MSc in Evidence-based Healthcare (Distance Learning)

The MSc in Evidence-based Healthcare  is designed to facilitate optimal patient care; students create and compile best available evidence for individual aspects of peri-operative care, and learn to  independently carry out systematic reviews to determine best practice. Evidence Based Healthcare Logo

"...In the foreseeable future, robot systems that require no human instruction most likely will be developed to assist with certain surgical procedures..." said lead researcher Kurinchi Gurusamy, who works at the University Department of Surgery at the Royal Free Hospital, London (Science Daily).

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The part-time MSc is ideally suited for busy healthcare professionals wishing to improve their healthcare related decision making skills to allow career progression, to formulate guidelines, and to determine local and national healthcare policies.

Programme aims

The programme is delivered online in the form of presentations supplemented with online discussions and practical work.

Assessment is through coursework, written examination and the research project.

For the MSc, students will complete 8 modules (4 compulsory modules and 4 optional modules) along with the project.
People unable to commit to an MSc can register for a certificate which can be upgraded to a post-graduate diploma or an MSc.

* You do not need to be based in the UK to take this course. Students should however be aware that they must be able to attend a written examination for one compulsory module at a UCL recognised examination centre, which are present all over the world (an extra charge up to £250 will be payable for examination centre and administrative costs).It is offered in a modular format as full time (1 year) and as part time (2 to 4 years).

 Students completing this course will be able to perform the following:
1.    Locate the best available evidence.
2.    Critically appraise the literature.
3.    Perform systematic reviews.
4.    Develop guidelines.
5.    Make clinical decisions based on best available evidence.
6.    Understand the principles of economic analysis.
7.    Perform health economic analysis using available software.

See the 'course structure' tab for more details.

Here are a few examples of clinical situations where the skills gained in this course can be used:

  • Is smoking cessation advice useful?
  • Do fruits and vegetables prevent cancer?
  • Is vaccinating adolescent girls against human papilloma virus useful in preventing cervical cancer? ...

Duration of Programme

The method of delivery for the course is flexible depending upon the time that you are able to commit to this course.

Full Time: 1 year

Part-time: 2 to 4 years 

Entry Requirements

  • MBBS or Bachelor’s degree in healthcare related subjects.
  • Knowledge of English - IELTS – 6.5 or above or equivalent (with a minimum of 6.0 in each of the subtests)

For further information please visit the Admissions Web pages.

Application process:

You may choose to apply online or download application materials:


Please send an email to Michele Pannaman: m.pannaman@ucl.ac.uk  once the application is completed.

Application closing date:

The closing date for applications is 31st July 2013.

More Information
If you have further questions
please contact the teaching administrator Nicole MacDougall: n.macdougall@ucl.ac.uk or the course organiser, Mr Gurusamy,  for any subject-related issues: k.gurusamy@ucl.ac.uk

Project Module

The project module of this course will be a systematic review (currently considered the best level of research evidence) with or without an economic analysis. This is likely to result in peer reviewed publication(s).

For those who are unable to commit to a full MSc, a post-graduate diploma or a certificate are suitable alternatives:

  • For the MSc, the students will complete 8 modules (4 compulsory modules and 4 optional modules) along with the project.
  • For a diploma, the students will complete 8 modules (4 compulsory modules and 4 optional modules).
  • For a certificate, the students will complete 4 modules (3 compulsory modules and 1 optional module).

There is no ‘Project’ module for a diploma or certificate.


Each module will be of 150 hours duration, which includes the time for online lectures, practical implementation of the content of lectures, discussions, coursework, self-study including exam preparation, and the exams.

There will be web based tutorials/ seminars to discuss the contents of the online lectures. Students are expected to have studied the lecture material before participating in the webinars. There will be a webinar for every 2 lectures of a module. The webinar will be conducted usually (but not exclusively) on a Saturday. There will be approximately 6 webinars per module. 

* Students should however be aware that they must be able to attend a written examination for one compulsory module at a UCL recognised examination centre, which are present all over the world (an extra charge up to £250 will be payable for examination centre and administrative costs).

Please contact the course administrator for further details regarding your nearest exam centre.

