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A short online course equipping you with vital skills in extracting, assessing and using evidence gained in health research.

Learn from leading health researchers and clinicians advising government on national policy, at a university with a distinguished track record in putting health research into practice.

Gain a strong career advantage as a researcher or health professionals, learning at your own pace, in any location, and fitting your studies around your work and personal commitments.


A short course designed to give you a great foundation in the fundamental understanding and application of evidence-based health at an individual and population level, focusing on the use of systematic reviews to synthesise evidence, as well as methods to translate and implement evidence to inform health practice and policy.

You’ll learn how to systematically review papers and other literature to source your evidence, how to quality assess and synthesise your evidence using different tools, and how to implement your results with an individual patient, or in the form of guidelines for a service provider or other organisation, including a whole population at national level.

This short course is ideal for you as a graduate in health sciences and perhaps considering a future in research, or as a practising researcher looking to develop your career. Practising health professionals will gain a strong professional advantage through in-depth understanding of research and how it influences their practice, and gain skills in systematic reviewing, synthesising and using guidelines, boosting career options and prospects and growing particular interests.

You’ll learn from leading health researchers and clinical academics working daily on systematic reviews of highly topical issues commissioned by national bodies including NICE, and often leading government-initiated reviews and development of guidelines.

You can study this credit-bearing online short course standalone, or use this as a taster to continue your professional development with a PgCert in Research Methods for Health or progress to a full Master in Public Health (MPH) programme. This programme is also available fully online, for you to study at your own pace, at any location, and fitting around your work and personal commitments.

Why Aberdeen for this course?

The combination of international profile, long experience, quality of expertise, track record in research and teaching plus our close links with the NHS on the Foresterhill health campus, makes Aberdeen the obvious provider of first-class education in all areas of health. Our region boasts the highest concentration of health and life scientists anywhere in Europe.

Medicine and health at Aberdeen enjoys a great reputation for transferring research into practice.  We’re immensely proud of our leading pioneers in nutrition, women’s health, infection control, clinical scanning and many other medical and health areas which transformed lives and medical practice throughout the world.

The last national assessment of the research strength of all UK universities ranked research in Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care at the University of Aberdeen to be top in Scotland. Over three-quarters of Aberdeen research was deemed ‘world-class’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the national Research Excellence Framework (2014).

Your course is designed and tutored by experts at the University’s Institute of Applied Health Sciences, a large multidisciplinary grouping of University and NHS researchers who work to promote health and healthcare delivery, influencing government and health service policy and frequently chairing national panels and reviews.

You can study this credit-bearing online short course standalone, or use your credits to continue your professional development with a PgCert in Research Methods for Health or progress to a full online Master in Public Health (MPH) programme.  

What you'll study

You’ll learn the skills of sourcing and translating evidence all the way through to putting it into practice with an individual patient, or with a whole population through national guidelines.

In the first half of your course you’ll learn how to carry out a systematic review, develop the skills to search literature, identify evidence, quality assess and extract data, and synthesise this to a form which can be used to shape health policy and practice at the level of organisations and individual clinical encounters.

The second half will help you format your synthesised evidence as guidelines, and explore how to implement them, considering at the same time the possible barriers and facilitators.

How you'll study

This online, 12-week distance-learning short course offers all the flexibility and convenience to study when, where and how you choose, and to fit your learning around your location, employment and personal commitments.

Our online courses are delivered through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as self-contained units of learning taught and assessed to the same quality as our degree programmes, and developed specifically for an online audience.

We aim to create an international online classroom and student community which enables you to enjoy the same learning experience as students on our full degree programmes.

You’ll be guided through your programme with videos and podcasts, including interviews with clinicians, tutorials with powerpoint and audio, reading material, online discussion boards with your classmates, and plenty of support from your tutors.

We expect you to study up to 15 hours a week on the online material and reading. The first week of your 12-week course will be pre-course reading, and your final week will be for revision prior to your final assessment.


There are three parts to your assessment:

  1. An exercise to demonstrate your skills in sourcing evidence, extracting and assessing the quality of data, and synthesising your evidence (40% of your mark).
  2. You will select a review or guideline from a limited choice and provide a structured description of how you would implement the evidence at an individual and/or population level (30% of your mark).
  3. A final week ‘open book’ one-hour, short answer assessment covering material from the whole course (30% of your mark).

Entry Requirements

A second-class honours degree in Biological Sciences or Life Sciences, or equivalent research or field experience. Minimum 2.2, 60% or GPA 2.4/4 or 3.0/5 overall.

In exceptional circumstances applicants without this qualification may be admitted at the discretion of the course co-ordinator subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of experience, appropriate to the field of study.

Please check the In My Country pages to find out if your degree is equivalent.

All students entering the University, including online courses, must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study our programmes effectively. Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. For details of our pre-sessional English courses see our Language Centre website.