PUB HLTH 7075 - Introduction to Epidemiology

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2023

The aim of this course is to give students a grounding in the basic concepts of epidemiology. Students will gain knowledge about: measuring and interpreting patterns of disease occurrence; routine sources of data, their strengths and limitations; study designs used in epidemiology and when to apply them; epidemiological models of causation; and will examine issues of study design and interpretation of results.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PUB HLTH 7075
    Course Introduction to Epidemiology
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 2 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Incompatible PUB HLTH 7075OL, PUB HLTH 7075UAC, PUB HLTH 4275, BIOSTAT 6000
    Course Description The aim of this course is to give students a grounding in the basic concepts of epidemiology. Students will gain knowledge about: measuring and interpreting patterns of disease occurrence; routine sources of data, their strengths and limitations; study designs used in epidemiology and when to apply them; epidemiological models of causation; and will examine issues of study design and interpretation of results.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Angela Gialamas

    Course Coordinator: Dr Angela Gialamas
    Phone: +61 8 831 30962
    Location: Level 4, Rundle Mall Plaza, Adelaide

    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.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Demonstrate an understanding of routine sources of data used in descriptive epidemiology, and appreciate their strengths and limitations accordingly;
    2 Outline epidemiological measures of disease occurrence, calculate basic measures and describe patterns of disease occurrence;

    3 Correctly calculate and apply absolute and relative measures of risk;
    4 Differentiate epidemiological study designs, recognise the most appropriate circumstances in which to use each design, and describe the measures of disease occurrence that can be generated using each design;
    5 Recognise potential threats to correctly interpreting results from epidemiological studies, and identify those most relevant to each study design;
    6 Distinguish the difference between association and causation, and appreciate relevant issues in inferring causation from observational designs;
    7 Summarise the principles of screening and the conditions under which a screening program would be most appropriate and cost-effective.
    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)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    2, 5, 6, 7

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    3, 5, 7

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    1, 4, 7

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.


    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.

    4, 5, 7

    Attribute 6: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency

    Graduates have an understanding of, and respect for, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, culture and knowledge.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.

    2, 3

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The textbook for the course is:
    Webb P, Bain C, Page A. Essential Epidemiology: An Introduction for Students and Health Professionals. 4th edition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

    The textbook is available as an e-textbook from the University library. There are a small number of hard copies of the textbook that are available for borrowing.  

    Other relevant reading material may be provided during the course in the form of book chapters, journal articles (both recently published and seminal), and links to websites.
    Recommended Resources

    Other Resources: Epidemiology Textbooks
    There are many introductory epidemiology texts. Reading a text other than the set text can be helpful if a topic seems unclear or difficult – a different explanation and different examples can be illuminating. Some recommended texts for learning about epidemiology are described below.

    1. Rothman K. Epidemiology: An Introduction. 2nd edition.  Oxford, UK. Oxford University Press, 2012.
    This is a small introductory-level book that provides good explanations of epidemiological concepts.

    2. Szklo M, Nieto FJ. Epidemiology: Beyond the Basics. 3rd edition.  MA, USA. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2014.
    This text digs a little deeper into epidemiological concepts.

    Other Resources: Statistical Textbook
    If you are need of support for statistical concepts, a good entry-level textbook is:
    3. Kirkwood BR, Sterne JAC. Medical Statistics. 2nd edition. MA, USA. Blackwell Publishing, 2010.
    Note that this textbook is different to the text recommended for the biostatistics courses.

    Other Resources:  Epidemiology Journals
    Many journals also specialise in epidemiological research and you have access to the University's journal collection.  Some good epidemiological journals include:
    • The International Journal of Epidemiology
    • Epidemiology
    • American Journal of Epidemiology
    • Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
    • Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
    You could consider subscribing to a journal's Table of Contents, so that you can follow when new articles published in your area of interest.  This is a free service offered by most international journals.

    Online Learning
    We assume that you have access to student e-mail and that your address is the University of Adelaide student’s e-mail address that was assigned to you on enrolment.

    We will send messages to your official University of Adelaide student e-mail address and assume that you read your e-mail.  The announcements page of the MyUni site for this course will also display relevant notices from time to time.

    MyUni is the primary entry point to online learning at the University of Adelaide.  MyUni will be used to provide students with access to course materials, announcements, and other features to assist your study.  You can connect to MyUni on or off campus via the internet 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: Provide basic factual information and introduce and illustrate concepts.

    Tutorials: Provide an opportunity to develop understanding of lecture material and clarify concepts.

    Practicals: A forum for application of lecture material. They provide an interactive forum to apply concepts from lectures and clarify understanding.

    Assignments: Opportunity for independent application and exploration of key concepts.

    Quizzes: Opportunity to practice learning at the end of an instructional unit.

