Evidence-Based Diagnosis and Screening

Course summary

Evidence-Based Diagnosis and Screening


Evaluating and interpreting the evidence for diagnostic tests

This module will teach students how to critically appraise and apply the best evidence on diagnostic tests. They will learn how to evaluate and interpret the diagnostic accuracy of tests and procedures in different settings. They will also learn how the evidence can inform screening and monitoring programmes.

The last date for receipt of complete applications is 5pm Friday 12th January 2018. Regrettably, late applications cannot be accepted.


The overall aims of this module are to enable students to;


  • Understand the different purposes for doing tests, and the appropriate means to evaluate tests for those purposes
  • Be able to formulate focused questions for different diagnostic problems
  • Be able to describe the optimal study design to carry out clinical research for the investigation of those questions
  • Be able to search effectively for papers for different types of diagnostic questions
  • Be able to appraise diagnostic accuracy studies
  • Have an understanding of reporting standards for diagnostic test studies
  • Know how to appraise systematic reviews of diagnostic studies
  • Be able to describe different forms of design-related biases in diagnostic studies
  • Be able to understand and calculate various measures of diagnostic accuracy, including sensitivity and specificity and positive and negative likelihood ratio
  • Understand how information from multiple diagnostic tests can be evaluated simultaneously
  • Understand and be able to determine a basic sample size calculation for a simple diagnostic study
  • Have an understanding of how to present results of diagnostic test studies visually and graphically
  • Understand how results of research studies influence clinical decisions
  • Understand how results of diagnostic tests should be communicated to clinicians
  • Have an understanding of the adoption of diagnostic test services into clinical practice
  • Understand the pitfalls and problems of screening programmes
  • Understand the interplay of diagnosis and monitoring in clinical practice


Core Reading

  • Diagnostic tests toolkit. By Thompson M, Van den Bruel A. Wiley Blackwell 2011

Comments from previous participants:

"Good pace, good practice, good examples, good audience engagement."

Programme details

This module is run over an eight week cycle where the first week is spent working on introductory activities using a Virtual Learning Environment, the second week is spent in Oxford for the face to face teaching week (this takes place on the dates advertised), there are then four Post-Oxford activities (delivered through the VLE) which are designed to help you write your assignment. You then have a week of personal study and you will be required to submit your assignment electronically the following week (usually on a Tuesday at 14:00 UK Local Time).


Accommodation is available at the Rewley House Residential Centre, within the Department for Continuing Education, in central Oxford. The comfortable, en-suite, study-bedrooms have been rated as 4-Star Campus accommodation under the Quality In Tourism scheme, and come with tea- and coffee-making facilities, free Wi-Fi access and Freeview TV. Guests can take advantage of the excellent dining facilities and common room bar, where they may relax and network with others on the programme.

IT requirements

Please ensure that you have access to a computer that meets the specifications detailed on our technical support page.


Short Course in Health Sciences: £2195.00
Students enrolled on MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care: £1795.00
Students enrolled on Postgraduate Cert in Health Research: £1795.00
Students enrolled on Postgraduate Dip in Health Research: £1795.00


Details of funding opportunities, including grants, bursaries, loans, scholarships and benefit information are available on our financial assistance page.



If you are an employee of the University of Oxford and have a valid University staff card you may be eligible to receive a 10% discount on the full stand-alone fee. To take advantage of this offer please submit a scan/photocopy of your staff card along with your application. Your card should be valid for a further six months after attending the course.



Dr Annette Plüddemann

Module Coordinator

Annette Pluddeman is the Director of the Diagnostics Horizon Scan Programme.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be based on submission of a written assignment which should not exceed 4,000 words.

Academic Credit

Those wishing to take the course for credit. The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education offers Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for the course. Participants attending at least 80% of the taught course and successfully completing assessed assignments are eligible to earn credit equivalent to 20 CATS-equivalent points which may be counted towards a postgraduate qualification.

Attendance Only

This includes:

  • attendance at five full days of teaching by world renowned experts in evidence-based health care at the University of Oxford.
  • access to a dedicated online virtual learning environment prior to and during the five taught days
  • access to pre-course reading materials

Applicants registering as "Attendance Only" are not eligible to undertake the academic assignment offered to students on award-bearing programmes of study and will not have access to the University library resources, other than those provided by the Department for Continuing Education. Applicants cannot receive CAT (Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme) points or equivalence. Credit cannot be attributed retrospectively. CAT accreditation is required if you wish for the module to count towards a further qualification in the future.

To participate fully in this course all attendees are expected to hold a first degree in a health related subject and at least two years professional work experience in health care.

A Certificate of Completion is issued at the end of the course.

"Attendance Only" applicants who subsequently wish to register for academic credit and complete the assignment are required to submit additional information, which must be received 1 calendar month in advance of the module start date. Please contact us for more information.

Please contact cpdhealth@conted.ox.ac.uk if you have any questions.


We strongly recommend that you download and save files before completing to ensure that all your changes are saved.

This course requires you to complete the application form and submit along with a copy of your CV. If you are applying to take this course for academic credit you will also need to complete section two of the reference form and forward it to your referee for completion. Please note that if you are not applying to take the course for academic credit then you do not need to submit a reference.

Please ensure you read the guidance notes before completing the application form, as any errors resulting from failure to do so may delay your application.

Selection criteria

Admissions Criteria:
To apply for the course you should:


  • be a graduate or have successfully completed a professional training course
  • have professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field
  • be able to combine intensive classroom learning with the application of the principles and practices of evidence-based health care within the work place
  • have a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications (for communications with course members, course team and administration)
  • show evidence of the ability to commit time to study and an employer's commitment to make time available to study, complete course work and attend course and university events and modules.