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Statistics as Applied to Health

Module titleStatistics as Applied to Health
Module codeHPDM054
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Fiona Warren (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module provides an introduction to statistical concepts and methods relevant to health research. You will develop your understanding of these concepts/methods enabling you to interpret the statistical aspects of research studies and published papers.

Module aims - intentions of the module

You will learn to recognise the most commonly encountered types of data in health research and learn which statistical methods are appropriate to summarise such data and make statistical inferences. You will be able to interpret the findings of published research and critically appraise the choice of statistical methods in those papers.  You will understand the concepts relevant to the pooling of study findings across research papers and understand the factors that need to be taken into consideration when calculating the number of participants required in a research study.


Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate a critical awareness of how descriptive statistics and inferential statistics are applied in health research, and understand how to interpret the results of statistical analyses in the context of health research.
  • 2. Understand the differences between meta-analysis methods, and understand what information is required to inform a sample size calculation.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Critically appraise the difference between descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.
  • 4. Critically examine methods to summarise different types of data using numbers and graphs (descriptive statistics), and demonstrate a critical awareness of the two main modes of statistical inference: estimation (confidence intervals) and hypothesis testing (p-values).

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Critically interpret findings of statistical analyses reported in research papers.
  • 6. Critically appraise the choice of statistical methods and their application in research.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, an example of an overall structure is as follows:

Types of variable/levels of measurement; summarising data; probability; Normal distribution; standard scores, confidence intervals; hypothesis testing and p-values; t-test; analysis of variance; non-parametric tests; measures of effect for binary outcomes (risk ratio, odds ratio, relative risk); chi-squared test and Fisher’s exact test; correlation; linear regression; logistic regression; survival analysis; meta-analysis; sample size calculation.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning & teaching activities36Lectures (face to face or online e.g. using MS Teams), short online video presentations on ELE, seminars (face to face or online using MS Teams), practical exercises (face to face or via ELE), group discussion using ELE forum.
Guided independent study70Web-based learning, resource gathering, and in-depth reading during the period of module delivery.
Guided independent study44Preparation for and completion of assessment.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practical exercisesThroughout1-6Verbal
Written exam1 hour1,3,4Exam mark, specimen answers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Coursework assessment1002500 words1-6Assessment mark and written feedback


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Coursework assessment (100%)Coursework 1-6Typically within six weeks of the result

Re-assessment notes

Please refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral:



Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

B.R. Kirkwood and J.A. Sterne (2003), Essential Medical Statistics, Blackwell.


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

 A full list of recommended resources will be available of the University of Exeter’s electronic learning environment (ELE,


Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Statistics, health statistics

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date