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.
The course aims to provide 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 on the course will:
- 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 meta-synthesis
- explore new paradigms in systematic reviews and evidence synthesis
- gain sufficient training to conduct systematic reviews independently.
Compared with the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care, 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. 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 systematic reviews. The flexible structure of the course has been devised to fit with the structure of specialist training and to accommodate student choice.
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 MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care (Systematic Reviews) is a part-time course. There are four compulsory modules, two option modules and a dissertation, which will take the form of a systematic review.
- The Practice of Evidence-Based Health Care
- Systematic Reviews
- Complex Reviews
Option Modules currently available (two must be chosen):
- Introduction to Study Design and Research Methods
- Realist Reviews and Realist Evaluation
- Essential Medical Statistics
- Qualitative and Mixed Methods Systematic Reviews
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. Further modules will provide students with specific skills in conducting basic systematic reviews, meta-analysis and broader forms of evidence synthesis, such as realist reviews, reviews of clinical study reports and diagnostic accuracy reviews.
The majority of modules are run over either an eight, or fifteen week learning cycle. Most modules are either delivered fully online or in a blended format, however, some modules are only delivered with a blended format that includes a 5 day attendance in Oxford, and some are only run entirely online. In any given year, not all delivery formats for a module may be available.
Blended format: an initial period of self-directed study is spent on introductory activities using a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This is followed by a week spent in Oxford for supported face-to-face teaching, and then a further period of Post-Oxford activities (a mixture of self-directed and supported distance learning also delivered through the VLE). The final week of each module is for self-directed personal study, shortly followed by the assignment submission.
Fully online format: These are delivered through the VLE with the first week allocated to self-directed introductory activities. There is then either:
- a number of units to work through which are released week by week. Each unit includes a mixture of supported and self-directed learning with discussion forums, tasks and activities. Students then have five weeks of self-directed personal study with use of a revision forum and the requirement to submit an assignment electronically the following week. Courses usually run over a 15 week period.
- an intensive week of 5 consecutive days of synchronous and asynchronous teaching sessions, and then a further period of activities (A mixture of self-directed and supported distance learning also delivered through the VLE). The final week of each module is for self-directed personal study, shortly followed by the assignment submission. Courses usually run over an 8 week period. Modules are spaced out throughout the academic year, allowing a choice of options to be taken over the two to four years students attend the course. Not all modules are guaranteed to run every year. Further details about the course and modules can be found on the course page, on the Department for Continuing Education Website (See Further Information and Enquiries).
Further details about the course and modules can be found on the course page, on the Department for Continuing Education Website (See Further Information and Enquiries).
Part-time attendance details
As a part-time student, you will be required to attend a minimum of two modules (one of which must be a compulsory module) ‘in person’ in Oxford. Each ‘in person’ module requires you to attend a week (5 days) in Oxford for supported face to face teaching. Your other 4 modules can be made up of a mix of ‘in person’, or fully online modules. For additional note: All students are required to attend a minimum of one module in each academic year on course. This can either be ‘in person’ or fully online.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course 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. Students are usually expected to either meet, or contact their supervisor at least once per month.
Assessment for each module will be based on a written assignment. The dissertation will be on a topic chosen in consultation with your supervisor and the course director.
Students typically submit a ‘Notification of Provisional Title’, a calendar year before their dissertation submission date. A full draft is usually submitted two months prior to the submission deadline. The final submission is usually due on the last working day of September, for the given year of completion.
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.
Changes to this course and your supervision
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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Other courses you may wish to consider
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
Courses suggested by the lead department
Evidence-Based Health Care MSc
Evidence-Based Health Care (Medical Statistics) MSc
Evidence-Based Health Care (Teaching and Education) MSc
Evidence-Based Health Care DPhil
Primary Health Care DPhil
Health Research PGDip
Health Research PGCert
Teaching Evidence-Based Health Care PGCert
Qualitative Health Research Methods PGCert
Surgical Science and Practice MSc
Experimental Therapeutics MSc
Paediatric Infectious Diseases MSc
Paediatric Infectious Diseases PGDip
All graduate courses in this area offered by the Department for Continuing Education
All graduate courses offered by the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences
Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in any subject.
Successful completion of a professional training course or professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field may also be considered.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
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.
Publications are not expected.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not normally held for candidates whose application provides evidence fulfilling all the entry requirements.
Interviews may be held with candidates whose application requires clarification or further information in relation to one or more aspect of the entry requirements, such as those identified below as other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience.
References outlining academic potential and suitability to study for the intended course are secured before discussion with the applicant takes place. 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.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
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. Wi-Fi 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 department's 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.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
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 2023-24 academic year
Annual Course Fee
Fee per module
Total estimated fees
|Home||£7,695||£2,340||Please see the department’s website for further details|
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees and Funding section of this website, which includes detailed fee status 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.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
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.
All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges.
The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care (Systematic Reviews):
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. We recommend that you submit your application well in advance - two or three weeks earlier.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Contacting the department
You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
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.
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.
A maximum of 500 words
Your statement should outline your objectives in attending the course and your reasons for seeking to register. There are no restrictions on font size or line spacing, although the document should be clearly legible and written in English.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
Please indicate in your statement why you have chosen this MSc in EBHC with a focus on systematic reviews in particular.
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.