Compulsory modules:

Module 1: Introduction to Research Methods for Evidence-based Healthcare

1. Searching for evidence (notions of evidence and locating the evidence). 2. Understanding different types of data.

3. Understanding different types of distribution and the summary measures to represent them.

4. Understanding different measures of effect and association (risk ratio, odds ratio, risk difference, number needed to treat, hazard ratio).

5. Introducing different types of study design (randomized controlled trials, observational studies).

6. Introducing different types of bias in medical studies.

7. Introducing confounding and effect modification in biomedical studies.

8. Identifying causation (including the hierarchy of different study designs in identifying causation).

Mode of assessment: 2 hours exam with multiple choice questions and short answers. Attendance at UCL or at another UCL approved international centre required for exams.

Module 2: Evaluating the Quality of Evidence

1. Sources of bias and methods employed to decrease the sources of bias (includes explanation of the different study designs).

2. Reporting of randomized controlled trials.

3. Bias risk assessment in randomized controlled trials.

4. Bias risk assessment in observational studies.

5. Bias risk assessment in systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials of interventions.

6. Bias risk assessment in systematic reviews of diagnostic accuracy studies.

7. Bias risk assessment in other study designs and outcomes.

8. Surrogate outcomes – use and misuse.

 Mode of assessment: Coursework.

Module 3: Systematic reviews of intervention (Part 1)

1. Drafting the research question.

2. Developing the criteria for inclusion of studies.

3. Developing the search strategy.

4. Selecting the studies for inclusion.

5. Collection of data.

 Mode of assessment: Coursework.

Module 4: Systematic reviews of intervention (Part 2)

1. Analyzing the data.

2. Exploring heterogeneity.

3. Assess reporting bias.

4. Interpret the results.

5. Discuss the results in a systematic fashion.

6. Arrive at appropriate conclusions.

 Mode of assessment: Coursework.

Optional modules:

Module 5: Systematic reviews of observational studies, diagnostic studies, and prognostic studies

1. Search filters for studies of various designs.

2. Statistical methods.

3. Discussion.

 Mode of assessment: Coursework.

Module 6: Application of Evidence in Clinical Practice

1. Grading the level of recommendation.

2. Developing guidelines.

3. Economic analysis (including methodology used by National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence).

4. Application of evidence for an individual patient (includes application of post-test probability of diagnostic tests, availability of resources, assessment of suitability of a patient for an intervention based on fitness for procedure and prognosis, and patient choice).

5. Communication of evidence to the patients (use of different methods of presentation of evidence to the layperson).

Mode of assessment: Coursework.

Module 7: Bias risk in basic research

1. Choice of model for basic research.

2. Accuracy.

3. Precision.

4. Sampling error.

5. Measurement error.

6. Sources of bias in molecular techniques and cell culture work.

Mode of assessment: Coursework.

Module 8: Research Methodologies

1. Scientific writing.

2. Critical thinking.

3. Statistics.

4. Presentation skills.

Mode of assessment: MCQ and practical SPSS questions (2 hours) available online (can be completed from home or work computer).

Project/ Dissertation

Systematic review and/or economic health analysis

Click on the green link below to view the course content (pdf)

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The University

The Thomson Scientific Citation Index shows that UCL is the second most productive and the third most highly cited European university, as well as the UK University most-cited by health researchers.

The team

This course is taught by specialists in evidence-based medicine. The tutors of the systematic review modules of this course lead the UK Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group satellite centre and have published approximately 50 Cochrane reviews. They have also guided other doctors to complete Cochrane reviews. The course organisers have recently been awarded a major programme grant by the UK Government to prepare Cochrane reviews.  The statistical modules will be taught by epidemiologists from UCL. Staff of the Royal Free Hospital Medical Library, who provided information specialist support for the NHS Evidence in Gastroenterology & Liver Diseases and Neurological Conditions, will provide support for the course.

Programme conveners

Mr Kurinchi Gurusamy k.gurusamy@ucl.ac.uk  
Prof. Brian Davidson b.davidson@ucl.ac.uk  

Main contact: Mr Kurinchi Gurusamy