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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Medical School : Medical Education

Postgraduate Course: Critical Literature Review (MEED11036)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Medical School CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course affords students the opportunity to undertake and complete an in-depth critical review of literature pertaining to a 'problem' or chosen topic. Throughout the course, the critical literature review process is examined in order that students refine their research topic, while learning to systematically search for, collate, critically analyse, organise, and synthesise literature pertaining to it. To promote reflexivity, the assessment will also have a reflective component.

Through this course, students further develop the knowledge and skills to locate, critically examine and critically interpret evidence. The course supports the development of skills needed to both articulate a knowledge gap and design a strategy to address the gap. Furthermore, flourishing in an increasingly complex health and social care environment, requires developing the knowledge and skills to inform practice continuously by applying best available evidence, as well as dealing with uncertainties.

Online environments are used for the teaching, learning and assessment of all courses on the programme. This includes Microsoft Teams for regular, synchronous conversations, a virtual learning environment with discussion forums for asynchronous dialogue, and other interactive visual, audio, textural and graphical modes of communication.
Course description The course provides students the opportunity to critically examine the methods and processes used to identify, search for, collate, critically analyse, and synthesise literature pertaining to an identified research topic. At the end of the course, students will have the knowledge and skills to design, develop, and report on a critical literature review and to critically reflect on their own learning.

A culture of enthusiasm, optimism, curiosity, critical thinking and critical reflection is encouraged throughout the course. Students are encouraged to share the development of their critical literature review and learn with, and from, each other.

The course also supports students to focus on the practical application of what they learn from the course into their professional practice. Exploring the role and impact of clinical education and the management and leadership requirements to support evidence informed practice forms elements of the course content.

The course is delivered online using live conversations, discussion boards, reflective tasks, online resources, and self-directed and peer learning. A downloadable workbook is provided for students to work through as the course progresses. This also enables those with internet access issues to study offline.

Core themes will be discussed throughout the course and built upon through a progressive learning approach which requires participants to develop and apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Themes that are covered include:

- Defining a research topic for investigation through critical literature review.
- Examining and identifying a methodological framework for critical literature review.
- Designing and implementing a systematic search strategy for retrieving relevant literature.
- Data management, including management of bibliographic records and of data extraction.
- Critically analysing and appraising retrieved research articles.
- Synthesising evidence in relation to the identified problem.
- Writing a structured critical literature review report.
- Critically reflecting on learning in relation to critical literature review.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  100
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 19/09/2022
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Online Activities 60, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 84 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The Formative task
Students are expected to submit a short assignment for feedback only (no marks), mid-course.

The Summative assignment (100%)
A written, structured critical literature review of no more than 3,000 words.
Feedback Feedback is generated on an ongoing basis through interactive live and asynchronous discussion and review of formative assignments.

Tutors will also provide individual, detailed comments on the summative end of course assignment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Investigate a problem through critical literature review.
  2. Design and implement a systematic search following a methodological framework.
  3. Organise and critically analyse retrieved research evidence.
  4. Synthesise research evidence from disparate sources.
  5. Critically reflect on learning in relation to critical literature review.
Reading List
Aromataris E, Munn Z (Editors). JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis. JBI, (2020) Available from

Boland, A., Cherry, M. G., & Dickson, R. (2017). Doing a Systematic Review: A Student's Guide. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. UoE subscription access to ebook:

Booth, A. (2015). EVIDENT Guidance for Reviewing the Evidence: a compendium of methodological literature and websites. Available from:

Sutton, A., Clowes, M., Preston, L. and Booth, A. (2019), Meeting the review family: exploring review types and associated information retrieval requirements. Health Info Libr J, 36: 202-222.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills As an overview, the course enhances learning for an already motivated student group of health and social care professionals who demonstrate the values required of a clinical educator. The incentive of improving care and safety through excellence in education is a key inspiration of the student(s) who enrol on the course.

The content and format of the course further enhances these qualities by developing a culture that is supportive to allow learners to question assumptions around critical literature review that may be limiting their professional development.

Creating a 'safe space' that encourages learners to find ways of overcoming challenges a reality through curiosity, critical thinking and creativity will underpin the course.
Special Arrangements There are limited places to take this course as an outside elective and students not on the Clinical Education programme wishing to enrol, should first contact the Course Secretary to ascertain availability. Email:
KeywordsLiterature review,critical appraisal,evidence synthesis,data management
Course organiserDr Kirstin Stuart James
Tel: (0131)242 6536
Course secretaryMrs Femke Morrison
Tel: (0131) 242 6385
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