module specification

SH7041 - Social Epidemiology (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Social Epidemiology
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 200
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
164 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
In-Course Test 50%   In class test of 1.5 hours
Seen Examination 50%   Seen examination of 1.5 hours
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Monday Evening

Module summary

This module introduces the principles of epidemiology. It focuses on the factors that affect the health and illness of populations with special reference to the impact of social interactions and human activities on populations' health. Emphasis is placed on the understanding of concepts, principles, and methods of epidemiological investigation together with applications of appropriate statistical approaches to describe the health of populations. The module also discusses current theoretical trends in social epidemiology and understanding of psychosocial, politico-economic and eco-social approaches in analysing determinants of health, wellbeing and disease.

Module aims

The aim of the module is to develop an understanding of the multi-factorial nature of health and health care, as well as social determinants of health and wellbeing.  This aim will be achieved through grasping the concepts and methods of epidemiology in general and social epidemiology in particular.


Introduction to epidemiology will focus on epidemiological trends, concepts, methods and tools for data collection. Main concepts of epidemiology will be reviewed (incidence, prevalence, surveillance, mortality, morbidity, life expectancy, disability, attribution risk, DALY, QUALY, YPLL). Examination of the case for social epidemiology will be addressed and examination of multi-factorial analysis of evidence will be discussed. Familiarisation with methods used in epidemiological studies and social epidemiology will also be discussed. The module will address issues related to health services; use of epidemiologic data for modelling and prognosis for evidence based policy making; project cycle and service delivery. Ethical and professional aspects in epidemiology, including the human right to health, also will be discussed. The understanding of social determinants of health and disease and current debates in Social epidemiology will be addressed. Methods used in social epidemiology (network, community based participatory, relevance; experimental-controlled community trials, propensity score matching, natural experiments and instrumental variable analysis, causal diagrams) will be studied.

Learning and teaching

Teaching is structured around weekly lectures and group-work exercises which provide an opportunity to discuss in more detail some of the theoretical and technical issues covered in lectures.
The approach to teaching is based on helping students to apply theory to practice and begin to integrate learning with real world scenarios. This approach to teaching aims to develop students’ ability to think critically and to produce solutions in accordance with the learning outcomes.
The above will be complemented by the student’s independent study. Students will be required to read, on a weekly basis, recommended chapters in the textbooks, or to access the web-sites and videos containing relevant educational.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Understand the concepts and methods of epidemiology.
2. Interpret and analyse epidemiological evidence.
3. Evaluate links between social environment and health.
4. Apply the evidence to policy and practice.

Assessment strategy

There will be two separate assessments for this module. The first assessment is a classroom test worth 50% of the overall module mark and will take place in week 8.  The test will last one and half hours (e.g. the paper will consist of multiple choice and/or short answer questions to test students’ knowledge of epidemiological definitions and concepts).

The second exam (50% of the overall module mark) will take place in Week 14.  It will be a seen case study analysis lasting an hour and half.  The case study will be provided 24 hours before the exam via WebLearn. This will permit students to produce a more comprehensive analysis.


Beaglehole, R.  Bonita, R. Kjellström, T.  (2000)   Basic Epidemiology. WHO
Bland, M. (1993) An Introduction to medical Statistics. Oxford Medical Publications, Oxford
Brown, G. and Harris, T. (eds)(1987) Life Events and Illness. Unwin Hyman, London.
Bunton, R. (Ed) (1997) Public Health and the Limits to Epidemiology. Critical Public Health, 7, 1 and 2.
Cohen, S. and Syme, L.. (eds)(1984) Social Support and Health. Academic Press, New York.
Fentons, S. and Karlsen, S. ‘Explaining Mental Distress: narratives of cause. Chapter 2 in W. O’Connor and J. Nazroo (eds.) (2002) Ethnic Differences in the Context and Experience of Psychiatric Illness: A Qualitative Study. The Stationery Office, London.
Harris, M. and Taylor G. (2008) Medical Statistics Made Easy. Scion publishing Limited, Oxford
Gordis, L. (2004) Epidemiology (3rd ed.). Elserivre Saunders
Koepsell, T. and Wiess, N. (2003). Epidemiologic Methods:  Studying the Occurrence of Illness. Oxford University Press.
Kawachi, I. and Wamala, S. (2007) Globalization and Health. Open University Press, New York.
Lilienfield, A. Lilienfield, D. and Stolley, P.  (1994) Foundations of Epidemiology (3rd ed.) Oxford University Press.
Marmot, M. (2004) Status Syndrome. Bloomsbury, London.
Middleton, H.  and Shaw, I. (1999) Inequalities in Mental Health: models and explanations in Politics and Policy 27
Oakes, M. and Kaufman, J. (2006). Methods in Social Epidemiology
Sprinthall, R. (2006) Basic Statistical Analysis (8th Edition). Pearson Education
Unwin, N. Carr, S. and Leeson, J. (1997) An Introductory Study Guide to Public Health and Epidemiology. Open University Press, Buckingham
Wilkinson, R. (2005) The Impact of inequality: How To Make Sick Societies Healthier. Routledge
Zola, I. (1973) Pathways to the Doctor: from person to patient. Soc Sci Med, 7, 677-89.

Useful Websites:;jsessionid=G5DGkHDC9G4TJXPyClQ9VrFsT6jFLFLxJdvn2P1H4Syr2KktgJTB!-1036009586!181195628!8091!-1