PUB HLTH 7106 - Epidemiological Research Methods

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2020

This course focuses on conceptual and practical issues in the design, interpretation and appraisal of epidemiological research. There is a particular emphasis on improving causal inference through design and analysis. The course content builds on the introductory courses in both epidemiology and biostatistics. Practical and tutorial sessions will provide hands-on experience with the concepts and techniques discussed in lectures.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PUB HLTH 7106
    Course Epidemiological Research Methods
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact 1 x 2 hour Lectures, 1 x 1 hour Tutorial
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Prerequisites PUB HLTH 7075, PUB HLTH 7075OL or PUB HLTH 7074, PUB HLTH 7074OL
    Assumed Knowledge Basic epidemiology and biostatistics
    Restrictions Available to Grad Cert, Grad Dip, MPH and MHEP
    Course Description This course focuses on conceptual and practical issues in the design, interpretation and appraisal of epidemiological research. There is a particular emphasis on improving causal inference through design and analysis. The course content builds on the introductory courses in both epidemiology and biostatistics. Practical and tutorial sessions will provide hands-on experience with the concepts and techniques discussed in lectures.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor John Lynch

    Course Coordinator: Professor John Lynch
    Phone: +61 8313 6541
    Location: Level 9, AHMS

    Student & Program Support Services Hub
    Phone: +61 8313 0273

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    Timetable details are located on MyUni.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Understand, describe and apply the potential outcomes model of causation.
    2 Understand and use different epidemiological effect measures
    3 Illustrate a causal model using Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAG).
    4 Use DAGs to describe confounding, selection and measurement error as sources of bias, and draw a DAG describing their own research question.
    5 Describe and apply appropriate methods to control confounding.
    6 Interpret results of a multivariable epidemiological analysis.
    7 Appraise various study designs for causal inference
    8 Understand multiple imputation for missing data
    9 Understand the difference between systematic and random error, and the correct interpretation of P values and
    their use in null hypothesis significance testing
    10 Understand evidence hierarchies and processes of evidence triangulation
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    1, 6, 7, 10
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Each week there will be assigned journal articles to provide background to and complement the lectures and practical/tutorial sessions. You will be expected to have read this material before class. Required readings are available via a reading list on MyUni.
    Recommended Resources
    These texts are NOT required, but we think they would be valuable additions to your professional library.

    Szklo M, Nieto FJ. Epidemiology: Beyond the Basics. Jones and Bartlett, Burlington, 2014 (3rd edition).

    Rothman K.  Epidemiology.  An Introduction. Oxford 2002. A short introduction to epidemiology that is consistent with his larger classic textbook Modern Epidemiology 3rd edition.

    Saracci R. Epidemiology. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford Uni Press, Oxford, 2010. 
    Online Learning
    All presentations will be available on-line through MyUni after the lecture.

    MyUni is the primary entry point to online learning at the University of Adelaide. Through MyUni you will have access to course materials, discussion forums, announcements, and the submission of assignments. You can connect to MyUni on or off campus via the internet. Access my uni at:
    For enquiries about online education services, what’s available and access to MyUni, contact the Online Education Helpdesk at 8313 3000 or by email at
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Lectures - Practicals - Tutorials - Small Group Workshops


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    To successfully complete the course students will be required to spend time out of contact hours on reading, class preparation, assignments and study. That time commitment will vary from student to student but in general a full-time student with 24 units per year would normally spend 48 hours per week on their studies during teaching periods.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Potential outcomes
    Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs)
    Systematic error: Confounding, Selection, Measurement Error
    Random error
    Triangulating evidence
    Specific Course Requirements
    Small Group Discovery Experience
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    DAG Summative 25% 1-5
    Analysis report Summative 25% 1-7
    Participation Summative 10% 1-10
    Take-home exam Summative 40% 6-10

    Assessment Related Requirements
    Assessment Detail
    Details will be available on MyUni.

    No information currently available.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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