MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care (Systematic Reviews) | University of Oxford
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The Radcliffe Camera, seen from the Bodleian Quad
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MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care (Systematic Reviews)

About the course

For health professionals seeking an understanding of the importance of systematic reviews in healthcare as well as the practical skills to conduct them.  Training is provided in the fundamental principles of evidence-based healthcare and research design, with more specific training in the conduct of basic and more complex systematic reviews.

This course is designed for health care professionals and researchers seeking to consolidate their understanding and ability in contextualising, carrying out, and applying systematic reviews appropriately in health care settings.

Core modules will introduce the students to the principles of evidence-based health care, as well as the core skills and methods needed for research design and conduct. 2. Further modules will provide students with specific skills in conducting basic systematic reviews, meta-analysis, rapid reviews, and more complex reviews, such as realist reviews, reviews of clinical study reports and diagnostic accuracy reviews.

Teaching is tailored to those with a minimal prior knowledge of systematic reviews and delivered by an experienced team of tutors from the University of Oxford, who actively work to advance the practice of evidence-based health care through the conduct and dissemination of systematic reviews.

The course aims to provide health-care professionals with a structured training in designing, conducting, and interpreting high-quality systematic reviews in health care. 

The course also aims:

  • to introduce the basic concepts and skills of evidence-based health care, including how to formulate a clinical research question, search for evidence, critically appraise evidence for sources of bias, and apply evidence to health care settings
  • to describe in detail different types of research methods and identify the strengths and weaknesses of different study designs.

Students are expected to:

  • learn how to design a systematic review research protocol
  • gain a more detailed understanding of the process involved in conducting a systematic review
  • develop the skills to conduct, report and update a systematic review
  • gain a familiarity with basic and advanced techniques for the analysis of quantitative systematic review data: meta-analysis, meta-regression, network meta-analysis, diagnostic meta-analysis, individual patient data meta-analysis
  • gain an understanding of and reasons for more complex systematic reviews in health care, such as realist reviews, reviews of clinical study reports, prognostic reviews, and reviews of complex interventions
  • explore new paradigms in systematic reviews and evidence synthesis
  • gain sufficient training to conduct systematic reviews independently.

Compared with the MSc in EBHC, this degree will suit those with a particular interest in and requirement for training in the conduct of systematic reviews relevant to evidence-based health care.

This is a joint course offered between the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and the Department for Continuing Education's Continuing Professional Development Centre. The programme works in collaboration with the renowned Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine in Oxford.

This course has teachers and contributors who are internationally recognised leaders in the field of evidence-based practice and teaching. The flexible structure of the course has been devised to fit with the structure of specialist training and to accommodate student choice.

Assessment for each module will be based on a written assignment of not more than 4,000 words. The dissertation will be on a topic chosen in consultation with your supervisor and the course director and should not normally exceed 15,000 words.

Graduate destinations

Most part-time students starting this course are already in full-time employment. The MSc offers health care professionals opportunities to enhance their working lives by:

  • updating and improving their clinical practice
  • facilitating effective and timely decision making in health care
  • identifying and applying research critically to improve their own and others’ practice
  • disseminating and translating high quality evidence for patient and public benefit
  • opening up new career opportunities.

Past students have also gone on to study for the part-time DPhil in Evidence-Based Health Care and all graduates are invited to be part of an international alumni network where success is shared and new initiatives are supported.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in any subject.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

Successful completion of a professional training course or professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field may also be considered.

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

References outlining academic potential and suitability to study for the intended course are secured before discussion with the applicant takes place. An interview will be arranged for all of those who appear to fulfil the basic requirements for entry to the course. This will be conducted by either telephone, face-to-face or Skype and there will be a minimum of two interviewers. Applications may be rejected without further direct contact with the applicant.  


Publications are not expected.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Successful applicants should:

  • have professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field 
  • identify a work based problem for which they will be seeking evidence 
  • be able to combine intensive classroom learning with the application of the principles and practices of evidence-based health care within the workplace 
  • 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.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and/or the Department for Continuing Education to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and/or the Department for Continuing Education and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and/or the Department for Continuing Education.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.


The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals. 

The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wifi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.

The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.

The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment. 

Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.

The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students. 


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A range of scholarships are available to students on the programmes offered by the department, along with bursary funds to assist students on low incomes. Full information on these opportunities can be found on the departmental funding pages.


Modular course fees

The fees for this course are charged on a modular basis. You will pay an annual course fee and an additional fee for each module studied. A minimum of two annual course fees are payable for this course. If this course includes a dissertation, three module fees will be charged for the dissertation.

Fees for the 2017-18 academic year

Fee status

Annual course fee

Fee per module

Total estimated fees

(including Islands)
£5,910£1,795Please see the department’s website for further details

The fees shown above include college fees. For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

For more information about tuition fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

This course has residential sessions in Oxford. You will need to meet your travel and accommodation costs in attending these sessions.  Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page. If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.


The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care (Systematic Reviews):

How to apply

You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.


A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Personal statement:
One page

Your statement should outline your objectives in attending the course and your reasons for seeking to register. There is no specific word limit, and there are no restrictions on font size or line spacing, although the document should be clearly legible and written in English.

This will be assessed for:

  • a demonstrable interest in evidence-based health care
  • the motivation and capacity to complete the course
  • a clear and well-argued understanding of the benefits of the course to the candidate’s current employment situation and future prospects
  • prior academic achievement in a health-related discipline at undergraduate or master’s level, or successful completion of a professional training course or professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field.

You will be expected to demonstrate an approach to your study which includes demonstrable skills of critical analysis, wide contextual knowledge and the ability to manage your own time.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic and/or professional

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

It is acceptable to submit professional references but personal references cannot be accepted.

Your references will support academic potential and suitability to study for your intended course.