Cambridge MRCPsych Critical Review Course

Designed for MRCPsych Paper B

Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th September 2020

Dr. Paul Wilkinson, University Senior Lecturer and Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at the University of Cambridge, will deliver this weekend course; for obvious public health reasons, this will be delivered online via Zoom. Dr Wilkinson has been running a crash course for the MRCPsych Critical Appraisal exams since 2003.  He has been at the forefront of developing, delivering and training in online teaching since the start of the Covid pandemic, locally and nationally.  This has been within psychiatry but also across all specialties, through organisations such as the Medical Schools Council and the RCPsych Undergraduate Education Forum.

This course will thoroughly prepare candidates for the epidemiology, statistics and research methodology components of the MRCPsych Paper B.  The RCPsych curriculum for Critical Review will be used as a basis for what is taught.  The course will teach General Research Methodology and all specific research types e.g. RCTs, health economics, aetiology, qualitative research etc.  After each mini topic there will be MCQ/ EMQ practice and discussion.  The course will cover all statistical tests that are likely to come up in the exam, e.g. Mann-Whitney, multiple regression, and discuss how to interpret them and answer questions on them.  The statistics will be scattered through the day, presented together with the relevant study design, to keep it in small doses!  Teaching will include essential calculations e.g. NNT, sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratio.  Candidates will have plenty of opportunities to practise these calculations.  The course will conclude with MCQs and EMIQs that test knowledge across study designs e.g. Which is the best statistical test to use in a specific situation?  What type of bias would occur in this situation?  Which is the most appropriate study design?  And finally there will be some practice on the sets of questions that accompany an excerpt from a real research paper.


We shall use a bank of more than 300 questions including MCQs and EMIQs from recent exams, the pilot exams, questions adapted from the old-style exam and questions written by the Cambridge team.  Full handouts (paper and/or online) will be given of questions; answers and explanations; and slides used to teach theoretical material.  Some questions will be sent to candidates before the course, so they can try them in advance if they so wish.


We shall continue to cap the course at a maximum of 20 participants, to allow good discussion – a key strength of this course.  Dr Wilkinson has extensive recent experience of leading interactive teaching on Zoom.  As candidates no longer need to travel, the course has been made longer on  days, which will give us the time to go through more questions.  The course will cost less than normal, however this reduction is not that great as the only cost savings for us are lunch and refreshments.



Fee: £280  (£220 for internal Cambridge MRCPsych course candidates)

We offer a reduced fee of £180 (£140 for internals) for candidates coming to the course on a second occasion.

Contact: Mitchell Brookes-Jones <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>, 01223 868823.





9:30 – 09:45      Registration

09:45 – 12:45    General research methodology

                                    Presentation of results and distributions

                                    Sample selection

                                    Statistical significance and confidence intervals


Problems of statistical tests

Measurement, reliability and validity

12:45 – 1:30      LUNCH

1:30 – 5:00        Treatment studies

            Types of treatment studies

            Sample recruitment

            Treatment allocation

            Carrying out treatment

                                    Measuring outcome

                                    Analysing data

                                                Statistics of comparing two (or more groups)

                                                Number needed to treat

                                                Survival analysis

                                                Dealing with drop-outs (from treatment or analysis)

                                    Special types of treatment studies

                                    Economic analysis



9:30 – 12:30      Epidemiology studies

            Prevalence and incidence

                                    Standardised mortality ratio

Aetiology Studies

                                    Types of study – cohort vs case-control

                                    Relative risk and odds ratio

                                    Appraisal of studies

                                    Adjusting for confounding

                                    Correlational statistics

                                    Multiple regression

Ecological studies

                        Screening studies

                                    Sensitivity and specificity

                                    Positive and negative predictive value

                                    Likelihood ratios

                                    ROC curves


12:30 – 1:15      LUNCH

1:15 – 5:00        Combining studies and meta-analysis

                                    Forest plots

                        Diagnosis studies

Qualitative studies

General MCQs and EMIQs

                        Suggestions for further studying