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Module titleEpidemiology
Module codeHPDM121
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Janice Atkins (Convenor)

Dr Abby Russell (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module will form the foundation of the science of public health. You will be exposed to epidemiology through the study of distributions and determinants of disease in populations and learn to apply the tools epidemiologists use to investigate health and disease in populations how they support public health decision-making for population health.
No pre-requisites or specialist knowledge are required to undertake this module, which is well suited to interdisciplinary learning. Delivery is via six focused sessions of expert-led small group learning, interspersed by personal study undertaken at your own pace, interactive “consolidation” activities and supported by our internet resources.

This module permits students to attend some or all of the face-to-face lectures and workshops either in person or online. Learning will also be consolidated by self-directed learning resources and ELE activities.


Module aims - intentions of the module

In this module you will understand:

  • Causality in public health and challenges to understanding causality
  • Sources of evidence in epidemiology
  • Key forms of bias in epidemiological research
  • The contribution of different study designs and data sources to understanding epidemiologic relationship
  • How health, wellbeing and risk and protective factors are measured
  • How tests and their performance influence public health decisions
  • The role of genetics and genomics in shaping epidemiology

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Apply epidemiological methods to breadth of settings and situations in public health
  • 2. Identify key sources of data for epidemiological and public health investigation purposes

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. Understand how causality can be inferred or induced from evidence and the implications of this for population health
  • 4. Diagnose and interpret forms of bias affecting the reliability of quantitative research results
  • 5. Interpret key concepts of hypothesis testing, effect modification and confounding

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 6. Identify limitations of research results, data sources or existing practices and programmes
  • 7. Critically appraise suitability of epidemiological research for reliability and application

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:

  • Introduction to epidemiology: history and the epidemiological transition, hypothesis testing, definitions of disease occurrence
  • Sources of epidemiological data and study designs
  • Bias in epidemiology
  • Causality: confounding, interaction and effect modification; graphical approaches to understanding causality and methods for managing confounding
  • Diagnostic and test performance¬†
  • An introduction to genetic epidemiology

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 and teaching activities15All student taught sessions
Guided Independent Study115Session preparation and follow up work utilising resources provided on ELE
Guided Independent Study20Reading and assignment preparation


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class discussions and small group work activitiesEach taught session3-4Facilitator and peer feedback in class

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
Take-home, open-note exam 7060 minutes1-7Written
Recorded small group oral presentation with written narrative304 minutes per person plus 400 words written narrative and review of peer contributions1-7Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Take home, open-note exam (70%)Take-home, open-note exam (60 minutes)1-7Next available assessment point
Recorded small group oral presentation with written narrative (30%)Pre-recorded oral presentation with written narrative 1-7Typically within six weeks of the result

Re-assessment notes

Please refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral:


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Gordis, L. Epidemiology, 6th ed. Elsevier.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Public health, population health, epidemiology, genetic epidemiology, causality, bias, statistical approaches, disease risk, study design, appraisal of causal evidence.

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date