PUB HLTH 3501 - Epidemiology in Action III

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2015

This course focuses on the implementation & interpretation of epidemiological concepts & measures that are routinely used in public health practice. It demonstrates the essential role of epidemiology in monitoring the health of population, detecting health problems among specific populations, evaluating public health programs and interventions & responding pro-actively to public health problems. The strengths & limitations of epidemiology in this context will also be considered. The course will extend students' ability to locate, access & interpret epidemiological information in the form of publically available data and reports regularly produced by organisations such as the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the NHMRC and the World Health Organisation. Skills & knowledge that are highly valued in public health work places will also be introduced, such as reading & understanding systematic literature reviews and the use of public health intelligence for environmental hazard control, public health emergency and disaster management. This learning will occur through considering a series of topics, such as population management of infectious diseases, health inequalities, population screening, reproductive health, and the assessment of health interventions. At the end of this course the students will be able to apply epidemiological reasoning to public health problems, interpret the epidemiological information contained in the scientific literature about public health programs, and have confidence in communicating these interpretation to both lay and professional audiences.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PUB HLTH 3501
    Course Epidemiology in Action III
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Semester 1
    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
    Assessment Written assignments, quizzes and exam
    Course Staff
    Course Coordinator: David Gonzalez
    Phone: 8313 1631
    Location: Level 11, 178 North Terrace

    Learning and Teaching Team
    Phone: +61 8313 2128
    Location: Level 7, 178 North Terrace
    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Locate, access and interpret the epidemiological information contained in reports and the health literature, including systematic reviews
    2 Develop an in depth understanding of health data collection and the principles measures used to describe health patterns
    3 Understand the epidemiological principles underlying public health activities such as infectious disease management, environmental health risk assessment, and/or the assessment of health interventions
    4 Locate specific health related data, and evaluate this information using epidemiological terminology correctly and contextually
    5 Synthesise health information from a variety of sources and report their findings clearly in an audience-appropriate manner
    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)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1-5
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1-5
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 4-5
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 4
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1-5
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 4-5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Recommended Resources
    Online Learning
    University information on computer laboratories and other computing services is available at:
    The Health Sciences computer laboratory, S118, is situated on the first floor of the Medical School South Building. Twenty-four hour access to computers is provided at the Barr Smith Library.
    Epidemiology in Action III makes lecture notes and other teaching aids available electronically to students, through MyUni.

    MyUni is the primary entry point to online learning at Adelaide University. MyUni provides students and staff with access to course materials, discussion forums, announcements, online and many other features to help manage your study or teaching. You can connect to MyUni on or off campus from an internet connected computer using a Web browser. The URL is:
    Login to this resource using your Username and Password. Once logged on to MyUni, you will find the information displayed is customised to present only details relevant to you and the online content for courses that you are studying.

    For enquiries about online education services, what’s available and access, contact the Online Education Helpdesk:
    Phone: (08) 8313 3335
    The Helpdesk is available for extended hours during the week or through voicemail.

    In Epidemiology In Action, you will be expected to use MyUni for a number of purposes:
        -  Accessing announcements about changes in scheduling, course information etc.
        -  Accessing lecture notes both in pdf format and, if recording is possible in the allocated lecture theatre, in audio file format.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    There are a number of teaching and learning modes in this course. The course lectures provide basic factual information and concepts about public health. Lectures are supported by interactive tutorials designed to develop and clarify topics covered in lectures. These are generally problem-solving sessions. The practicals also provide an opportunity for interactive learning. Assignments provide an opportunity to undertake in depth analysis of some key concepts of the course. The quizzes confirm understanding of fundamental concepts or allow for identification of areas requiring further study. Finally, the exam will assess the extent to which students have developed their understanding through the course.

    Lectures – Introduce key concepts in public health using the text book structure and supporting material
    Tutorials – Clarify, discuss and apply public health concepts. Provide an opportunity to try out your ideas, develop your capacity for critical thinking, and clarify uncertainties, in a supportive environment.

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

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements. As a 3 unit course, Epidemiology In Action will require approximately 11 hours of work per week including attendance at lectures (2 hours), attendance at tutorial (1 hour). Nine of the 12 hours per week is private study, which is study outside of your regular classes.

