PUB HLTH 2100 - Investigating Health and Disease in Populations II

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2016

This course introduces four research designs used in epidemiology to assess the health of populations, to identify possible causes of disease, and to investigate the efficacy of clinical interventions. Concurrently, the biostatistical concepts that underpin analyses of results from these studies are introduced culminating in application of the chi-square test and the Student's t-test. The computer package Stata will be used to undertake basic manipulation of data and analyses. Threats to reliable interpretation of results from each type of study are considered. By the end of the course students will be equipped to read published epidemiological research, to understand the content of the published abstracts, and to think critically about the strengths and limitations of different research designs.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PUB HLTH 2100
    Course Investigating Health and Disease in Populations II
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites PUB HLTH 1001, PUB HLTH 1002, PUB HLTH 2005
    Assessment Quizzes, assignments and exams
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Vivienne Moore

    Course Coordinator: Professor Vivienne Moore
    Phone: 8313 4605
    Location: Level 8 Hughes Building

    Learning and Teaching Team
    Phone: +61 8313 2128

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Describe four study designs frequently used in epidemiology;
    2 Explain the rationale for random sampling, describe different types of random sampling, and identify commonly used sampling frames;
    3 Explain how bias and confounding arise and anticipate sources in novel scenarios;
    4 Apply knowledge of study designs to critique aspects of published studies;
    5 Explain the principles and process of hypothesis testing and the role of probability distributions;
    6 Analyse data and interpret results from the four study designs using either the chi-square test or Student's t-test, as appropriate;
    7 Calculate other summary measures appropriate to the study designs and interpret confidence intervals;
    8 Undertake data manipulation and apply basic statistical techniques in the statistical package Stata;
    9 Interpret studies summarised in published abstracts, including the statistical results presented;
    10 Appraise the suitability of each epidemiological study design to address questions that typically arise in public health, present persuasive arguments for the need for biostatistics in analysing and interpreting data, and elicit the strengths and limitations of quantitative research in public health.
    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)
    4, 9
    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
    3, 9, 10
    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
    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
    The textbook for the course is: Katz D, Wild D, Elmore E, Lucan S. Jekel's Epidemiology, biostatistics, preventive medicine, and public health. 4th edn. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2014.

    Additional readings, as required, will be available electronically.
    Recommended Resources
    For a review of public health and epidemiological concepts that are part of assumed knowledge see Katz et al. (2014) Ch 24 - Ch 1 §I, §II - Ch 2 §I, §II - Ch 3 §I.

    For examples of the maths concepts that you need to be prepared to engage with see Katz et al. (2014) pages 112 and 125.
    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 our messages to your official University of Adelaide student e-mail address and assume that you read your e-mail.

    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.

    For enquiries about online education services, access and other problems, contact the Online Education Helpdesk. Phone: 8313 3000 E-mail:
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    In this course there are a number of teaching and learning modes.

    Lectures are intended to introduce concepts and illustrate their use. Tutorials and Computing Practicals provide an interactive forum to apply concepts from lectures and clarify understanding. In the series of computer practicals a statistical package (Stata) will be used to analyse data. A Quiz facilitates understanding of fundamental concepts and allow for identification of areas requiring further study prior to undertaking other assessments. Assignments provide an opportunity for independent application and exploration of key concepts, for wider reading and for synthesis of concepts and literature. The exam provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate what they have learnt, drawing together concepts and showing that they understand the inter-related nature of epidemiology and biostatistics.

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

    Teaching in Investigating Health and Disease in Populations II begins with the assumption that students are active participants in the learning process, rather than passive recipients of information. We assume that you are willing and able to prepare fully for classes, to participate in discussions and to carry your share of the workload.

    As a general rule, in any university course you will need to allow a minimum of three independent study hours for every hour undertaken in formal class work contact. This means that you will have to set aside at least a further twelve hours per week for reading around topics, preparation for class activities, and work on assignments.

