SH7005 - Introduction to Epidemiology (2023/24)
|Module approved to run in 2023/24
|Introduction to Epidemiology
|Credit rating for module
|School of Social Sciences and Professions
|Total study hours
|Running in 2023/24(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
This module offers an introduction to the principles, concepts, and methods of epidemiology. It introduces epidemiology as a core discipline for public health practice, policy and research, and emphasises the key role of epidemiology in understanding and responding to the diverse factors and conditions that shape the health and well-being of individuals and populations. The module defines epidemiology and outlines its scope and diverse applications e.g. in relation to public health practice, health education, health promotion, health service provision and clinical practice. You will be introduced to a number of key topics, including various measures of frequency and association used in epidemiology, and different epidemiologic study designs. Module aims are to:
• Provide a broad understanding of key epidemiological principles and methods.
• Develop competency in applying basic terminology and definitions of epidemiology
• Identify key sources of data for epidemiologic purposes
• Describe a public health problem in terms of magnitude, person, time and place
• Calculate basic epidemiology measures
• Draw appropriate inferences from epidemiologic data
Evaluate strengths and limitations of published epidemiologic reports
Prior learning requirements
This module will introduce epidemiology as a core discipline for public health (epidemiology will by defined, and its scope and important achievements will be outlined) with applications in diverse other fields, including health policy, health service research and clinical practice (LO1).
The module will introduce students to the calculation and interpretation of various measures of disease frequency (e.g. prevalence, incidence, mortality rates, and standardisation), and will critically discuss key sources of data for epidemiologic purposes (e.g. health statistics, Census data, health surveys) (LO1-LO3). The module will also introduce different measures of association (e.g. odds ratios, relative risks), their calculation and interpretation (LO1-LO3). Moreover, the module will discuss different epidemiologic study designs (e.g. cross-sectional studies, case-control studies and cohort studies), and critically review their strengths and limitations (LO4).
The concept of study validity will be examined, and various potential threats to validity (e.g. chance, confounding and bias) and their prevention will be examined in detail (LO3-LO4). Students will be introduced to the concept of cause, and the challenges of establishing a causal relationship in epidemiology. Challenges and opportunities encountered in epidemiological research will be examined in detail (LO5). Throughout this module, students will have an opportunity to apply key concepts, evaluate methodological strengths and limitations, draw inferences from key data, and apply evidence to practice-related contexts.
Throughout this module, students will have an opportunity to apply key concepts, evaluate methodological strengths and limitations, draw inferences from key data, and apply evidence to practice-related contexts.
The module covers the following areas: -
• An introduction to epidemiology as a core discipline for public health (epidemiology will by defined, and its scope and important achievements will be outlined) with applications in diverse other fields, including health policy, health service research and clinical practice LO1
• An introduction to the calculation and interpretation of various measures of disease frequency for example prevalence, incidence, and mortality rates, standardisation, with a critical discussion on the key sources of data for epidemiologic purposes such as health statistics, Census data, and health surveys. LO1, LO2, LO3
• An introduction to different measures of association for example odds ratios and relative risks, their calculation and interpretation LO1, LO2, LO3
• Discussion of different epidemiologic study designs for example cross-sectional studies, case-control studies, and cohort studies, and critically review their strengths and limitations LO4
• The concept of study validity will be examined, and various potential threats to validity for example chance, confounding and bias, and their prevention LO3, LO4
• An introduction to the concept of cause, and the challenges of establishing a causal relationship in epidemiology. LO1
• An examination of the challenges and opportunities encountered in epidemiological research LO4
• Specialist lectures on selected topics, including on nutritional epidemiologic research and the application of epidemiological data to disease prevention policies and practice such as screening for disease LO5
Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity
The module teaching is based on weekly lectures and seminar classes, where specific group-work exercises have been developed to provide students with an opportunity to examine in more detail some of the main conceptual and methodological issues covered in lectures.
The approach to teaching is based on facilitating the application of concepts, methods and principles to practice-related contexts, and students’ integration of learning in relation to real world scenarios. This approach to teaching aims to develop students’ ability to think critically about data and evidence, and to draw appropriate inferences in accordance with the stated learning outcomes.
The above teaching methods will be complemented by students’ independent study on the module. Students will be required to read, on a weekly basis, recommended chapters in the core textbook, or to access other relevant educational material. Particular emphasis is placed on proactively exploring published journal articles, and guidance is provided for doing so.
On completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Understand key concepts and methods of epidemiology
2. Calculate and interpret basic epidemiology measures
3. Draw appropriate inferences from epidemiologic data
4. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of data from epidemiologic studies
5. Apply evidence from epidemiologic investigations to public health policy and practice
There are two scheduled summative assessments on this module. The first assessment is a test worth 50% of the overall module mark. The test, which lasts for 1.5 hours, consist of multiple choice questions to test students’ knowledge of epidemiological concepts and methods, including basic measures of association.
The second assessment is an exam which counts for 50% of the overall module mark. It will be an analysis of a seen published research paper, lasting for 2 hours. The published epidemiological study will be provided no later than 1 week prior to the exam via WebLearn. This will enable students to produce a more comprehensive and critical analysis of the study on the day of the exam. Students are required to answer questions to demonstrate their understanding of the study design and content.