Systematic Reviews in Health Sciences

Course info

English or Swedish
Autumn 2017
7,5 hp
Person responsible: 
Professor Maria Larsson
Contact email: 
Registration email: 


Course plan: 

Course Content

The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to systematic review methodology and critical appraisal skills. The focus will be on health sciences research. This course will start with an intensive week of study on campus using a combination of lectures, workshops and seminars. Thereafter the students work on their examination paper, consisting of a protocol for a planned systematic review. The course concludes with an opponent and respondent seminar where the doctoral students discuss their individual examination tasks.
- Formulating a systematic/integrative review question
- Different types of Systematic Reviews e.g. Meta-Analysis, Meta-synthesis, and Mixed Studies Reviews/Integrative Reviews.
- Systematic Review Protocols
- Criteria and steps in different types of systematic/integrative reviews
- Inclusion and exclusion criteria for included studies
- Search strategies and literature searching
- Critical Appraisal/Quality Appraisal
- Data extraction
- Methods for data analysis and synthesis
- Reporting and disseminating systematic/integrative reviews

Course goals

Upon completion of the course the student should be able to
- differentiate and compare different types of systematic reviews
- demonstrate the ability to develop a protocol for a Systematic or integrative Review
- apply a systematic literature search
- identify and evaluate the criteria and steps required in different types of Systematic Reviews
- apply and evaluate critical appraisal/quality appraisal and data extraction methods to the Systematic Review process
- select appropriate methods for data synthesis and meta-analysis
- report and disseminate findings of Systematic Reviews in a relevant format


Qualification requirements are admission to a doctoral programme in Health Sciences or at a minimum a Masters Degree in Health Sciences, or equivalent. The course is primarily for PhD students at Karlstad University, secondly for PhD students admitted to other universities, and thirdly for students with a Master Degree.


The course will be examined by an individual written paper, which will be critically reviewed at an opponent and respondent seminar.

Admission rules

Each syllabus states target group and eligibility, which should be based on the prerequisites necessary to understand and process the content of the course. Syllabi and scheduled course meetings are posted on the course portal web page for the doctoral level, which is also open to the public. 

Doctoral students who wish to take a course should sign up according to instructions on the course portal.  

Admitted students must meet the requirements stated in the syllabus. If there are more prospective students than the teaching capacity allows, priority is given to students as follows: 

  1. If the course is not included in the obligation stated in item 2 below, admission is primarily granted to eligible students at the department offering the course. If the course is offered jointly by several departments at Karlstad university, priority is given, as agreed, by the departments concerned. If the course is commissioned by the Faculty, all students at the Faculty belong to the prioritised group. In the case of cross-faculty courses, all students at Karlstad University belong to the prioritised group. If order of admission must be made in the prioritised group, the student who first signed up according to the requirement above, is given priority. 
  2. If the course is part of a commitment to a national or international graduate school, network or equivalent, priority is given to their participants.  
  3. If there is an agreement on exchange with a subject, department or faculty at another HEI, eligible students from such institutions have second priority 
  4. Other eligible students at Karlstad University have third priority. 
  5. Other eligible students at other HEIs have fourth priority. 

The appointed course convener decides on admission of students to a doctor level course in accordance with the order of priority stated above.  

Upon completion of the course, the course convener issues a course certificate with a proposed grade to the students.  


I kursplan anges målgrupp och behörighet. Behörighet ska utgå från de förkunskaper som behövs för att tillgodogöra sig kursens innehåll.

Kursplaner och planerade kurstillfällen görs tillgängliga på en webbsida: kurstorg för forskarnivå, som även görs tillgänglig externt.

Forskarstuderande som önskar följa en kurs ska anmäla detta enligt anvisning på kurstorget.

Studerande som ges tillträde ska uppfylla de behörighetskrav som anges i kursplanen. Om fler önskar följa kursen än vad undervisningskapaciteten tillåter görs prioritering enligt nedan.

  1. Om inte kursen ingår i ett åtagande enligt punkt 2 nedan ges tillträde i första hand till behöriga studerande vid den institution som anordnar kursen. I det fall kursen anordnas gemensamt av flera institutioner vid Karlstads universitet ges tillträde i första hand på det sätt som berörda institutioner kommit överens om. I det fall kursen är beställd av fakultet ingår alla studerande vid fakulteten i den grupp som ges tillträde i första hand. För kurser som anordnas gemensamt av fakulteterna gäller det alla studerande vid Karlstads universitet. Om prioritering behöver göras inom den grupp som ges tillträde i första hand ges den som först anmält sig enligt ovan företräde.
  2. Om anordnade av en kurs ingår i ett åtagande gentemot nationell eller internationell forskarskola, nätverk eller motsvarande ges dock deltagare därifrån tillträde i första hand.
  3. I det fall det finns överenskommelse om utbyte med ämne, institution eller fakultet vid annat lärosäte ges behöriga studerande därifrån tillträde i andra hand.
  4. I tredje hand ges tillträde till övriga behöriga studerande vid Karlstads universitet.
  5. I fjärde hand ges tillträde till övriga behöriga studerande vid andra lärosäten.

Den som institutionen utsett som kursansvarig beslutar om vilka som får delta i en kurs på forskarnivå, i enlighet med prioritetsordningen ovan. 

Efter genomförd kurs och prov lämnar kursansvarig ett intyg med förslag på betyg till kursdeltagarna.