    Eight non-contact hours per week
    should be private study including:
    – Pre-reading (lecture material) - 1 hour
    – Tutorial tasks - 1-2 hours
    – Completion of assignments and revision - 6 hours
    Learning Activities Summary
    Week Topic Lecture
    Week 1 Using and interpreting population data Finding Health Outcome Data
    Week 2 Using and interpreting population data What is the health status in the population
    Week 3 Using and interpreting population data The Port Lincoln ‘Linkin Health Study’
    Week 4 Infectious disease Infectious Diseases in the population

    Week 5 Introduction to screening Screening: a public health practice
    Week 6 Effective screening programs What is an effective screening program?

    Practical 1: Screening for antibodies to HIV
    Week 7 Screening: benefits and harms – making an informed choice Buyer beware: the downside of screening

    Practical 2: Screening for antibodies to HIV part b
    Week 8 Practical: Screening for antibodies to HIV Screening for poor childhood development

    Week 9 Randomised controlled trials Randomised controlled trials
    (a) Principles
    (b) Beyond a single trial
    Week 10 Systematic review of the literature Introduction to systematic reviews
    Week 11 Searching for systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses When to meta-analyses: exploring

    Week 12 Review week Strengths and weaknesses of systematic

    Checklist of items to include when reporting a systematic reviews or meta-analysis
    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 Asessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Assignment 1: Population health data interpretation and reporting Summative 20% 1-2
    Assignment 2: Population screening evaluation Summative 20% 3-5
    One in-class quiz for each module Summative 15% 1-3
    Final exam Summative 45% 1-5
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Please note:
    To be eligible to sit for the final examination in Epidemiology in Action, students must have submitted ALL written assignments, attended ALL quizzes and 75% of tutorials. Any alternative arrangements must be made in advance of relevant quiz/tutorial/due date with documentation as appropriate.

    Tutorial and practical participation
    Attendance at all tutorials/practicals is required and an expectation. Tutorials/practicals will extend and apply the material presented in lectures and in the readings. The examination will test understanding of tutorial and practical topics.
    Assessment Detail
    Assignment 1: Population health data, interpretation and reporting
    (Weighting 20%) Due Date TBA
    A 1500-word report based on the tutorial work undertaken in weeks 1 to 3.

    Select a GRIM Book on any topic of interest to you. Download the data and compile a report for the Health Minister containing the following components:

    1. An introduction (up to 300 words) on the significance of the problem you have selected in Australia
    - Your introduction should refer to the incidence and prevalence of the disease, any population groups that might be more affected, the major health outcomes for affected people (natural history, morbidity and mortality) and any treatments available.

    2. The main body of your report (up to 1000 words) will describe and interpret the mortality data from your chosen GRIM book for the two years 1957 and 2007. At a minimum, your description for both periods (and for all and by sex if appropriate) should include comment on:
    - crude numbers of deaths age standardised mortality rates (including your interpretation of any differences observed between them), mean age at death, the percent of deaths to all causes for your disease, and PYLL;
    - any trends observed in the data when looking at the various tables and graphs relevant to the time periods (e.g. increasing numbers of deaths, decreasing age standardised rates, sex or age differentials, changes in PYLL);
    - your interpretation of what you have described based on your understanding of the disease and any large scale population changes (e.g. changes in population size and age structure, diagnostic and treatment advances) that might be important.

    3. A one paragraph conclusion (up to 300 words) in which you summarise the main findings you have reported and your interpretations. Where possible, link back to what is known about the disease as reported in your introduction.

    4. A complete reference list

    IMPORTANT: you are required to refer to appropriate academic resources other than the GRIM Book to complete this assignment.

    [You may wish to provide a graph to illustrate trends, ether copied and inserted or adapted from public data. Please ensure that any graphs/tables or figures you include are appropriately referenced to their source.]

    Assignment 2: Population screening evaluation
    (Weighting 20%) Due Date TBA
    A 1500-word evaluation report on a potential screening program, and half page summary for a non-academic audience.

    An increasing number of screening tests are being marketed to consumers via television, magazine advertisements or the internet. Select one of the screening tests below:-

    a. Fermiscan for breast cancer screening
    b. Genome Health Analysis (available through “Reach 100”)
    c. Whole body computed tomography (CT) scanning for cancer screening
    d. Tam Pap test for Human Papillomavirus screening

    a. A 1500 word report on why you consider your selected test to be suitable/unsuitable for introduction as a screening program in South Australia, This report should cover existing evidence and a discussion of evidence gaps.
    b. Attach a description (1/2 page max) of the approach you have taken to search for information to support assignment
    c. A reference list
    d. A 1/2-page article for South Australia’s In Daily ( on why this is a good/poor test for widespread introduction

    Note that there may or may not be much peer review literature about the tests to guide your research. You should consider the Wilson and Jungner criteria and/or the criteria of the UK Screening Committee in preparing this assignment.

