol.

A basic understanding of systematic reviews is advantageous, but not essential.

Aims of the module

By the end of the course the aim is that students will be able to:

  • Recognise the need for the broader forms of evidence synthesis in healthcare

  • Develop the  skills needed to develop more advanced search strategies

  • Understand  the methods needed to conduct diagnostic test accuracy reviews

  • Recognise the need and value of individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis

  • Be familiar with clinical study reports, regulatory data  and the challenges of conducting reviews of such data

  • Understand the methods involved with conducting reviews of non randomised data

  • Become familiar with qualitative and mixed methods reviews

  • Explore further emerging forms of evidence synthesis


This module is a compulsory module of the MSc in EBHC Systematic Reviews and an optional module for the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care and MSc in EBHC Medical Statistics.

The last date for receipt of complete applications is 5pm Friday 25th October 2024. Regrettably, late applications cannot be accepted.


Programme details

This module is run over an eight week cycle where the first week is spent working on introductory activities using a Virtual Learning Environment, the second week is a full week of online teaching (this takes place on the dates advertised), there are then four Post-Oxford activities (delivered through the VLE) which are designed to help you write your assignment. You then have a week of personal study and you will be required to submit your assignment electronically the following week (usually on a Tuesday at 14:00 UK Local Time).



Description Costs
New students enrolled on MSc in EBHC £2570.00
Short Course in Health Sciences £3175.00


Details of funding opportunities, including grants, bursaries, loans, scholarships and benefit information are available on our financial assistance page.


If you are an employee of the University of Oxford and have a valid University staff card you may be eligible to receive a 10% discount on the full stand-alone fee. To take advantages of this offer please submit a scan/photocopy of your staff card along with your application. Your card should be valid for a further six months after attending the course.


Prof Kamal Mahtani

Module Coordinator

Kamal Mahtani is a GP Clinical Scientist, Director of the MSc in EBHC Systematic Reviews and Co-Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine

Assessment methods

Assessment will be based on submission of a written assignment which should not exceed 4,000 words.

Academic Credit

Applicants may take this course for academic credit. The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education offers Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for this course. Participants attending at least 80% of the taught course and successfully completing assessed assignments are eligible to earn credit equivalent to 20 CATS points which may be counted towards a postgraduate qualification.

Applicants can choose not to take the course for academic credit and will therefore not be eligible to undertake the academic assignment offered to students taking the course for credit. Applicants cannot receive CATS (Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme) points or equivalence. Credit cannot be attributed retrospectively. CATS accreditation is required if you wish for the course to count towards a further qualification in the future.

A Certificate of Completion is issued at the end of the course.

Applicants registered to attend ‘not for credit’ who subsequently wish to register for academic credit and complete the assignment are required to submit additional information, which must be received one calendar month in advance of the course start date. Please contact us for more details.

Please contact if you have any questions.


This course requires you to complete the application form and to attach a copy of your CV. If you are applying to take this course for academic credit you will also be required to provide a reference. Please note that if you are not applying to take the course for academic credit then you do not need to submit a reference.

Please ensure you read the guidance notes which appear when you click on the symbols as you progress through the application form, as any errors resulting from failure to do so may delay your application.

Selection criteria

Admissions Criteria:
To apply for the course you should:

  • be a graduate or have successfully completed a professional training course
  • have professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field
  • be able to combine intensive classroom learning with the application of the principles and practices of evidence-based health care within the work place
  • have a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications (for communications with course members, course team and administration)
  • show evidence of the ability to commit time to study and an employer's commitment to make time available to study, complete course work and attend course and university events and modules.

IT requirements

Please ensure that you have access to a computer that meets the specifications detailed on our technical support page.