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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

DSUR5059M Core Epidemiology

10 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Peter Tennant

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisite qualifications

An undergraduate degree in science, social science, or a clinical subject such as medicine or dentistry.

Applicants with other qualifications who can demonstrate recent study success and relevant work experience may also be considered.

English requirements for candidates for whom English is not their first language:
IELTS: 7.0 overall with not less than 6.5 in every skill.
TOEFL: 580 (paper based) and 240 (computer based).
94 TOEFL iBT with minimum scores of 20 in listening, 23 in reading, 23 in speaking and 24 in writing.

This module is not approved as an Elective


The objectives of this module are to:
- introduce epidemiology as the core science underpinning the study of diseases in a population;
- introduce a range of study designs for studying health and disease in populations;
- develop understanding of the hierarchy in the validity of the range of study designs, leading to choosing the most appropriate study design for a research question;
- enable the student to describe and evaluate key measures used in health protection, health promotion, and disease prevention;
- introduce disease causation and explore models and methods for elucidating cause;
- introduce standard statistical methods relevant to the range of study designs;
- develop qualities that are appropriate to their future responsibilities to colleagues and society in general. As such, we aim to develop a professional attitude towards epidemiology;
- provide signposted links to skills that are introduced or developed in this module that contribute to a professional spine.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:
- define the scientific study of disease known as epidemiology;
- describe examples of successes in the study of disease cause using epidemiological methods;
- critically evaluate the role of epidemiology as one of the basic sciences of public health.


By the end of this module the student should be able to:
- define disease causality and distinguish from association;
- establish, from a description of a putative risk factor, whether the cause is necessary or sufficient;
- use causal models, such as 'Rothman's causal pie model', to describe risk factors for disease;
- describe how epidemiological studies can be used to assess the causes of disease and evaluate treatments;
- describe the meaning and application of measures of disease occurrence, mortality, prevalence and risk.

Study design

By the end of this module the student should be able to:
- describe, using examples, the commonly-used epidemiological study designs;
- when presented with a study description, identify the type of design;
- describe the advantages and disadvantages relevant to the main types of study;
- define and use the hierarchy of evidence relating to study design for investigating possible risk factors for disease.

Risk, bias and confounding

By the end of this module the student should be able to:
- define and calculate measures of risk, relative risk, odds, incidence, prevalence and mortality;
- identify confounding in a study;
- identify, and reduce the impact of, sources of bias. This will include selection bias and information bias;
- explain the role of chance, confounding factors and bias in epidemiological studies;
- critically apply attributable risk and fraction.

Transferable skills

By the end of this module the student should be able to:
- access and use web based information to complete formative and summative assessments on-line;
- undertake on-line tasks, posting work and commenting on the work of others;
- give and receive feedback to peers on an issue of medical importance.


The module will be delivered by Dr Graham Law over 10 weeks, as a blend of face-to-face small group work and lectures, vodcasts (audio-visual presentations), online written material, online formative questions, answers and feedback, and an online discussion forum of reading tasks.

The course will cover the following subjects:
Introduction to epidemiology; Causation and models of cause; Hierarchy of evidence in study design; Anecdote, case series; Case registers; Ecological studies; Case-control studies; Cohort studies; Randomised controlled trials; Incidence, prevalence, Mortality; Absolute and relative risk; Odds ratios, Risk ratios; Attributable risk and fraction; Selection bias; Information bias; Confounding.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours40.00
Private study hours48.00
Total Contact hours12.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

The module will exploit staged web-based teaching as follows:

- Comprehensive web-based material covering the basics of the study design and the statistical analysis of these designs.
- A series of reusable learning objects, as online audio-visual presentations, designed to cover in an entertaining way the basics of epidemiology as a science and the details of study design.
- Online formative assessments, delivered using QuestionMark, will assess learning in the students throughout the web-based material and the audio-visual casts.
- Supplementary reading recommended from text books and significant papers will be set.
- Students will be set a weekly reading task and the discussion rooms within the VLE will be used to discuss a question about each article.
- An online discussion forum will allow students and lecturers to discuss questions and answers about the material being covered.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

This will be done in a number of ways:
- Student attendance and contribution to lectures and tutorials
- Access logs for the online material on the VLE. Despite this being self-paced, reasonable aims will be defined for progress with the material.
- Recording and monitoring of progress with online formative questions/answers within QuestionMark.
- Recording and monitoring of progress with online summative questions/answers within QuestionMark.
- Monitoring of weekly contribution to online discussion forum.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
EssayTwo short answers questions 500 words each40.00
Online AssessmentMCQ0.00
Online AssessmentMCQ0.00
Online AssessmentMCQ0.00
Online AssessmentMCQ30.00
Online AssessmentMCQ30.00
Online AssessmentMCQ0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Formative using QuestionMark

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 03/04/2019


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