    End of semester examination
    (Weighting 45%)

    Details will be provided in the final lecture. All aspects of the course are examinable: lectures, tutorials, practicals, assignments, the textbook and other readings from the course. Students will be expected to integrate information and critically analyse public health issues. The objectives of the course should be used as a guide to the content of the examination.

    Weighting: 45% of the total mark

    Note: No student who achieves less than 50% in the examination will be awarded an overall result higher than a passing grade (i.e. no higher than 64%), no matter what his/her results in the other parts of the course.

    Assessment requirements will be discussed in tutorials and lectures. Please use these opportunities to clarify any uncertainties you may have.

    Information sources for assignments
    - Information used in your assignments will be derived from government reports, scholarly articles and books, including set course readings. All work must be referenced appropriately. In addition, data used should be recent.

    Referencing of written work
    It is essential that you learn to reference all written work accurately and consistently. Students often find this difficult, and do not understand why it is important. We will spend some time in early lectures and tutorials explaining why good referencing is important and helping you to do it.
    For undergraduate courses, the Discipline of Public Health uses the Vancouver (numbered) System of referencing. This system uses:
    - Bracketed references using consecutive numbers in the body of the text, AND
    - A reference list in numerical order at the end of the assignment.

    Examples of in-text citation
    The Vancouver System assigns a number to each reference as it is cited. A number must be used even if the author(s) is named in the sentence/text.
    Example: Smith (10) has argued that…

    The original number assigned to the reference is reused each time the reference is cited in text, regardless of its previous position in the text.
    When multiple references are cited at a given place in the text, use a hyphen to join the first and last numbers that are inclusive. Use commas (without spaces) to separate non-inclusive numbers in a multiple citation.
    Example: Recent studies (12,15) have found a high incidence of malaria
    Example: Recent studies (20-22) have found a high incidence of malaria

    As a rule, reference numbers should be placed outside full stops and commas, inside colons and semicolons.
    Example: Smith and Bloggs maintain “that malaria is transmitted from person to person and not mosquito to person”. (1 page 20)

    Examples of how to list references
    [all references should be numbered and listed in order of appearance in the text]

    Fleming ML, Parker E. Introduction to public health. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone; 2009.

    Kelly B, Cretikos M, Rogers K, King L. The commercial food landscape: outdoor food averting around primary schools in Australia. Aust N Z J Public Health 2008;32:522-528.

    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Young Australians: Their health and wellbeing. Canberra: AIHW; 2007. AIHW PHE 87.

    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Young Australians: Their health and wellbeing. 2007
    [accessed 21 January 2009]; Available from:

    James C., Help out of reach for 7000. The Advertiser 2002 Dec 23;1

    Further details and examples of Vancouver referencing can be viewed at (accessed 06/07/2012)

    · Assignments must be submitted on line in the ‘Assignments’ folder of MyUni.
    · Students must download the marking criteria, with submission taken as acknowledgment of having read and understood them.
    · Assignments must be submitted by 4pm on the due date.
    · Assignments should be converted to portable document format (pdf) following the instructions provided on MyUni.
    · You should retain a digital copy of the assignment submitted
    · No assignment will be accepted by mail, email or fax without prior written agreement from the course coordinator
    · Marked assignments will be returned to students within 4 weeks of completion of the task so that students can take advantage of the feedback (the first assignment will be returned by the end of week 6)
    · Written feedback will be provided on the marked assignments.
    · It is not possible to resubmit, redeem or substitute work once assignments have been submitted

    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.
    Late requests for extension will neither be accepted nor acknowledged.
    Only the course coordinator may grant extensions.
    Documentary supporting evidence such as a medical certificate or a police report (in the case of lost computers, car & household theft etc) will be required when requesting an extension.

    Marks will be deducted when assignments for which no extension has been granted are handed in late. The procedure is as follows:
    · All assignments, including those handed in late, will be assessed on their merits. In the case of late assignments, marks will then be deducted from the mark awarded, at the rate of 5 percentage points of the total possible per day. This policy will apply to assignments submitted after the period of automatic extension described above.
    · e.g. If an assignment which is 2 days late is awarded 65% on its merits, the mark will then be reduced by 10 (5 marks per day for 2 days) to 55%. If that same assignment is 4 days late its mark will be reduced by 20 (5 marks per day for 4 days) to 45% etc.
    · The Discipline 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.

    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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