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

    In general, we recommend that students spend 3 hours of independent study for every contact hour.  This includes reading the set text, wider reading, preparing answers to tutorial questions, and making progress with assignments.  The work on assignments will be greater as the due date approaches.
    Learning Activities Summary
    • Types of Health States
    • Measuring Health States
    • Study Designs:  Intervention Studies
    • Study Designs:  Cohort and Cross-sectional Studies
    • Study Designs:  Case-control and Ecological Studies
    • Effect Measures
    • Random Error and P-values
    • Systematic Errors:  Confounding, Selection and Information bias
    • Screening
    Specific Course Requirements
  • 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
    Participation & Quizzes Formative and Summative 15% 1-7
    Assignment 1 Summative 25% 1, 2, 3
    Assignment 2 Summative 30% 4-7
    Assignment 3 Summative 30% 1-7
    Assessment Related Requirements
    • Students are expected to prepare for tutorials by attempting the tutorial questions before the scheduled session.
    • Students are expected to actively participate in tutorials and practicals.
    Assessment Detail
    Assignment 1 (25%)
    This online assessment will assess students' application of knowledge and understanding of key epidemiological measures and the ability to correctly calculate effect estimates. Students willl use a dataset to understand the occurence of a disease and factors associated with the disease.

    Assignment 2 (30%)
    This online assessment will assess students' knowledge and understanding of core epidemiological concepts. Students will answer a series of multiple choice and short answer questions about study designs, random and systematic error.

    Assignment 3 (30%)
    This online assessment will assess students' application of knowledge and understanding of concepts throughout the semester. Students will answer a series of multiple choice and short answer questions designed to assess learning and understanding across the content of all lectures, readings, practicals and tutorials.

    Participation and Quizzes (15%)
    Attendance and participation at all practicals/tutorials is required. Online quizzes are designed to support material presented in lectures and practicals/tutorials.

    All extensions for assignments must be requested, at the latest, by the last working day before the due date of submission.   Extensions will generally be granted only on medical or genuine compassionate grounds.  Supporting documentation must be  provided at the time a student requests an extension.  Without documentation, extensions will not be granted.  Late requests for extension will neither be accepted nor acknowledged.

    Only the Course Co-ordinator(s) may grant extensions.

    Supporting documentation will be required when requesting an extension. Examples of documents that are acceptable include: a  medical certificate that specifies dates of incapacity, a police report (in the case of lost computers, car & household theft etc.), a  letter from a Student Counsellor, Education and Welfare Officer (EWO) or Disability Liaison Officer that provides an assessment of  compassionate circumstances, or a letter from an independent external counsellor or appropriate professional able to verify the  student’s situation.  The length of any extension granted will take into account the period and severity of any incapacity or impact  on the student.  Extensions of more than 10 days will not be granted except in exceptional circumstances.

    Late submission
    Marks will be deducted when assignments for which no extension has been granted are handed in late.

    All assignments, including those handed in late, will be assessed on their merits.  In the case of late assignments where no  extension has been granted, 5 percentage points of the total marks possible per day will be deducted.  If an assignment that is 2  days late is awarded 65% on its merits, the mark will then be reduced by 10% (5% per day for 2 days) to 55%.  If that same  assignment is 4 days late, the mark will be reduced by 20% (5% per day for 4 days) to 45%, and so on.

    The School of Public Health reserves the right to refuse to accept an assignment that is more than 7 days late.

    Assignments submitted after the due date may not be graded in time to be returned on the listed return dates.

    Students submitting examinable written work who request (and receive) an extension that takes them beyond the examination period are advised that there is no guarantee that their grades will be processed in time to meet usual University deadlines.
    If a student is dissatisfied with an assessment grade they should follow the Student Grievance Resolution Process  <>.  Students who are not satisfied with a particular assessment result should raise their concerns with Course Co-ordinator(s) in the first instance.  This must be done within 10 business days of the date of notification of the result.  Resubmission of any assignment is subject to the agreement of the Course Co-ordinator(s) and  will only be permitted for the most compelling of reasons.
    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.

    This course now provides modern content on epidemiological thinking, a new textbook and revised practicals. The course was also updated to be offered fully online or face-to-face (i.e. flexible mode).

    Feedback indicated that students thought the best aspects of the refreshed course were the teaching methods, lecture sessions, up-to-date materials and links to journal articles for more difficult concepts. Students thought that the assessments were fair and the different formats for the assessments suited a range of learning styles. A few students did not like the time that the course was offered (4-6 pm). In order to address this, offering the course in a fully flexible mode should go some way to making the course available to all students at times when they are free to study.  Further, being mindful that we have to meet the needs of a very wide range of students, we have also introduced a zoom 'drop-in' session and opened Discussion Boards so students have many ways of communicating about the course.
  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.