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Unit of study_

CLTR5000: Critical Appraisal of Evidence

Semester 1, 2021 [Online] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The candidate will develop the skills necessary to synthesize evidence both in preparation for conducting a trial and how to incorporate trial results into existing evidence. This will include being able to conduct a systematic review of the literature, including understanding how to appropriately assess evidence. The principles of meta-analysis to combine the results of multiple trials will also be examined as well as the interpretation of these results and how they can be used in clinical practice guideline development. As part of the critical appraisal of available evidence, different patient outcomes and the corresponding summary endpoint measures will be examined. Additionally the sources of biases arising from different trial designs and outcome measures will be covered and incorporated as part of the critical appraisal of available evidence (including published papers).

Unit details and rules

Unit code CLTR5000
Academic unit NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Lene Seidler,
Lecturer(s) Lene Seidler,
Tutor(s) Melina Willson,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Quiz 1
See canvas
10% Week 04 See canvas
Assignment Assignment 1
See Canvas
40% Week 09 n/a
Assignment Quiz 2
10% Week 12 N/A
Assignment Assignment 2
40% Week 13 N/A

Assessment summary

This unit will be assessed by the use of two assignments and two quizzes. Each quiz will be worth 10%, while the assignments will be worth 40% each. Please see the study timetable for when these are due. It is a requirement that both assignments be passed to pass this unit.
Assignments will be available 3 weeks before the assignment submission deadline (i.e. you will have 3 weeks to do the assignments). Quizzes will be available 1 week before the quiz submission deadline (i.e. you will have 1 week to do the quizzes).
Your assignment should be uploaded onto Canvas, with your student number as part of the identification: eg 123456_Assignment_1.docx. This is necessary because they are downloaded from Canvas to be marked, so are no longer associated with a particular student ID.
Please note: Assessment deadlines are important. Extensions may be granted for special circumstances. It is the student’s responsibility to discuss arrangements with the course coordinator PRIOR to the release of the assessment material.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

LATE SUBMISSION PENALTY It is expected that unless an application for Special Consideration or Special Arrangements has been approved, students will submit all assessments for a unit of study on the due date specified. If the assessment is completed or submitted within the period of extension, no academic penalty will be applied to that piece of assessment. If an extension is either not sought, not granted or is granted but work is submitted after the extended due date, the late submission of assessment will result in an academic penalty as follows, unless otherwise stated in the course resolutions: Sydney School of Public Health, Unit of Study Outline 2020.docx P a g e | 6 • Late assignments that have not been granted extensions and are of a standard to receive a pass or higher mark will attract a penalty of 5% of the maximum mark per day late including weekend days (e.g. if the assignment is worth 40 marks, the penalty is 2 marks per day late) until the mark reaches 50% of the maximum mark (e.g. 20 marks if the maximum is 40 marks). • Assignments that are not of a pass standard will not have marks deducted and will fail regardless. • Assignments submitted more than 10 days late without prior approval from the unit of study coordinator will not be accepted and will be given a zero (0) mark.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Please select a valid week from the list below See Canvas Individual study (130 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12 LO13 LO14 LO15 LO16 LO17 LO18 LO19

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand why summarising the existing evidence is necessary both before planning, and after conducting, a clinical trial
  • LO2. understand how and why a systematic review is ‘systematic’
  • LO3. understand why we need systematic reviews and how they can be used
  • LO4. understand and identify types of potential biases that can be present in clinical trials, including selection bias, performance bias, attrition bias, detection bias, reporting bias (publication bias, foreign language bias, selective outcome reporting bias, duplication bias, etc)
  • LO5. calculate odds ratios, relative risks, risk differences and number needed to treat
  • LO6. express summary measures in words
  • LO7. understand the difference between absolute and relative effect measures
  • LO8. understand and correctly interpret a 95% confidence interval
  • LO9. calculate means, standard deviations, medians and inter-quartile ranges
  • LO10. apply appropriate measures of effect to different data types
  • LO11. understand how to assess the validity and applicability of evidence, including a critical appraisal of a clinical trial and a critical appraisal of a systematic review
  • LO12. formulate an appropriate research question
  • LO13. create an appropriate search strategy and search to identify potential articles to answer the research question
  • LO14. assess the quality of included trials
  • LO15. extract the required summary data
  • LO16. combine the results of several trials and performing a meta-analysis (including when/why/how to use fixed vs random effects models, subgroup analysis, sensitivity analysis)
  • LO17. interpret the results of a systematic review by understanding forest plots and assessing heterogeneity
  • LO18. understand why results from systematic reviews and large RCTs addressing the same question may differ
  • LO19. Understand how systematic reviews are used in clinical practice guidelines and health technology assessments.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.



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