    You are urged to bear this in mind when planning your university timetable, particularly if you are also engaged in paid employment. In our experience, students may not be able to demonstrate their full capacity if they are working full-time and studying full-time.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The course will cover the following aspects of epidemiology and biostatistics, in an integrated format.
    • uses of survey data in public health practice
    • key elements of survey design
    • the rationale for random sampling, different forms of sampling, and available sampling frames
    • interpreting results of surveys, attending to possible sources of bias or confounding
    • other observational study designs: the cohort study and the case-control study
    • interpreting results of cohort and case-control studies, attending to possible sources of bias or confounding
    • an experimental study design: randomized controlled trials (RCTs)
    • interpreting results of randomized controlled trials, attending to possible sources of bias or confounding
    • feasibility, strengths and weaknesses of the different study designs
    • descriptive statistics and summary measures
    • probability and probability distributions
    • principles of hypothesis testing
    • categorical data and the chi-square test
    • continuous data and Student’s t-test
    • calculation of relative risks and odds ratios and interpretation of confidence intervals
    • basic analysis and interpretation of results of a survey, cohort study, case-control study and RCT
    • use of the statistical package Stata to analyse simplified examples of data arising from epidemiological studies 
    Lecture Tutorial/Computing Practical
    Introduction to surveys and the importance of sampling
    Tutorial: Sampling
    Questionnaire design and administration Tutorial: Developing a questionnaire
    Non-response bias
    Descriptive statistics
    Tutorial: Demonstration of non-response bias and descriptive statistics
    Hypothesis testing and categorical data: the chi-square test (part 1) Tutorial: The chi-square test in action
    Hypothesis testing and categorical data: the chi-square test (part 2) Tutorial: DIY hypothesis testing
    Interpretation of associations Computing Practical: Introduction to Stata; the chi-square test in Stata
    Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) Tutorial: Sources of bias in RCTs
    Hypothesis testing and continuous data: Introducing Student's t-test Quiz
    Tutorial: Student's t-test in action
    Prevalence estimates and confidence intervals Computing Practical: Student's t-test in Stata
    Cohort studies;
    Relative risks and confidence intervals
    Computing Practical: Analysing cohort studies in Stata
    Case-control studies;
    Odds ratios and confidence intervals
    Computing Practical: Analysing case-control studies in Stata
    Causation, hierachies of evidence
    Review of hypothesis testing
    Tutorial: Sample exam questions
    Specific Course Requirements
    In this course we will be performing calculations using formulae, considering probability distributions, consulting statistical tables, writing computer code to perform basic statistical analysis and interpreting computer-generated results. Thus, students need a solid background in maths, usually to year 11 secondary level, in combination with a good grasp of the material covered in Essentials of Epidemiology II. Students with strong mathematical skills (e.g. year 12 secondary level) may have appropriate background for this course without Essentials of Epidemiology II but this should be discussed with the course co-ordinators prior to enrolment.
    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
    It is expected that students complete each assessment task independently with the exception of tutorial and practical preparation and participation which may be collaborative.

    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Tutorial and Practical preparation, attendance and participation Summative 5% 1-10
    Quiz Summative 5% 5, 6, 9
    Written Assignment 1 Summative 20% 2-4
    Written Assignment 2 Summative 20% 4-6
    Exam Summative 50% 1-7, 9-10
    Assessment Related Requirements
    1. Students are expected prepare for tutorials by attempting the tutorial questions before the scheduled
    2. Students are expected to actively participate in tutorial and practicals.
    3. Students must submit both written assignments and sit the exam in order to pass the course.
    Assessment Detail
    Tutorial and Practical preparation, attendance and participation will be scored as follows:
    2 marks will be allocated for attending and actively participating in each tutorial/practical.
    If a student is absent, he/she will receive 0 for that tutorial/practical.
    Attendance only, without preparation and participation, may receive 1 mark for that tutorial/practical.
    A tutorial/practical which is not attended but for which the student submits a medical certificate will not be counted for marking.
    A final score will be scaled to represent 5% of a student’s overall mark.

    There will be a Quiz in week 8 covering material from weeks 4-7 (excluding knowledge of Stata). The questions will be multiple choice and short answers.

    The Quiz will be held in class on the date indicated in the Course Timetable. Alternative quiz times will only be arranged where students cannot attend for medical or genuine compassionate grounds and have documentary supporting evidence (such as a medical certificate).

    There will be two written assignments.
    Assignment 1 will focus on survey design and sampling.
    Assignment 2 will emphasise biostatistical understanding, in the context of epidemiology, and will require students to undertake analyses manually and using a computer package (Stata).

    There will be a 2 hour (closed book) Exam at the end of the course comprising a mix of short answer questions, extended sets of questions around specific scenarios, statistical calculations, and interpreting excerpts from published studies and abstracts.
    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.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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