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Systematic Reviews in Intervention Research

Systematic reviews play a crucial role in this era of Evidence-Based Medicine and clinical guidelines. Systematic reviews use a systematic and transparent approach to identify all relevant articles, appraise the risk of bias, examine sources of variation, and, if appropriate, meta-analyse the results of the primary studies.

This course will offer a mix of lectures and practicals that will help the student to perform all of these steps in practice. In addition, specific challenges to systematic reviews and new developments will be highlighted. Systematic Reviews in Intervention Research one of the online medical courses that are part of MSc Epidemiology Postgraduate Online; the online MSc program in Epidemiology offered by Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht, MSc Epidemiology and Elevate.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Explain the rationale for performing a systematic review
  • List the key steps of a systematic review
  • Formulate a proper review question addressing a therapeutic dilemma
  • Understand the design of a comprehensive and efficient search strategy to identify relevant RCT’s in electronic bibliographic databases
  • Explain the main types of bias in a therapeutic study
  • Assess primary studies (RCT) for their risk of bias and report these findings
  • Explain the difference between fixed and random effects approach and their assumptions
  • Perform & interpret the findings of a meta-analysis (fixed & random approach)
  • Interpret the different measures of heterogeneity
  • Interpret the results of a meta-regression model
  • List and explain the different types of reporting bias
  • Critically appraise systematic reviews


As this is a university course, it is covered by academic accreditation. Upon passing the final exam, you will receive a recognized certificate from Utrecht University and the UMC Utrecht.

Course Deadlines

Please note that you are required to hand in assignments during some of the learning units in this course:

Week 0
Sunday before start date - introduce yourself

Week 1
Thursday – submit review question
Friday – submit critical appraisal
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 1

Week 2
Tuesday – assess critical appraisal
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 2

Week 3
Wednesday – submit Summary of Findings Table
Friday – provide peer feedback on Summary of Findings Table
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 3

Completing all required assignments and meeting the deadlines are requirements to take the final exam.


This course includes a multiple-choice exam, which is the only part of the course that is not online. If you are able and willing to take the exam in Utrecht, the Netherlands, we are available to proctor the exam for you without any costs. If you have to take the exam from a different location, you need a proctor.

This proctor may ask you to pay for their expenses. Please read more about proctoring on our specific webpage. You can find more information about the exam on our website. You are allowed to redo an exam once.

Study Materials

Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Available for free.

Review Manager software (RevMan). Available for free.

Entry Requirements

To enroll in this course, you need:

  • A BSc degree in biomedical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, medicine or veterinary medicine, or a comparable degree
  • Basic knowledge about epidemiology and statistical data analysis. Elevate courses offering this knowledge include Introduction to Epidemiology and Introduction to Statistics
  • Basic understanding of the principles of clinical epidemiology, regarding the design, conduct & analysis of a therapeutic randomized controlled trial.
  • Sufficient proficiency in English reading and writing

Please note
This is an online course, so you need access to an internet connection in order to be able to follow lectures, complete assignments and communicate with fellow participants. The only part of the course that is not online is the final examination.

This course is offered through the MSc Epidemiology program developed by the UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University.

Course is offered by Course101 As part of the following program

Program taught in:
  • English

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This course is Online
Start Date
3 weeks
785 EUR
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