Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Education


Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop knowledge and understanding in the design, conduct and reporting of systematic reviews for use in education and social science topic areas
  • To develop skills for conducting systematic reviews
  • To develop skills for summarising review evidence


  • • A growing body of research evidence and readily available technology has provided opportunities for researchers to conduct review-based inquiries adopting scientific principles and methods. This now demands researchers to be able to search and synthesise research knowledge, adopting scientific principles of systematic, rigorous, and unbiased research. The Systematic Reviews module will introduce knowledge, understanding and skills that will enable students to overview the existing research knowledge in their own topic areas of interest. This module will be a stage advanced from conducting an ordinary literature review. Adopting a systematic approach of searching, synthesising, evaluating, and reporting existing research evidence will give students understanding of rigorous research designs and how these could be adopted for their own primary research projects.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of this module, students will acquire knowledge and understanding of:
  • Research designs and their importance in research projects
  • Types of reviews in relation to research designs (e.g. mixed methods review, narrative review, scoping review etc.)
  • High quality research and principles of evaluating research
  • Bias in research studies
  • Criteria of judging research
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Apply methods for systematic searches of existing studies
  • Establish criteria for selecting and screening studies
  • Apply procedures to control for bias
  • Assess different kinds of bias in systematic reviews, e.g, publication bias
  • Extract data from studies
  • Evaluate studies based on criteria for rigorous research
  • Judge the quality of evidence
  • Synthesise and report the process and findings of a review
  • Develop summaries of existing reviews
Key Skills:
  • Demonstrate an ability to search databases according to research questions
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically judge and evaluate research
  • Extract data for analysis
  • Synthesise findings of review
  • Be able to summarisees the reviews
  • Be able to report findings from reviews

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures enable the theory and concepts to be considered. Seminar work enables students to develop their understanding of ideas and consider them in a range of professionally relevant contexts. Activities in seminars include a variety of active learning approaches including discussion, group work, presentations, question and answer sessions, individual tasks.
  • Independent learning is an important part of the module. Lectures and seminar teaching will be supported by Study Guide resources. The Study Guide includes preparation for, and follow up to, formal taught activities.
  • Preparation for the assignment involves student engagement in wider reading and critical reflection of research evidence.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 10 Weekly 2 Hours 20
Semianrs 10 Weekly 1 Hour 10
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 80%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Protocol 4,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Presentation Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Presentation 15 minutes (10 minutes presentation plus 5 minute Q&A) 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

• Students will have an opportunity for formative assessment and feedback through development of a systematic review protocol in their topic area of interest. Formative feedback will be provided after the presentation. In the T&L handbook we will describe discretionary and mandatory elements of the presentation according to which individual student performance will be evaluated. Staff will give formative feedback and can be contacted for individual help.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University